Idris Elba’s moving struggle to produce an album of South African music that pays tribute to Nelson Mandela – the man he played on screen - while simultaneously coping with the sudden death of his own father, will be one of the highlights of this year's Sheffield Doc Fest.
The programme for the country’s biggest documentary festival has been announced today, boasting this film along other highlights, including a mix of international filmmaking veterans alongside home-grown talent and celebrating the work of Monty Python, Kurt Cobain, Martin Luther King Jr and the world's biggest freakshows - it's all in there.
The Festival kicks off with a double-header opening night. It will be the UK premiere of Joshua Oppenheimer’s ‘The Look of Silence’, exploring what happens when the grieving family of genocide in Indonesia confronts the men responsible and, in something quite different, ‘The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Funfairs, Circuses and Carnivals’ brings together extraordinary footage from fairgrounds, freak shows and variety performances from around the world. Music for this unforgettable film has been scored by Sigur Rós members Orri Páll Dýrason and Georg Hólm, along with Icelandic music veteran Örn Hilmarsson.
Closing night will see Michael Palin joining his Monty Python directors Roger Graef and James Rogan for conversation following ‘Monty Python: The Meaning of Live’ - a film exploring the challenges and delights of preparing for their first live show in 34 years.
In between these two events, Sheffield will play host to more than 300 screening events at venues around the city, and speakers at the Festival include Nicky Campbell, Davina McCall and historian Lucy Worsley, while world-famous composer Michael Nyman will be performing live with his band for viewers of his First World commemoration ‘War Work: 8 Songs With Film’.
The international strand of the Festival is also bursting with goodies, including Brett Morgan’s ode to the Nirvana frontman in ‘Cobain: Montage of Heck’, and revered filmmaker Adam Curtis’s ‘Bitter Lake’ in its first cinema showing. ‘Hustlers Convention’ looks at the world of hip hop, while the BAFTA-nominated ‘Martin Luther King and the March on Washington’ explores intimately a day that changed history.
In keeping with the Festival’s long-running love of all things musical, one of the strands is ‘Behind the Beats’ – including a documentary about The Damned, and even one devoted to ‘808’ - one of the most iconic pieces of music equipment, the Roland TR 808 drum machine. And Idris Elba's love for his father, Nelson Mandela and the music of South Africa is revealed in Daniel Vernon’s 'Mandela, My Dad and Me'.
One of the Festival’s themes this year is ‘Ideas and Science’, supported by the Wellcome Trust, which looks at creativity and innovation at the heart of documentary, digital and interactive.
31 world premieres, filmmaker masterclasses, virtual reality exhibitions and free outdoor screenings at the city’s Botanical Gardens fill out the programme of the Festival, which will also be handing out Awards for Grand Jury, Sheffield Environmental Award, Doc/Fest Youth Jury; The Short Doc Award, The London Film Academy Student Doc Award and the Interactive Award.
Full details of this year's programme for Sheffield Doc Fest can be found here, including ticket info. In the meantime...