Doc/Fest 2016: Programme highlights

One of the annual highlights of the documentary calendar, Sheffield Doc/Fest returns this June (10-15) with another reassuringly full programme that’s true testament to the current health of factual filmmaking. Opening this year’s festival is the UK premiere of the wildly entertaining Where to Invade Next, Oscar-winning director Michael Moore’s valiant return to form as he takes tips from Europe and beyond on a quest to solve America’s ills. Closing the festival is Tilda Swinton’s The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, a loving tribute to the English novelist, painter and poet.

With 27 world premieres, 15 international, 19 European and an astonishing 52 UK premieres, the Doc/Fest 2016 film programme is shaping up to be an incredible year of firsts for many amazing documentaries from 49 countries including Mexico, India, Ukraine, Russia, Cuba, China and Peru. As has now become tradition, a number of high profile documentaries making their European and UK bows are graduates of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. A failed New York mayoral campaign goes under the microscope in Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner, an examination of disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign and today’s political landscape. Duplicity can also be found in Author: The JT LeRoy Story, a tricksy examination of the zeitgeist-grabbing rise and fall of cult writer JT LeRoy – those who think they know the full story are in for plenty of surprises.

More acclaimed factual filmmakers at this year’s festival include Louis Theroux with his stranger than fiction film about the Church of Scientology, My Scientology Movie; Oscar winner Morgan Neville with The Music of Strangers profiling acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble profiling the acclaimed cellist and his experimental band of musicians; winner of an IDFA Special Jury Prize, Roman Bondarchuk meets the men trying to keep the peace with neighbouring Russia in Ukrainian Sheriffs; and winner of the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize, George Gittoes, encourages children in Taliban controlled Jalalabad to put down their weapons and pick up a camera in the UK premiere of Snow Monkey.

Liz McIntyre, CEO & Festival Director, had this to say on the programme launch:“We’re living through extraordinary, tumultuous and exhilarating times and this year’s Doc/Fest captures this zeitgeist across its three programmes: Film, Alternate Realities and Talks & Sessions. I am excited that the Festival is bookended by two incredible talents, Michael Moore and Tilda Swinton; I am utterly intrigued to hear the android Bina48 give the keynote speech at the Alternate Realities Summit. The Talks & Sessions programme will tackle head on fascinating and challenging topics, from documentary disruptors, to an examination of diversity in the industry.”

Sheffield Doc/Fest takes place from 10-15 June. For info and to buy tickets visit

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