The 21st edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest kicked off last night with the European premiere of Florian Habicht’s documentary Pulp: A Film About Life, Death And Supermarkets, about Britpop band Pulp.
It was one of three opening films being screened in Sheffield last night, together with Rehad Desai’s South African documentary Miners Shot Down and Thomas Balmes’ Bhutan set documentary Happiness.
With over 3,000 tickets sold across the events, it was the biggest opening night in Doc/Fest’s history.
The Pulp screening took place at Sheffield’s City Hall and was broadcast to 120 cinemas around the UK, including the BFI Southbank.
Speaking to the packed City Hall audience, festival director Heather Croall said: “About 18 months ago I met the film director and film producer down the road in the pub and we agreed right there and then that this film was going to open the festival in a year and a half and that we would do it in the City Hall because it is such a huge part of Pulp’s history. It actually happened and here we are.”
Croall also took the opportunity to pay tribute to her “favourite delegate” at the festival, 96-year-old film buff Dr Clifford Shaw, who has been to every single edition of Doc/Fest and is sitting on the festival jury this year.
“Every day he is in the cinemas from 9am until 11.30, sometimes he has to leave a bit before the film ends to get his last bus, even though I offer him a taxi, but he won’t take it,” Croall told the audience.
The premiere was followed by a Q&A with the director and band members Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Steve Mackey and Mark Webber.
Jarvis Cocker revealed that he “prefers cornershops” to supermarkets, despite the title of the film and the fact part of his Common People video is set in one. “I have panic attacks in supermarkets, there is too much choice,” joked Sheffield-born Cocker.
When asked what the future held for Pulp, Cocker went on to say “Is it an exclamation mark, is it a question mark, is it a full stop? I would say it’s a comma.”
Cocker went on to DJ at the festival’s opening night party at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery.
Also screening was Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down about the South African strike in which 34 strikers were gunned down by the police followed by a Q&A with the director.
It is one of a series of films playing at the festival to mark the 30th anniversary of the “Battle of Orgreave”, a strike organised by South Yorkshire National Union of Mineworkers in South Yorkshire which became one of the most violent confrontations in picketing history.
The third opening night event was a screening of Bhutan set documentary Happiness, which was shown in a cave outside Sheffield, playing to a 500 strong audience.
Sheffield Doc/Fest runs until June 12 with highlights including the world premiere of Martin Scorsese’s The 50 Year Argument and Kim Longinotto’s film Love Is All, due to be screened at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.