Today marks the first day of Sheffield Doc/Fest’s 25th edition. Screen Editors Gethin Morgan and Izzy Cridland will be covering the entire festival from today to Tuesday 12 June, bringing you Doc/Fest diaries every evening.
With Izzy stuck in the IC revising for her last exam tomorrow, I (Gethin) set off to Doc/Fest solo this morning. Armed with a press pass and a thirst for knowledge, I was ready to throw myself into the world of documentaries.
After some morning admin and a little too much time spent looking for the perfect shot to go on Forge Press’ Instagram, I headed to the Showroom Cinema, my home for the day.
First off was a 12pm screening of Our New President; a film made entirely of TV footage, Youtube videos and other found footage from social media. The doc looks at Russian television, the propaganda delivered by the state and its effect on Trump’s election.
Quirky videos, clever editing and amusing music choices make it a very enjoyable watch but, more importantly, keeps you focused on a revealing topic. It poses some serious questions about the Russian government, social media and modern propaganda. It screens again on Tuesday 12 June at 11.45am in The Light Cinema.
Next up was Panoptic, a visually stunning piece depicting the current state of Beirut. Images are interestingly weaved alongside beautiful narration about a girl and her militarised father. However, the film is much too slow-burning. Images tend to paint the same picture, of a run down city, over and over again. Very little happens on screen and in all honesty the 1hr 20m runtime feels twice as long. It does screen again at The Light on Monday at 9am but, to be frank, I’m not sure if it’s worth the early start.
Following a delicious pulled pork burger at the Showroom (tomorrow I shall be sampling the Sir David Atten-burger), I headed into my final film of the day, The Congo Tribunal.
Director Milo Rau organises a symbolic tribunal to get to the bottom of a series of massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s a fascinating concept to watch a fake trial take place. Everyone’s voice is heard and it is great to see people from all walks of life given the opportunity to eloquently describe the mistreatment they have received. It’s not as hard-hitting as Rau will have wanted, however, it is still very much worth seeing. It screens at 11am on Monday in The Light.
And there we have it. Day 1 of Doc/Fest is over for me. I’ve been to Moscow, Washington, Beirut and the Congo, all without leaving the Showroom. Now I’m off to Club Tropicana for the evening. I’ll be back tomorrow for even more doc-ing.