Diego Maradona to kick-off Doc/Fest

UK premiere for Kapadia's footballer profile

by Sunil Chauhan

Asif Kapadia's Diego Maradona will open Doc/Fest
Asif Kapadia's Diego Maradona will open Doc/Fest Photo: Courtesy of Sheffield Doc/Fest
The 26th edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest will open on June 6 with Diego Maradona, a film on the legendary Argentinian footballer. Directed by Asif Kapadia (Amy and Senna), the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Kapadia who will also give the BAFTA Masterclass the following day.

World premieres include Jamie Taylor’s The Campaigners, a look into the changing room of Woodseats Working Men's Football Club; Jaak Kilmi and Gints Grube’s tale of familial espionage My Father The Spy; Myles Painter’s Sunrise With Sea Monsters, a journey into new technological knowledge preservation which follows an errant desktop hard drive.

Director of film programming Luke W Moody said: “On the big screen we take and show risk that inspires, share difference that connects, exhibit possibilities that propel. These true stories leak sweetness, brood on injustice and thump with rhythm of the present. Alongside celebrating masters of non-fiction cinema we place particular emphasis on new talent and images of youth: spirited energies, hearts and voices calling for change, for inclusion, for a better world that is theirs to inherit.”

Other key films at this year’s festival include Ai Weiwei’s The Rest, a film about refugees left in limbo in Europe; Werner Herzog’s latest, Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, a portrait of the writer; Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama, an exploration of war as recounted by a young Syrian mother; Jeanie Finlay and Freddy McConnell’s self-explanatory Seahorse: The Dad who Gave Birth; Nick Broomfield’s doomed romance Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love; Harvey Weinstein expose Untouchable from Ursula Macfarlane; and A Dog Called Money, Seamus Murphy’s chronicle of the recording of PJ Harvey’s album The Hope Six Demolition Project. Directors of each of these films will also be present at the festival as part of new strand Spotlight.

Additional titles of note include Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveler, shot by the director, his wife and two daughters on mobile phones after Fazili received a Taliban death sentence; Avi Belkin’s Mike Wallace Is Here, the story of CBS 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace; Midnight Family by Luke Lorentzen, about a family who operate a private ambulance service in Mexico City.

The country of focus this year will be Japan, with UK premieres of artist-filmmaker Makino Takashi’s Memento Stella, Kazuhiro Soda’s latest The Big House, a snapshot of America that looks at everything but the game taking place in and outside a Michigan stadium; Norie, a road-trip taken by Yuki Kawamura and his father to speak to those who knew his late mother; A Tiny Place Is Hard to Touch from Shelly Silver about the relationship between an American researcher and a Japanese translator.

Billed under the tagline Ways of Seeing, inspired by the book and TV series of the same name by John Berger, the festival will screen more than 180 features with more than 54 per cent of titles helmed by female filmmakers and half of the projects in Alternate Realities – the festival’ section dedicated to alternative ways of presenting non-fiction - made by women.

Projects in the latter include Algorithmic Perfumery where personal data will be used to train an AI system to create an original scent for every visitor; Spectre, a cautionary tale of computational propaganda, technology and democracy curated by an algorithm; The Smartphone Orchestra presents: The Social Sorting Experiment, an interactive performance following digital data trails left by social media.

Sheffield Doc/Fest will run from 6-11 June.

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