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Comedian, rapper and all-round sensation Michael Dapaah (aka Big Shaq) joins Karen Gabay (BBC radio host and TV producer) to discuss how he gets his message to the masses: whether communicating with his 1.4million Instagram followers, the 325 million viewers of his viral music video Man’s Not Hot, or the hundreds of thousands of fans who tune into …
 
In 2018, the UK’s Ministry of Loneliness was installed to combat the issue of isolation. Generation Z has been singled out as ‘the loneliest generation’, with social media’s effects often receiving the blame. Chaired by mental health expert and academic Dr Chris Blackmore from the University of Sheffield, a panel of filmmakers from the 2019 program…
 
UK film policy is almost entirely geared towards fiction, while the unique challenges facing the documentary sector are overlooked. It’s high-time the UK had a bespoke policy framework to support its documentary makers. What kinds of interventions are needed? How should they be developed? This session invites panelists and audience members alike to…
 
So you’ve got brilliant, hard-won access, now what? With fiercer competition for audiences, it’s what you do with that access that’s all important. We explore the ingredients needed for a hit series – from the inspiration behind the idea, to innovative approaches to storytelling. What are the secrets of turning access into a returnable brand, deliv…
 
This session from Doc/Fest 2019 explores the resurgence of archive and testimony in history filmmaking, with a panel of producers and contributors from some of the BBC’s most successful projects. The panellists discuss the opportunities afforded by the interplay between archive and testimony; why this mode of storytelling is back in full force and …
 
How do documentary filmmakers tackle the most taboo of subjects and tell stories that can’t be shared openly, while respecting the ethical, legal and personal sensitivities of the people involved? This session from Doc/Fest 2019 explores radical and hybrid formats in bringing such subjects to screen, and the innovative techniques used by directors …
 
Highlighting their priorities, leading commissioners talk about forthcoming commissioning opportunities as they take part in Doc/Fest's version of Question Time. Commenting on recent successes, they discuss the changing landscape, the renewed focus on diversity and how producers can keep innovating for their channels. With a spotlight on relationsh…
 
Pursuing a career in Film or TV can be a daunting experience, and in the early stages of doing so it’s easy to feel that those around us find success with impossible ease. A panel of Film and TV professionals explore the highs and lows of their own journeys into the industry, offering insights from their experiences and discuss overcoming the obsta…
 
With everything solid melting into air, and the documentary landscape never more varied and complex, this panel asks leading commissioners, funders & distributors: how do independent filmmakers get creative feature length documentary work made and seen today? In a panel from Doc/Fest 2019 filmmaker Rajesh Thind (Pindu Productions) talks to some of …
 
We explore the craft of directing through films that focus on a central character. Taking us deep into their films and filmic method, 2 directors explore approaches to character, the relationship at work, and what happens if it goes wrong? Chaired by Krishan Arora (SBS) and featuring Jeanie Finlay (Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth) and Tim Travers …
 
In 2018, socio-economic inequality in the television and film industry became National news, when the Panic! report revealed that the industry was becoming less welcoming to talent from working class backgrounds. Much lip-service was paid to improving access in the months that followed, but what has really changed in a year? Our panel of filmmakers…
 
Since forming the seminal hip-hop group London Posse in 1987, Rodney P has been widely regarded as the Godfather of British hip-hop, and has collaborated with a diverse range of artists including Omar, Roni Size, Nitin Sawhney and Björk. More recently Rodney has authored a number of documentaries exploring both British and global music culture, inc…
 
In twenty years of directing documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC, Paddy Wivell has made a name for himself for the seemingly effortless and compassionate way he connects with his subjects, from African tribes to Orthodox Jews and psychiatric inpatients in Bafta award-winning Bedlam. Described by The Times as “a filmmaker of such exceptional tal…
 
Chidera Eggerue preaches her messages of self-love and body positivity to thousands on her blog, The Slumflower, and with hugely successful campaigns like #saggyboobsmatter. Her 2018 debut book, What a Time to be Alone, quickly became a top 10 best-seller and her second book, Scribble Yourself Feminist – a collaboration with illustrator Manjit Thap…
 
The Academy Award and multi BAFTA-winning filmmaker, Asif Kapadia, elevated the art of archive documentaries with Amy and Senna, films which were both critically acclaimed and box office hits. His latest film Diego Maradona, explores the life of one of the world’s most iconic sportsmen. In conversation with Mariayah Kaderbhai, Head of Programmes at…
 
Having cut his teeth on the investigative documentary strand World in Action, known for its forceful and unorthodox journalistic approach, Paul Greengrass has become one of the world’s most popular filmmakers. His films, which often explore real-world anxieties and confront both social and political issues, include 22 July, three of the Jason Bourn…
 
