Grab your fix of fantastic non-fiction
The 27th edition of the incredible Sheffield Doc/Fest was originally due to take place at the beginning of this month. Fortunately, many of the festival’s industry, talent and networking events are still going ahead in virtual form over the coming weeks. Last Wednesday the festival launched its Selects VOD platform featuring 70 titles from across the globe and Exchange programme, with eight free to view titles. Doc/Fest also confirmed that Festival Weekenders including physical screenings and events are hoped to be held in venues across Sheffield in October and November – we can’t wait!
If you’re anything like us though, this month you’ll really be missing your annual fix of fantastic non-fiction from all across the globe. Doc/Fest has its own curated list of titles from previous editions available to stream on its website, but if you’ve already checked it out and you’re still looking for a doc fix, we’ve picked some of our favourite documentaries currently available to stream elsewhere online…
For something extremely topical try The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, free to watch on Amazon until 21 June. A fascinating and eye-opening doc from 2011 that traces the evolution of the black power movement in America - a direct precursor to the Black Lives Matter movement and the activists fighting for racial justice today.
Another title that helps us to understand the contemporary moment, The Brink is a chilling portrait of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former Chief Strategist, and a key architect of Trump’s shock 2016 election victory.
For a dose of local pride, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets is a brilliant rock doc that sees Jarvis and the rest of the band return to Sheffield for their last ever UK concert in 2012. Mixing incredible live footage with funny and life-affirming interviews, the film paints a charming and vivid portrait of a band, and a city, like no other.
Atlantics, winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2019, was one of the most striking and exciting films of last year, and a firm favourite here at the Showroom. Atlantiques (free to watch for all on MUBI) is Mati Diop’s 2009 experimental non-fiction short, and the work that inspired her debut feature. The film sees a group of young Senegalese men gather round a camp-fire to share stories of their dangerous and harrowing journeys to Europe by boat.
For another intoxicating hit of northern creativity Deep in Vogue is a vibrant doc that shines a light on the vogueing subculture in Manchester’s LGBTQI+ community. The film provides a first-hand account of the ballroom scene in the North and explores its history and the cultural, personal, and political significance that it holds for Manchester’s LGBT and POC youth.
Most of the above docs are available to watch on MUBI and in MUBI Library which Showroom Members can access free for three months. Find out more here.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on 11 June 2020.