Sheffield fest tastes joy, division

Docu event closes Sunday

SHEFFIELD, England — There was a lot of joy and some division at the opening of the 14th Sheffield Documentary Festival on Wednesday, as industry execs and aspiring filmmakers mingled.

Though primarily a showcase for docs from around the world, it was the distinctly British “Joy Division,” about the ill-fated 1980s Manchester rock band, that opened proceedings.

Doc received its European preem at Sheffield with Joy Division founding member Peter Hook and veteran journalist John Savage in attendance alongside helmer Grant Gee.

Opening with a spirit of rock and rebellion was fitting given this year’s fest boasted a lineup filled with docs about music, politics, gay pride and the environment, alongside a number of sports themed pics.

Well-attended panel sessions and workshops looked at issues such as the rapid growth of the online documentary, the challenges faced from ever-changing TV trends and how the documentary format is celebrating success on the widescreen worldwide.

Festival-goers were treated to a full list of world preems, including the BBC-HBO co-production “The Boys from Baghdad High,” about the exploits of four Iraqi school friends from multi-sect backgrounds.

The five day event is set to close Sunday following the Grierson Award ceremony that will announce this year’s launch of three new award categories: The Green Award, The Innovation Award and the Youth Jury Award for new docs.

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