Filmmaker and ‘cosmic archaeologist' Jenn Nkiru is one of the UK’s most exciting directors, with a unique and distinctive visual style. Her films are powerful explorations of black identity including commissions for Nowness, Frieze, Gucci and Channel 4. She has also collaborated on projects with Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kamasi Washington, and was a found…
 
We welcomed BAFTA-winning actor Vicky McClure, star of This is England (produced by Sheffield based Warp Films), as well as Line of Duty and Broadchurch, to Sheffield Doc/Fest for the first time in 2018, to discuss her new BBC series, Vicky McClure: My Dementia Choir, produced by Curve, a deeply personal journey to discover the extent of music's po…
 
Brian Reed (Host and co-creator of S-Town) and Richard Miron (Director/Producer of For the Birds) explore the real life mysteries and strange tales that inspired their work. Chaired by Lyndon Saunders (University of Salford). This talk was part of the 2018 Doc/Fest Exchange: Head Space programme of special talks, films and activity, with a focus on…
 
From the Syrian conflict to Black Lives Matter; now more than ever there is an urgency for stories told by less represented and authentic voices emerging from affected communities. Getting access to a community not your own, to spend a few days filming on the ground, is widely considered ‘extractive’ storytelling. Can extended integration with prot…
 
Allegations against Harvey Weinstein and numerous others exposed a deeply troubling side to the film and TV industry. Following the birth of the ground-breaking anti-sexual assault and women's empowerment movements #MeToo and #TimesUp, we debate how the industry is responding. Chaired by Natasha Moore (Directors UK) with Tim Hunter (BAFTA), Jane Me…
 
One of our favourite talks from the 2018 festival: Charlotte Moore, Director of Content at the BBC, interviews public intellectual, feminist, author and television presenter Mary Beard. In her trademark accessible style, Britain's best-known classicist discusses her broadcasting career as well as her most recent book, Women & Power: A Manifesto, ha…
 
In 2017 the Grenfell Tower tragedy shook the nation: claims of gross negligence, government cuts, and lack of political action angered communities, and the demand for justice and call for change began. For many the tragedy highlighted the deep divide in society, and a local story missed by the media elite disconnected from the ‘real world’. A panel…
 
Poverty in the UK is increasing for the first time in two decades. We are seeing more people struggling to make ends meet. Does television set out accurately the complexities of living in poverty, or too crudely as either a deserving economic victim or undeserving ‘scrounger’? How can we tell more accurate stories of poverty to skeptical audiences,…
 
Britain's hottest young entrepreneur Jamal Edwards, founded YouTube-based SBTV in 2006 with a self-recorded grainy rap battle. Now hailed as one of the most important digital youth culture platforms, SBTV boasts over 950,000 subscribers and 600+ million views and has launched the careers of countless UK grime and hip-hop artists. On a mission to br…
 
This interactive and probing session uses the experience of a psychologist to gain insight into the art of directing actuality, the portrayal of character and examine whether we can ever get too close to the subject in documentaries. Moderated by Krishan Arora with Sean Mcallister, Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, Geoff Beattie and Stephen Arnott. Part of th…
 
Self-taught photographer and filmmaker, Khalik Allah's profoundly personal work has been described as "street opera"; visceral, haunting and honest. Having previously worked with Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep, Khalik's feature debut Field Niggas, garnered critical acclaim from the cultural press and his follow up Black Mother received its UK premier a…
 
Film and TV professionals at varying stages in their career discuss the successes (and challenges) that paved their way into the industry. With a panel made up of two BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, the Creative Producer of two award-winning feature documentaries, and a true innovator working in short-form, this panel is a must for anyone looking for adv…
 
Factual television is not an equal playing field. Women, ethnic minorities and those from a working class background are underrepresented in the industry. Apanel of commissioners and creators discuss the obstacles facing the factual industry in creating a truly diverse work force that represents and reflects Britain. Moderated by Anne Morrison with…
 
Matthew Heineman, the BAFTA- and Oscar- nominated director, is one of the most exciting documentary filmmakers working today. His films City of Ghosts and Cartel Land offered searing comment on the fight against ISIS and the war on drugs. In conversation with Mariayah Kaderbhai (BAFTA) Matthew discusses these films and his latest documentary series…
 
Are we entering a new "Golden Age" for feature documentary? Will new funding sources create a flurry of blockbuster features, or is cinema exhibition inexorably declining as audiences ‘Netflix and chill’? The rising power of SVOD platforms opens up new audiences and revenue streams, but may also be skewing the market towards over-long, sensational …
 
As both a high-profile activist and an international model, Munroe Bergdorf's experiences as a transgender woman remain the driving force behind her work. Voted 8th in Pride Power's Top 100 List 2017 Munroe uses her public platform to campaign for and support the trans community worldwide, and all those who define as 'women'. She joined us in conve…
 
