The 19th edition of the festival attracted a record number of delegates.
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s 5 Broken Cameras has won the Audience Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest. The documentary focuses around Palestinian farm labourer Emad who has five video cameras, each telling a different part of his village’s resistance to Israeli oppression.
Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching For Sugar Man came in second place, one point behind. The feel good documentary about US singer Rodriguez opened the festival. Both titles were funded via Sheffield Doc/Fest’s industry strand, the MeetMarket.
The festival, which wrapped on Sunday, attracted a record 2657 delegates from 60 countries, up on last year’s 2300. The number of international delegates was also up on last year, to 1000.
The festival’s MeetMarket also attracted a record number of buyers (240 as opposed to 210 last year) with a stronger international presence than before and a number of new countries being represented for the first time, including Columbia, Poland and Romania. Organiser Charlie Phillips, said there were also more representatives from Arte than ever before.
For the first time this year, the MeetMarket also attracted some of the big UK theatrical distributors including Artificial Eye, StudioCanal as well as exhibitors including Claire Binns programming and acquisitions director at Picturehouse Cinemas. “We’ve been inviting them every year, and we’ve been waiting for this to happen. More documentaries are being released theatrically, and I think the big distributors have seen the success of films like Dreams Of A Life and Project Nim and want to be involved,” said Phillips, adding that “there are more really big ambitious theatrical projects in MeetMarket than ever before.”
In terms of alternative sources of funding, there seemed to be a shift from crowd funding to crowd distribution. “Crowd funding has evolved into crowd distribution and new ways of showing films. It will be interesting to see how that space develops,” said Phillips.
The festival also trialled its first event solely aimed at selling interactive projects this year.
“There has been such a great vibe this year,” said festival director Heather Croall. “I’m so proud that in the middle of a recession and these tough times we are still able to create this brilliant positive energy at Sheffield. We work hard to make sure the festival is about celebrating documentary.”
Looking ahead to next year’s 20th edition, Croall told Screen she would “like to gather from all the thousands of delegates over the years the stories of them making a break at Sheffield, and collate them into something online or a booklet.”