In 2019 the festival introduces Spotlight conversations to the film programme presenting premiere screenings and deep conversations with contemporary masters of non-fiction cinema. Capturing reality is a messy art form: never distant from the events unfolding on screen, slicing up stories that live beyond the film. Spotlight creates a forum for discussion, disagreement and learning by framing a series of films with poignant, pressing and prescient conversations on the art and subjects of non-fiction cinema. Each screening presents an unmissable opportunity to hear directly from the filmmakers.
Opening Night: Diego Maradona
6 Jun Doors 18:00 for 18:45 start City Hall
Our opening night film will be the UK premiere of Diego Maradona, a revealing and immersive work of archival craft. Having never won a major tournament, SSC Napoli had always underachieved. But when Diego Maradona arrived in 1984, all hell broke loose. In a city where the devil would have needed bodyguards, Maradona became bigger than God himself. This is the wild and unforgettable story of a God-given talent, glory, despair and betrayal, of corruption and ultimately redemption. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with Asif Kapadia.
+ Conversation with Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts hosted by Jon Snow
8 June 18:00 Bertha DocHouse Showroom 4
Told as a message from a young Syrian mother Waad al-Kateab to her daughter, For Sama traces Waad’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth. An intimate, visceral documentary about the female experience of war, Waad’s camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as she wrestles with an impossible choice – whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with the filmmakers hosted by journalist Jon Snow
+ Conversation with Jeanie Finlay and Freddy McConnell
8 June 15:00 Bertha DocHouse Showroom 4
Freddy is 30 and yearns to start a family but this poses unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man. Deciding to carry his own baby took years of soul searching, but he was unprepared for the reality of pregnancy, both physically and challenging society's fundamental understanding of gender & family. Against a backdrop of hostility towards trans people, he is forced to confront his naivety. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmaker Jeanie Finlay and protagonist Freddy McConnell.
+ Conversation With Ursula Macfarlane
8 June 18:00 Crucible Theatre
The inside story of the meteoric rise and shocking fall of movie titan Harvey Weinstein, Untouchable reveals how Weinstein acquired and deployed his formidable power over decades, exploring both the method and the collateral damage of his alleged abuses. A haunting parable for our times, the film is also a beacon call for future generations. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmaker Ursula Macfarlane and guests.
+ Conversation With Nick Broomfield
9 June 18:15 Crucible Theatre
Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen’s love began on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra in 1960 as part of a bohemian community of foreign artists, writers and musicians. The film follows their relationship from the early days on Hydra, a humble time of ‘free love’ and open marriage, to how their love evolved when Leonard became a successful musician. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmaker Nick Broomfield.
+ Conversation With Ai Weiwei
7 June 18:00 Crucible Theatre
The Rest is a film about refugees who fled war and persecution and arrived in Europe, the world’s bastion of human rights, yet have not found the safe havens of their dreams. Instead, they now live in limbo within a disintegrating humanitarian aid system, no longer the centre of media attention. The film is a mirror of the European political zeitgeist, demonstrating how pan-European values of liberalism and democracy have largely failed in practice. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with artist Ai Weiwei.
+ Conversation with Werner Herzog
8 June 21:15 Crucible Theatre
When British writer and adventurer Bruce Chatwin was dying of AIDS, he gave his friend Werner Herzog the rucksack that he carried on all of his adventures around the world. Now, three decades later, carrying the rucksack, Herzog sets out on his own journey inspired by Chatwin’s passion for the nomadic life. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmaker Werner Herzog.
+ Conversation with Seamus Murphy
8 June 21:30 Bertha DocHouse Showroom 4
Award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy has made an illuminating film that investigates the creative process behind his project with PJ Harvey. While tracing the sources of her songs and detailing the journey of their birth, he brings to life the people and places at their very heart. The artist and creative act are unfolded in fragmented scenes of inspiration and musical process. This premiere screening will be followed by a conversation with photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy.