Festival highlights wealth of silver-screen talent

Red Dog
Red Dog

Ian Soutar looks at the finest offerings from young movie-makers as ground-breaking film gathering returns to Sheffield

AFTER a year’s hiatus the Showcomotion Young People’s Film Festival is returning at the Showroom cinema next month with a programme of film previews, hidden gems from around the world, short films, school screenings and workshops.

It all kicks off on May 20 with the Opening Night Gala, a special preview screening of Red Dog, including a fancy dress competition. the film is an adaptation of a novel by Louis de Bernières based on the remarkable true story of a lost dog that unites a community in his for search his master in the Australian outback.

A second major preview takes place the following day with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, a sequel to the first film based on the popular books by Jeff Kinney. A new addition to this year’s festival is the InterActive Youth Jury supported by the Sheffield Town Trust. A group of 15-18 year olds have been chosen to select a winner from the strand of films in competition for the InterActive Youth Jury Best Film award.

Among them is Against All Odds, a documentary following a group of courageous young women as they face the prospect of teenage motherhood and Eleanor’s Secret, a fantasy adventure about a little boy who discovers the characters in his books come to life at night.

Then there is Neukölln Unlimited, a documentary about a group of Lebanese siblings who are successful dancers and musicians living in Berlin facing the threat of deportation. The Crocodiles Strike Back, a sequel to hit German film The Crocodiles, catches up with the crime-busting Crocodile gang for another adventure. Louder Than A Bomb is an inspirational documentary about a group of talented kids growing up, speaking out and finding their voice using poetry.

The final Youth Jury film is Arrietty, a new animation from the renowned Japanese Studio Ghibli, a retelling of the classic story, The Borrowers , which has been selected as the special Closing Gala on Sunday, May 29. The evening will include the award presentation for the InterActive Youth Jury Best Film and the Audience Award, which festival-goers can vote for throughout Showcomotion.

Showcomotion also presents a selection of recent big screen hits, including Tomorrow, When the War Began, Winnie the Pooh and Rio. There’s also a strand of classic family favourites like Watership Down and The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island. The festival celebrates the work of director Carroll Ballard with a retrospective of his most universally appealing and touching family films, Fly Away Home, Black Stallion, Never Cry Wolf and Duma, all stories involving human interaction with animals and how life changing it can be.

The two weekends of public screenings for children and families bookend a week of school screenings for classes to attend from May 23-27.

The school screenings include accompanying workshops or activity packs for teachers, encouraging pupils to get more out of their visit to the cinema and learn about filmmaking and the film industry. There are a variety of films on offer which cover Key Stages 1-5.

Showcomotion Festival Director Joan Parsons said: “We’re really excited to announce that Showcomotion is back and able to offer young people in Sheffield a chance to see a huge variety of films, make some new discoveries and experience the buzz of a film festival firsthand.”

lProminent American filmmaker Morgan Spurlock will launch this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest which will open on Wednesday, June 8, with the European premiere of Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Famous for his indictment of junk food and the influence of McDonald’s with Super Size Me, Spurlock now takes a scathingly funny look at the world of product placement, marketing and advertising, and his efforts to finance the new film.

“We’re thrilled to open with the European premiere of Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and have Morgan Spurlock attend”, says Doc/Fest director Heather Croall, “the film won high praise and many fans at its world premiere at Sundance”.

In addition to the opening night, Morgan Spurlock will give a masterclass offering an in-depth discussion of his work. Spurlock, who came to Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2004 to present the award-winning Super-Size Me, has established a reputation for an irreverent style and unique voice in documentary filmmaking. Once again in Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Spurlock immerses himself entirely in his subject in order to expose the inner workings of the advertising and marketing industries.

The festival programme will feature around 120 docs, including a number that will receive their European premiere at Doc/Fest. The event, being held in the summer for the first time, is centred on the Showroom Cinema but also takes place in venues across the city including Channing Hall, the Upper Chapel, the Crucible, Lyceum and Library theatres, the HUBS, the Odeon, the Site Gallery, the Town Hall, plus a special outdoor screening. Tickets go on sale on May 9.