Sheffield Doc/Fest

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Field Notes part I — Huck's roundup of the best new documentaries from Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival.

If you’ve got a compelling idea for a documentary project, have a finished film you need to get out into the world or just want to see some of the world’s best documentaries before anybody else, then Sheffield International Documentary Festival (Doc/Fest for short) is where you need to be. It’s the biggest festival of documentary film in the UK (and the third largest in the world) and the place where filmmakers, funders and distributors come together in an extravaganza of pitching, schmoozing and roller discos to hammer out the deals that get films made and onto screens. But more important than the movements of the money machine going on in the background are the films themselves, so here is our roundup of the best of the festival so far. To be continued.

Stop At Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story

As far as stories in cycling go, there aren’t any bigger than the monumental rise and sudden fall from grace of Lance Armstrong. To celebrate the start of this year’s Tour de France in Yorkshire, one strand of the festival focusses on cycling docs, but Alex Holmes’ Stop At Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story recalls a dark era in cycling history that the Tour’s organisers would probably prefer to forget. Unfortunately, like Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie (also on show at the festival), for cycling fans or anyone else who has followed the doping saga, Stop At Nothing has very little new to say, apart from a sting in the tale where it points out how few those who enabled and profited from Armstrong’s deception have faced any consequences.

Stop At Nothing-Huck

We Are Many

Amir Amirani’s We Are Many tells the story of the largest global protest in history, the world-wide demonstrations against the Iraq war on February 15, 2003. The film expertly pieces together the events of that momentous day, but also looks at its impact on world events in the following decade, from Tahrir Square to the vote against war on Syria. The exceptional film sold out both its screenings at the festival and got standing ovations each time.

Return to Homs

Return to Homs captures the euphoric mood that swept through the city in the early days of the resistance against Assad but was quickly dashed as the dictator’s troops lay siege to the city and disillusionment and bitterness set in. As you would expect from a film that goes right to the heart of the Syrian conflict, this is a harrowing experience to behold but a brave and vital piece of filmmaking from director Talal Derki.

Stay locked to the Huck site for more from Sheffield Doc/Fest.