The 2012 edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest enjoyed two opening night events last night - the world premiere of Penny Woolcock’s From The Sea To The Land Beyond, followed by the European premiere of Sundance winner Searching For Sugar Man.
The 19th edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest kicked off with two opening night events last night - the world premiere of From The Sea To The Land Beyond - the first film to be produced by the festival itself - and the European premiere of Sundance hit Searching For Sugar Man directed by Malik Bendjelloul.
Directed by Penny Woolcock and commissioned by a new online collaboration between the BBC and the Arts Council - The Space - From The Land To The Sea is a celebration of the British coastline using over a 100 years worth of BFI archive footage.
The screening at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre was accompanied by a live soundtrack played by UK band British Sea Power.
Speaking to Screen after the premiere, festival director Heather Croall said the film had come about because of her “obsession with British Sea Power”.
Croall said she hoped that it could become a regular event for Doc/Fest to produce archive based films. “We have already been asked if we would do something for the centenery of stainless steel which is next year. We already have a great partnership with the BFI anyway, but I think we are a ntural partner for them if they want to start doing these archive features.”
Woolcock, who has another very different film screening at the festival, One Mile Away, about British gang culture, said she was “delighted” to be involved in a film which “didn’t involve people trying to kill me”.
“To do something without lots of TV executives telling you what to do was wonderful,” added Woolcock.
Festival goers then headed over to Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema for the official opening night film, Searching For Sugar Man - produced by Simon Chinn for Red Box and executive produced by John Battsek for Passion Pictures - which received a rapturous response from the packed out auditorium.
There was a surprise appearance by the subject of the documentary, the singer Rodriguez who became asensation in South Africa, despite never gaining recognition in his home country, the US.
Rodriguez went on to play a set at the festival’s opening night party.
It was an appropriate opening night film for the festival, as it had first been pitched at Doc/Fest’s MeetMarket in 2008.
Speaking before the film, the festival’s new chair Alex Graham - who took over from Steve Hewlett this year - paid tribute to the festival’s backers, including Sheffield City Council, the BFI and Creative England. “We’ve been keeping Sheffield Doc/Fest going amidst the worst economic crisis in the last century and the support we’ve had from our key stake holders has been particularly important in getting us through that.”
Doc/Fest runs June 13-17.