Sheffield Doc/Fest and Channel 4 welcomed the Grimsby-born, TV adventurer, record breaker, motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic to the Festival for the first time. With inspirational documentaries, produced by North One, spanning world speed records, Formula 1 motor racing, the Wall of Death and his First World War tank build, the enigmatic Guy Mart…
 
Doc/Fest and Sky were delighted to welcome Sir Lenny Henry to the 2017 Festival. In conversation with June Sarpong, the celebrated comedian and actor discussed his game-changing career, his documentary work for Sky Arts and his drive to make change in the fields of arts, diversity and to tackle poverty through the charity Comic Relief. Supported by…
 
Sheffield Doc/Fest was thrilled to welcome the acclaimed Salford-based actress and writer Maxine Peake to the Festival for the first time. Talking to Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone Maxine discussed her love of documentary film and those docs that have inspired her life, her sense of humour, work and politics, including Andrew Kotting's idios…
 
Viewing of high quality factual TV content online has had a massive explosion in the last 18 months – with documentaries attracting millions of global viewers, but as a UK production company or an independent documentary maker, is online production really worth your time? A leading online producers and commissioners from YouTube, the BBC and Nation…
 
In these strange times with "the media” under attack in the West, there’s an urgent need for trustworthy storytelling that responds to current events – and documentary filmmakers are increasingly a part of this. As news organisations invest more in video, many are drawing on documentary techniques - following the best of TV news. How are some of th…
 
A distinguished panel from the world of film, media and politics discuss the rise of populism, ‘echo chambers’ and question how open we all are to contrary points of view in today’s media. The session was chaired by William Horsley and the panel featured Charlene White (ITV News), Sara Ramsden (Channel 4), Trevor Phillips OBE, Martin Durkin and Jol…
 
Filmmakers and commissioners at the 2017 Festival discuss the creative impact of Brexit on documentary-making in Britain. A year after Britain voted to leave Europe, we ask how best to represent the voices of those on both sides of the divide, and whether what we see on our screens is changing as a result of the triumph of the Brexiteers.…
 
Should Specialist Factual be a genre that takes more risks? With broadcast giants like Netflix and Amazon changing the landscape of TV, taking risks and winning big, how should terrestrial and cable channels be responding? Is it time for specialist factual to serve a different purpose? Ninder Billing chairs a panel from Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017 feat…
 
Acclaimed director and artist Peter Greenaway is widely regarded as one of the most important innovators of our time. His work stretches back to the 1960s and includes the feature The Cook the Thief his Wife her Lover and the multimedia project The Tulse Luper Suitcases. Peter came to Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017 to discuss his work and explore the chan…
 
How do different commissioners define a feature documentary? Is it based on viewer expectations, the importance of the central issue or simply its duration? Is a deeper level of access, revelation or visual ambition a must too? With feature docs available to consumers from an ever-increasing number of sources, what new opportunities does this offer…
 
There is a new vanguard in our media culture. A growing pool of talented and experienced women, tired of waiting for the film and TV industry to reach the 21st century, are driving it forward themselves. The voices of working mothers, and female perspectives in general, are being lost in the current industry climate. The women on this panel from Sh…
 
In a career spanning more than four decades, Nick Broomfield is one of the most influential documentary makers of our time. Having initially carved his name in hard hitting observational fare, when ‘Driving me Crazy’ went awry in 1988 Nick decided to place himself in the story, going on to make a number of acclaimed films including Biggie and Tupac…
 
Documentaries about the LGBT community have broken into the mainstream. Films like My Transexual Summer, Gay and Under Attack and Girls to Men have told a diverse range of stories. While some of these were celebrated, others were accused of being voyeuristic and exploitative. So what is the attitude of broadcasters, programme-makers and the film in…
 
Doc/Fest welcomed cricketing legend and former England captain, along with journalist and co-presenter Robert Penn, to the 2016 Festival, to talk about their popular series for Sky 1; ‘Flintoff: Lord of the Fries’ and ‘Freddie Fries Again’. Freddie and Rob discuss the making of the series that saw them traveling the UK and Ireland in their mobile f…
 
Doc/fest were thrilled to welcome Olly Alexander, frontman of the British electronica trio Years and Years to the Festival to discuss the making of his first documentary 'Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay’. The film has recently screened on BBC3 as part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season marking the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that…
 
Continuing the recent trend of aggressive M&A activity, streaming giants Netflix and Amazon snapped up a wealth of documentary content at this year’s Sundance festival in January. With the US, still a major export territory for UK content producers what do these continued shifts in commissioning sources and distribution platforms mean for the UK in…
 
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