Sheffield DocFest: Film on Film

In celebration of the recent reopening of the Showroom cinema, I want to highlight a few titles from Sheffield DocFest’s Official Selection that takes cinema as its subject, including filmmakers who directly reference other filmmakers as the source of their inspiration. Through this act of homage, we experience film on film.  

In our Rhyme & Rhythm strand, which looks at where cinema meets other art forms, Sheffield DocFest will present a special screening of Sonia & Chantal: two films which explore the collaboration between the world-famous cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton and revered filmmaker Chantal Akerman. Their worlds of music and cinema interweave when Vivian Ostrovsky muses on the role of music in Akerman’s films, and how she and cellist Wieder-Atherton work together in Son Chant. Sitting before Chantal Akerman, the world-famous cellist talks about her life and art in Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton.

Premiering as part of the Rebellions strand, which aims to illuminate cinema’s role in documenting – and tangibly contributing to – the myriad forms of resistance that continue to persist worldwide, is Just a Movement. Here filmmaker Vincent Meessen takes Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 film La Chinoise as its starting point, reallocates its roles and characters, and transfers the setting and history from Paris to contemporary Dakar.

Also in Rebellions, is Let’s Start Again, a programme of three acts, in which cinema is the inspiration. We begin with Civil WarSurveillance Poemsby Mitch McCabe, a speculative film contemplating an impending American civil war, mixing call-in radio and twenty years of verité footage from the filmmaker’s archive. In the latest from Lynne Sachs, E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo,Sachs ponders the filmmaker’s 1933 classic Zéro de conduite in relation to the 6 January 2021 assault on the US Capitol by right-wing activists. Finally, we find ourselves sitting at a familiar round table in Two Minutes to Midnight by Yael Bartana, where a group of actors gather to play the all-female government of an imaginary nation. As an enemy threat looms, they prepare their Peace Room, a knowing inversion of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove’s War Room.

To quote Sheffield DocFest Director Cíntia Gil:
"The importance and urgency of cinema has only grown since we last saw a film on the big screen."

To the cinema!

Melanie Iredale is the Deputy Director of Sheffield DocFest.

Watch Sonia & Chantal: Son Chant and Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton + Pre-recorded Q&A with Vivian Ostrovsky (dir. Son Chant) and Sonia Wieder-Atheron, hosted by Associate Programmer Agnès Wildenstein

Watch Just a Movement + Live online Q&A with director Vincent Meessen, hosted by Programmer Rabz Lansiquot

Watch Civil War Surveillance Poems + Live online Q&A with director Mitch McCabe, hosted by Festival Director Cíntia Gil

Watch E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo + Live online Q&A with director Lynne Sachs and Festival Director Cíntia Gil

Watch Two Minutes to Midnight + Online-only Q&A with director Yael Bartana and Festival Director Cíntia Gil

The 28th edition of Sheffield DocFest runs from 4-13 June 2021.


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