Twenty years of the city’s finest documentaries

Ed Cartledge whose short film, Closure, about Una McBride's fight to save her local pub, is at Sheffield Doc/Fest
Ed Cartledge whose short film, Closure, about Una McBride's fight to save her local pub, is at Sheffield Doc/Fest

Sheffield Doc/Fest 20, which runs over five days until Sunday, is shaping up to be a bumper year for high-profile speakers and outstanding films.

It was given a glittering launch at the Crucible Theatre last night in an event celebrating the city’s centenary of stainless steel and the festival’s 20th anniversary when Jarvis Cocker and leading Sheffield musicians - including the City of Sheffield Brass Band, Richard Hawley, Pulp band members, techno group The Forgemasters, a string quartet and a youth choir – performing live to the world premiere of The Big Melt, directed by Cocker’s long-time collaborator Martin Wallace.

Yesterday also saw Melvyn Bragg talking about Arts on Television and the premiere of Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer followed by a Skype interview with Katia Samutsevich – the only member of the Russian feminist art collective to be released.

The name check continues today (Thursday, June 13) with Sheffield’s favourite son, Michael Palin, discussing his documentary journeys around the globe with Miranda Sawyer, the BAFTA Masterclass with John Battsek, award-winning producer of One Day in September and Searching for Sugarman, BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, in conversation with Sue Perkins about changes she has brought to the channel’s programming.

Legendary newsreader and journalist Sir Trevor McDonald will chair the ITV panel The Art of Access - From Palace’s to Prisons and comedian and DJ Adam Bugg brings his show, The Best of BUG: The Evolution of Music Video, to Sheffield for the first time. On Friday distinguished editor and sound designer Walter Murch, known for his Academy Award winning work with Francis Ford Coppola, will give a masterclass drawing on his 45-year Hollywood career, and former BBC controller and Head of Television Alan Yentob In Conversation with Storyville editor Nick Fraser, recipient of this year’s Doc/Fest Inspiration Award.

Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt is the subject of The Channel 4 interview and the “Maverick Pianist” classical musician James Rhodes will give a live performance following the World Premiere of Notes From the Inside which sees Rhodes take a Steinway grand piano inside one of Britain’s largest psychiatric hospitals.

On Saturday at the world premiere of band biopic Basically, Johnny Moped director Fred Burns will introduce his dad, band member Raymond Burns, better known as Captain Sensible.

Famous American novelist Jonathan Franzen will give Q&As at screenings on Saturday and Sunday of Roger Kass’ film Emptying the Skies based on his New Yorker essay of the same name about the rampant migratory songbird poaching in southern Europe.

Making a much shorter journey are a number of Sheffield filmmakers including Dan Gordon with 9.73 and Ed Cartledge’s Closure (see elsewhere on this page).

Another is Stephen Maclean who opens viewers up to a secret world in his film, Urbex. Weaving through the buildings that Sheffield forgot, two explorers from the underground community of ‘urbexing’ share their experiences and passion for these neglected buildings.

The decomposing spaces in Urbex resemble apocalyptic twilight zones, as dislocation dominates these structures that once represented livelihoods. The film screens in completion for the Student Jury prize.

Also made in Sheffield is Shaun Bloodworth and Anthony Bennett’s Stave, an arresting short film about the city’s last jobbing grinder.

The visceral imagery has been combined with a smoldering soundtrack from Sheffield band In The Nursery.