Klitschko: More Than A Fight to open DocFest

Sheffield event gets off to punchy start and confirms Roger Ross Williams as guest of honour

by Amber Wilkinson

Klitschko: More Than A Fight
Klitschko: More Than A Fight Photo: Courtesy of Sheffield DocFest
Klitschko: More Than A Fight has been announced as the opening film of this year's Sheffield DocFest, which runs from June 12 to 17.

The Sky Original documentary, directed by Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald, focuses on former heavyweight boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir, who together dominated the sport for more than a decade. Now the longest serving Mayor of Kyiv, this feature-length documentary charts Vitali’s journey from the ring to political office, leading the defence of the capital since the Russian invasion.

Roger Ross Williams will be guest of honour
Roger Ross Williams will be guest of honour Photo: Courtesy of Sheffield DocFest
The festival has also announced its Guest of Honour will be Love To Love You, Donna Summer director Roger Ross Williams, who will present a specially curated programme of five social impact documentaries and moderate a panel discussion with the filmmakers.

Roger Ross Williams says: “I chose these films because they highlight the complex social dilemmas of our times. Each is an example of an effective collaboration between filmmakers from different backgrounds who each bring their unique life experiences to the table. In a time when dog-whistle politics aim to separate us and erect social walls between us, these filmmaking teams have used their distinct perspectives to chart a course toward community and healing.”

Speaking about the opening film, the festival says: "While Wladimir uses his celebrity status and popularity to help raise funds and military support for the defence of Ukraine, the heart of the story is the remarkable transformation of Vitali from sporting hero to political figurehead. From the face of the opposition in the 2014 Maidan Revolution to the mayor running on an anti-corruption card, Vitali tests his leadership capabilities as he’s put in charge of the safety of millions of Kyiv citizens, with the eyes of the world watching."

Kevin Macdonald, says: “Like many people around the world I was shocked and outraged by the aggression, murder and wanton destruction of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I wanted to help in some small way - and making a documentary is the only way I have at my disposal. I’m grateful to Sky for enabling us to make this film, sometimes in the face of great obstacles, and to the Klitschko brothers for allowing us access to the most personal parts of their lives and showing us what bravery and resilience really mean."

Annabel Grundy, Sheffield DocFest managing director, says: “ Kevin Macdonald joined us in Sheffield in 2023 as Mentor for our Filmmaker Challenge, inspiring participants to take a creative and compassionate approach to their works. With ‘Klitschko: More than a Fight’ we see his commitment to artistry and authenticity in equal measure; we’re honoured to welcome him back to present this incredible portrait of hope, charisma and determination to make a difference.”

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