sheffield doc/fest is back with brilliantly diverse, queer line-up

The international documentary festival returns in June with a vibrant line up of real life films about young black activists in britain, lgbt issues worldwide, a dance extravaganza and loads more.

by Colin Crummy
05 May 2016, 11:00am


Sheffield Doc/Fest, the UK's leading documentary festival returns in June with a line up that includes portraits of political instigators, LGBT youth, sporting, cultural and cinematic icons.

Local and international activism is given the big screen treatment in a number of films. In Generation Revolution, directors Usayd Younis and Cassie Quarless document the young black and brown activists instigating social and political change in London, in the film's world premiere. There is a welcome airing of Nanfu Wang's first person account on the frontline of activism in China in Hooligan Sparrow. And in Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, a group of lesbian women fight to clear their names after being found guilty of gang raping two young girls in 1994.

There is a strong LGBT presence across the festival strands but a revived Queer strand includes a look at how the world of ballroom provides community for a new set of LGBT youth in New York in Kiki; meanwhile Strike a Pose follows the professional dancers who took voguing to the masses as the backups on Madonna's Blond Ambition tour.

Madonna pops up again in Uncle Howard, filmmaker Aaron Brookner's archival story of his director uncle, Williams Burroughs biographer and player on the 80s New York scene whose work fell beneath the cracks when he died of AIDS in 1989. Out Run follows three Filipino transgender women attempting to win seats for LGBT candidates. And in Back on Board, former Olympic diver Greg Louganis, whose HIV + status caused controversy in sporting circles at the time of his coming out in 1995, is profiled.

Athleticism on the field and on the dancefloor proves a strong presence at the festival. Serena Williams, fresh from twerking in Beyonce's Lemonade, is the subject of Ryan White's access all areas doc on the iconic tennis player. A major dance strand includes behind the scenes look at a number of ballet companies from Paris Opera Ballet to American Ballet Theatre while Storyboard P, a Stranger in Sweden, is a portrait of the Jay Z collaborating, flex dancer from Brooklyn, who will perform after the screening.

Cinema heavyweights will be in Sheffield for the festival. Michael Moore opens the festival with his new work, Where to Invade Next. Ken Loach will be celebrated with a screening for Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach, followed by a Q&A with one of Britain's foremost filmmakers. Tilda Swinton directs another celebration of a British artist, this time art critic john Berger in The Seasons of Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger. This closing night film of the festival will include a Q&A with Tilda Swinton and co director Bartek Dziadosz.

Ticket information and schedule are at The festival runs from 10 - 15 June.


Text Colin Crummy

Sheffield Doc Fest