Announcing 2024 Opening Night Film, Guest of Honour and one of our headline talks

Two people sat on chairs looking in to the camera

We are excited to announce our Opening Night Film, Guest of Honour, and one of our headline talks, ahead of our full Programme Launch on 8 May. 

Our 31st Edition festival will open on 12 June with the World Premiere of Kevin Macdonald’s Klitschko: More Than a Fight; we welcome Roger Ross Williams as our Guest of Honour for 2024; and are pleased to announce Anna Hall will be joining our speakers line up, hosting an in-person talk taking place at The Crucible Theatre.


Opening Night Film: Klitschko: More Than a Fight

We are thrilled to announce the world premiere of Kevin Macdonald’s Klitschko: More Than a Fight to open this year’s festival on 12 June 2024 at Sheffield City Hall.

Sky Original Klitschko: More Than a Fight offers audiences unprecedented access to former heavyweight boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir, who together dominated the sport for more than a decade. Now the longest serving Mayor of Kyiv, this feature-length documentary charts Vitali’s journey from the ring to political office, leading the defence of the capital when it was attacked by Russian forces in February 2022 to the present day.

While Wladimir uses his celebrity status and popularity to help raise funds and military support for the defence of Ukraine, the heart of the story is the remarkable transformation of Vitali from sporting hero to political figurehead. From the face of the opposition in the 2014 Maidan Revolution to the mayor running on an anti-corruption card, Vitali tests his leadership capabilities as he’s put in charge of the safety of millions of Kyiv citizens, with the eyes of the world watching.   

Academy Award® winner Kevin Macdonald (High & Low - John Galliano, Touching the Void, One Day in September) directs, delving into exclusive personal archives, combining the retrospective story of the Klitschko brothers’ Soviet childhood and their incredible sporting career, with present day footage shot by Director of Photography and Co-Director Edgar Dubrovskiy (The Tinder Swindler) in Ukraine, the US and Germany. The film captures the personal toll it takes to hold the city together during wartime. The film, produced by Docsville Studios and Sky Studios, will be broadcast on Sky Documentaries and NOW in the UK and other Sky territories including Germany later this year.

Kevin Macdonald, says: “Like many people around the world I was shocked and outraged by the aggression, murder and wanton destruction of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I wanted to help in some small way - and making a documentary is the only way I have at my disposal.  I’m grateful to Sky for enabling us to make this film, sometimes in the face of great obstacles, and to the Klitschko brothers for allowing us access to the most personal parts of their lives and showing us what bravery and resilience really mean."

Annabel Grundy, Sheffield DocFest Managing Director, says: “Kevin Macdonald joined us in Sheffield in 2023 as Mentor for our Filmmaker Challenge, inspiring participants to take a creative and compassionate approach to their works.  With ‘Klitschko: More than a Fight’ we see his commitment to artistry and authenticity in equal measure; we’re honoured to welcome him back to present this incredible portrait of hope,charisma and determination to make a difference.”

Guest of Honour: Roger Ross Williams

Headshot of Roger Ross Williams

We are delighted to announce this year's Guest of Honour will be Roger Ross Williams the critically acclaimed and award-winning director, producer, and writer –and the first African American director to win an Academy Award®, with his film Music by Prudence. Williams’ impactful and diverse range of documentary films span topics such as the black American experience, living with disabilities and the cultural ramifications of Western religion in Africa.

Roger Ross Williams will present a specially curated programme of five social impact documentaries and moderate a panel discussion with the filmmakers. The films in this programme present well-crafted stories that shed light on oppressive histories in order to disassemble their effect in both the present and future; the films not only tackle important subjects, they are poetic and creative. Williams will also take part in an In Conversation talk, discussing and reflecting on his career. 

Roger Ross Williams says: “I chose these films because they highlight the complex social dilemmas of our times. Each is an example of an effective collaboration between filmmakers from different backgrounds who each bring their unique life experiences to the table. In a time when dog-whistle politics aim to separate us and erect social walls between us, these filmmaking teams have used their distinct perspectives to chart a course toward community and healing.”

Raul Niño Zambrano, Sheffield DocFest Creative Director added: “Roger Ross Williams’ journey as a documentary filmmaker is a testament to his vision, creativity, and passion for storytelling. His works as a director, such as The Apollo & Life, Animated, and his works as a producer for titles such as Master of Light (Winner of our First Feature Competition at Sheffield DocFest 2022), have been instrumental in educating, enlightening, and inspiring audiences globally. We believe that his insights and experiences would be invaluable to our festival attendees, aspiring filmmakers, and all those who are passionate about the art of filmmaking.”

Channel 4 Interview: Anna Hall

Headshot of Anna Hall

This year's Channel 4 Interview is with Anna Hall, the award-winning filmmaker with 30 years of experience, renowned for her 17-year enquiry into gang grooming where she broke the CSE story in 2004 with her debut doc Edge of the City for Channel 4. Her diverse portfolio spans from The Family Secret to A Day in a Life of Coronavirus Britain, and her recent work includes BAFTA-winning Libby, Are You Home Yet and the recent smash hit The Push

Anna continues to make impactful contributions to the industry and envisions her company Candour as a haven for northern filmmakers. Hall is the sole woman nominated consecutively for the BAFTA CRAFT Best Factual Director and was awarded the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award 2023 and Best Producer at the WFTV Awards 2021.

Anna Hall says “I love coming to Sheffield DocFest. It’s the grounding in my year: a chance to meet up with old friends but, more importantly, I always leave feeling inspired by some work that I’ve seen or someone’s bravery in why they made a film or full of awe at someone’s beautiful creativity & storytelling.”


We will announce our 2024 theme on Thursday 2nd May, with our full public programme announced and tickets on sale on 8 May. We will also release our industry programme of sessions, pitches, networking and receptions on 15 May.

The Festival Pass is available from £204 and provides access to the full festival programme of films, exhibitions, talks, panels, industry sessions and live pitches, networking events and parties. 

Be the envy of documentary fans everywhere and become a DocLover at this year's Sheffield DocFest. From only £33, you can see the best of the fest, for less. Available from 8 May. 

Sheffield DocFest is made possible thanks to the support of our partners, funders and sponsors, including Principal Funders BFI, Sheffield City Council and Arts Council England.

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