#SheffDocFest 2018 Diary | Part 1

In 2018/19 academic year, BA H Media and Communications will introduce a brand new course Rethinking Documentary – with cutting edge research, alternative modalities, and latest in international documentary film production. Sheffield Doc Fest is a great inspiration for the module design, as well as for the latest and trendiest in non-fiction communications. Programme Leader Dr Maria Korolkova and Corse Leader Dr Jodi Nelson-Tabor got into the Festival’s 25th edition to discover and share and create.

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Here are top 5 films to study the current state of documentary thought as chosen by Media and Communications:

  1. The Eyes of Orson Welles by the visionary Mark Cousins @markcousinsfilms premiered at #SheffDocFest 2018 as a poetic hyper-visual biography of the American director, actor and artist. With exclusive access to hundreds of private drawings and paintings by Orson Welles, Mark Cousins dives into the world of the legendary man to reveal a portrait of the artist as he’s never been seen – through Welles’ own eyes, letters, and postcards. He vividly brings to life the passions, politics and power of this brilliant 20th-century showman, exploring his genius in the age of Trump, and asks what would Mark do had he lived today.

2. What Is Democracy? (2018) by Canadian Astra Taylor looks into the global threat to the current political situation with the eyes of a modern woman to probe the meaning of the democratic institution itself. Featuring a wide range of big thinkers from Cornel West to Silvia Federici, Taylor interweaves discussions about democracy’s philosophical underpinnings with evidence of its all too flawed implementation, traveling from Athens, the birthplace of Plato’s Republic, to Trump’s unsettled America. She meets Syrian refugees and Greek politicians only to ask the question, which remains unanswered – not so much what is democracy, but why it clearly does not work today.



3. Against the Tides by Stefan Stuckert tells the story of an extraordinary woman, marathon swimmer Beth French, attempting the world’s most extreme swimming challenge. Driven to be a role model for her autistic son, and by her battle with lifelong illness (ME), Beth confronts jellyfish, sharks, wild weather and reluctant skippers. But as her journey unfolds, dangers of the sea prove easier to conquer than upheavals of the heart.



4. Victory Day by Sergei Loznitsa, yet another documentary monument (or monumentary document) to the life of remembering, and a thin line between political and personal memoirs of Russia’s greatest day. Subtle, funny, disturbing and wonderfully real.

Once a year, crowds gather in Berlin’s Treptower Park to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Russia’s master of sustained observation, Sergei Loznitsa, captures the medal bedecked veterans and burly biker gangs assembling for this spring day of patriotic songs and speeches. Loznitsa’s carefully framed compositions become a meditation on the nationalistic myths still gripping Europe.


5. The Proposal by Jill Madig. Conceptual artist Jill Magid grapples with the contested legacy of Luis Barragán, Mexico’s most famous architect to discover a fascinating story of death, diamonds and architecture, that poses v important questions of ownership, copyright, belonging and fandom that could take one very far…

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