The 25th edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest is currently taking place (7 to 12 June). Screen Editors Gethin Morgan and Izzy Cridland are covering the entire festival, bringing you Doc/Fest diaries every evening.
Gethin: It’s the penultimate day of Doc/Fest (sad face) and, annoyingly, I couldn’t get involved with the festival this morning because I was too busy writing, transcribing and eventually interviewing. Turns out as a journalist you have to leave some time in the day for actually doing journalism. Anyway, if anyone fancies helping me transcribe a few interviews that would be lovely. If not, keep an eye out in the next few days because we’ve got some great stuff coming up!
Izzy: I got up nice and early today for a morning screening of On Her Shoulders. This was an intimate portrait of a young woman who was captured by ISIS and made victim to horrific treatment. She managed to escape and has openingly spoken to the media in order to bring her violent abusers to justice. However, the focus of this documentary is not about the awful things that happened to Nadia but about how she copes with incessant and shallow media, causing her to relive her terror as she is constantly asked to recount her trauma. This documentary is so sensitively done, allowing the audience an insight into what an amazing activist Nadia is (even if she doesn’t see herself as one). Powerful and poignant, this documentary presents how, despite her bravery, Nadia longs to live a normal life.
Gethin: Still transcribing…
Izzy: I also watched a french documentary, Ashes and Embers. It was a cinematic experience which was beautifully shot, even if the content didn’t quite deliver. Filmed in black and white this film looks at the poverty surrounding the Renault factory, where many French people are forced to work in difficult conditions. It presents the community’s hope as well as their struggles in an intimate and provocative way. The use of subtitles was interesting, as a rap performed by a subject of the documentary was left unsubtitled.In the Q&A we were told that this was because the rap was “bad” – I feel like knowing how “bad” it was would have added to our understanding of the characters and their aspirations and dreams. Despite not being my favourite documentary, it was still an insightful and interesting watch.
Gethin: Finally! Yes! Free at last to actually watch some documentaries. First up was Infinite Football to get me hyped for the World Cup. It’s a strange look at a man who’s convinced he has found a way to revolutionise the rules of football. There’s really nothing in it for anyone not familiar with the intricacies of the beautiful game, but it does provide a humorous and interesting watch. Though it becomes slightly tragic too, seeing a man totally convinced he is right, being told no by everybody else. Not exactly the World Cup hype I was looking for.
Izzy: I also went to see Shirkers; a funny and insightful look into teenage ambition and naivety. Tonight I am hoping to see Hale County, This Morning, This Evening. Tickets sold out super quick, so Gethin and I are hoping to get in on standby. It’s nominated for the Grand Jury, so fingers crossed we get in, because this is not one to miss.
Gethin: Five days in and finally the two screen editors are attending a screening together (provided we get in). Hale County This Morning, This Evening follows the lives of African Americans in Hale County, Alabama. It supposedly has “luminous poetic cinematography” according to the Doc/Fest website. I look forward to reporting back whether or not that is indeed the case.
And that will mark the end of day five. Now that the end is near it’s really hitting me how bloody good this festival is. There’s a pretty incredible line-up of films on tomorrow so hopefully I’ll make the most of it and go out on a bang. See you then.