The 16th Sheffield International Documentary Festival opened last night (November 4) with the world premiere of Mat Whitecross’ film Moving To Mars.
The film follows a Burmese refugee family, who after spending 20 years in a Thai refugee camp, are offered a new life in Sheffield by a UN relocation scheme.
It is one of 16 world premieres screening at this year’s festival, which runs until November 8, and will screen 110 documentaries, down from 150 last year.
Highlights of the festival will include a screening of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, accompanied by a Q&A via Skype with the director, and masterclasses with The September Issue director RJ Cutler, Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong and producer Luke Morris on the making of Warp Film’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.
The festival has introduced a new special jury prize this year to sit alongside its existing awards including for best environmental documentary and the Innovation award. This year’s jury comprises US writer/film-maker AJ Schnack, Claire Aguilar, vice president of programming ITVS, UK film-makers Nick Broomfield and Kim Longinotto and US director RJ Cutler.
There will also be two new strands at this year’s event – Comedy Docs and Cross Platform Docs. Comedy Docs will feature the European premieres of Ben Steinbauer’s Winnebago Man and Best Worst Movie, directed by Michael Paul Stephenson, while Cross Platform Docs which will showcase films using multi-platform distribution. There will also be a special focus on Russian films.
Doc/Fest is expected to attract around 1700 industry delegates this year to its range of workshops and events. The programme opened yesterday with a pitch workshop and Crossover Summit, with a keynote address by technology writer and journalist Steven Johnson, which attracted 450 delegates.
Festival director Heather Croall told ScreenDaily that when she joined the festival in 2006 it attracted around 600 industry attendees but has been steadily increasing this figure ever since. “It feels this year we’re really on the map,” she added.