A Northern Soul to open Doc/Fest

2015 winner McAllister goes back to his roots

by Amber Wilkinson

A Northern Soul
A Northern Soul
Sheffield Doc/Fest will open with the world premiere of Sean McAllister's A Northern Soul on June 7.

McAllister, who previously won the Grand Jury Prize at the festival with A Syrian Love Story in 2015, returns to his home city of Hull with his latest film, profiling Steve Arnott, describe as "a struggling warehouse worker by day and hip-hop performer by night, who harbours his own creative dream".

McAllister said: “Back home in Hull, where I began, I have been filming Steve and wondering whether he can, against the odds, unlock the opportunities to build a better life? Is social mobility possible in cities like Hull? What role does culture have to play in this? How long can he hold onto his dreams for?

"I am delighted that Sheffield Doc/Fest is opening its 25th edition with a film from Yorkshire, and I cannot think of a more fitting occasion for A Northern Soul to receive its world premiere. As a northern filmmaker – and as someone who has attended every Doc/Fest since its inception and screened all my films here – it particularly resonates with me that the festival supports and celebrates regional voices and brave filmmaking – whether that’s in Syria or Hull – and it’s great to see the festival making these bold choices.

"Steve represents a forgotten generation whose dreams haven’t been met. He is also a deeply community-driven optimist, who has been trying to find a way to bring creativity and culture to the disadvantaged kids of the city, whose opportunities to build a better life are restricted by the world around them. I left school at 16 and went straight into dead end factory work and eventually made a film in a pea factory that got me into film school and since then I've enjoyed filming around the world but it felt like an important time to be filming back in the North ".

Director of film programming at Doc/Fest Luke W Moody added: “The world premiere of A Northern Soul is the perfect opening scene to Doc/Fest’s 25th festival edition. Sean’s internationally recognised cinema of rapport questions the present from a local point of view, but touches us all. A Northern Soul is a potent story about belonging, the value of culture for every person and offers a sense of hope and solidarity in turbulent times."

The full line-up for Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018, which runs from June 7 to 12, will be announced on May 3.

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