Cíntia Gil, new director of Sheffield Doc/Fest, has penned an open letter to the doc world in which she underlined the festival’s core values and commitments to the genre, announced the event’s 2020 structure and expressed her admiration for the host city.
“Sheffield is a unique city with a strong heritage forged by working people. It is also a city that has embraced culture and creativity with a population that challenges the status quo politically, economically and socially. My view of Sheffield is therefore one of admiration: the dignity of a city and its populace that has retained an air of freedom and rebellion in our present times,” she said.
“Doc/Fest is a film and arts festival that gathers filmmakers, practitioners, artists, children, and people from diverse backgrounds into a common task: to imagine life and a view of the world through the lens, to critically discuss it and take ownership of it,” she added.
“A film and arts festival is an opportunity for change. It is not about judging one another or producing rules and norms, it is about questioning rules and norms and questioning ourselves.”
Gil further underlined her event’s core principles: “No festival, as an artistic space, is neutral,” she said. “Doc/Fest will make choices, and will stand for its core values of empathy and inclusiveness through its Film and Arts programme, its Talks and debates and the Talent and Marketplace projects it supports.
“Doc/Fest will prioritise free artistic ventures over the transformation of film into entertainment product for profit. We will prioritise education and internationalism over any kind of nationalism. We will prefer films and artworks made politically over political propaganda offering easy conclusions. We will prefer peripheries over centres. We will prefer the plurality of lives over the commodification of identities. We will be open to criticism and prepared to have difficult discussions.”
The 2020 programme will comprise international and UK competitions as well as a series of themed programmes.
‘Into the World’ will include films by essential directors with essential themes that take varied approaches to exploring our past, present and collective future.
‘Rebellions’ asks/explores what happens when a human who wants to change the world encounters a camera and, conversely, what happens when a film changes a human being.
‘Rhyme and Rhythm’ will be a film programme incorporating and interacting with other arts and practices, from music to performing arts, from visual arts to literature, offering “encounters and inspirations to a different beat”.
The festival describes its Ghosts and Apparitions strand thus: “Since the first glimpses of the moving image, ghosts were haunting our imaginations, including those yet to be. A ghost from then meets a ghost from now – histories and collective memory are born. And cinema: the dismantling of frontiers.”
The vision and direction of the Alternate Realities artists and exhibition programme will be announced 27 January 2020.