Announcing our 2024 Theme: Reflections on Realities

Reflections of Realities

Sheffield DocFest announces Reflections on Realities as its 2024 theme and a special programme of films and conversations titled ‘Days of Reflection’ on the themes of Co-Resistance, Freedom of the Press, Ancestral Lands and Archiving the Present. 


Sheffield DocFest firmly believes in the transformative power of documentaries to spark curiosity, engage audiences, and foster meaningful discussions. As a film festival committed to upholding freedom of expression, we actively facilitate activities that support filmmakers in their creative endeavours and aid in connecting their finished works with diverse audiences. This year, recognising the interconnected challenges of rising polarisation, freedom of the press, attacks on independent journalism and the many violent conflicts around the world, we have thought deeply about our position and responsibility as a charity committed to advancing the art of documentary.

We are proud of our history as a platform where diverse perspectives can flourish. Therefore, in alignment with our values of empathy, creativity, freedom, and inclusivity, we will centre this year's festival on a deep reflection of the realities depicted in our film selection. Films will serve as the heart of our conversations, and we will hold space following the screenings, for meaningful discussions to unfold.

As part of our Days of Reflection, and throughout our full programme, we will present a daily reflection screening and moderated conversation, bringing together filmmakers across the programme to reflect on themes of: Co-Resistance, Freedom of the Press, Ancestral Lands and Archiving the Present.

We invite you to reflect with us, and the filmmakers who share their films with us, as we explore these relevant, urgent, interconnected tensions affecting all our lives and creative practice.



A person in the middle of the frame lying down in a grassy area

Image: No Other Land (2024)

From Uruguayan sex workers advocating for policy change, to Indian farmers and their families protesting unjust laws, this conversation delves into the transformative power of collective action in fostering understanding and genuine dialogue. At the heart of this panel is No Other Land, which documents the alliance between a Palestinian activist and an Israeli journalist. The Palestinian-Israeli collective of filmmakers and activists behind the film will share insights on how co-creation can ensure dialogue over polemic and emphasize the importance of solidarity and mutual support in pursuing shared goals.


Freedom of the Press

A building on fire

Image: State of Silence (2024)

Around the globe, journalists face targeting by governments and corporations, hindering their ability to perform their vital roles. In State of Silence we follow a handful of journalists who speak of the atrocities and threats they face for reporting from the frontlines of Sinaloa, Tapachula, Morelos, and other cities in Mexico. The realities of the Mexican journalists, as well as those featured in other films in the selection, will be at the centre of the ensuing conversation around the delicate state of journalism worldwide.



Ancestral Lands

A person on the right hand side of the frame with their arm reaching towards the camera with police behind them

Image: Yintah (2024)

In this year’s programme filmmakers from Indigenous communities in Colombia, Canada, and Greenland are using documentary as a means to express, critique, and document their current and past realities. Moreover, land rights have evolved into a pivotal issue of social and economic importance, evident in films that delve into social identity, alongside present and post conflict situations. Yintah charts the plight of the Wet'suwet'en people, fighting for their land and territory against the Canadian government's massive fossil fuel pipeline expansion plans. The conversation around this documentary will look at the intersection of capitalism, climate crisis and Indigenous rights, and how it connects with other films in the programme.


Archiving the Present

A person wearing glasses on the right hand side of the frame

Image: Witnesses. Captivity That Kills (2024)

How can we document and preserve material while conflicts are raging? Join us to explore the critical role of war archives in countering propaganda and shaping our understanding of history. This panel will discuss the reliance on eyewitness testimonies, the ethical considerations of archival storage, and the potential of AI in authenticating history. Central to this conversation will be Witnesses. Captivity That Kills, a film created by the team of the Ukraine War Archive project, that presents unique testimonies about the Russian war collected in 2022-2023.


As an organisation, we denounce all forms of violence and discrimination worldwide. In light of the attacks in Israel on October 7th and the war in Palestine, and the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, we support the call for a ceasefire and the release of all hostages. We condemn this war and all the wars affecting millions worldwide, and thank the courageous filmmakers from the Middle East, Ukraine and Sudan who bring their stories to us this year. We mourn the loss of all lives in these and all conflicts, and the unacceptable erasure of journalists, visual artists, and film workers. As an anti-racist organisation we stand firmly against the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and all forms of racism and hate speech.

Finally, we remain committed to our Safer Festival Policy and will challenge and address any discriminatory or harmful behaviour at any of our events. Read the policy here:


No Other Land

Directors, Writers: Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Rachel Szor & Yuval Abraham

Producers: Fabien Greenberg & Bård Kjøge Rønning

Photography: Rachel Szor 

Editors: Basel Adra, Hamdan Billal, Yuval Abraham & Rachel Szor

Sound Designer: Bård Harazi Farbu

Production Companies: Antipode Films, Yabayay

Countries of Production: Palestine, Norway

Runtime: 95 min

Languages: Arabic, Hebrew, English

DocFest Premiere: UK Premiere

Awards: Visions du Reel (Audience Award), Berlinale (Panorama Documentary Audience Award), CPH:DOX (Audience Award)


State of Silence

Director: Santiago Maza

Producer: Abril López Carrillo

Cinematographer: Odei Zabalta

Editors: Sebastián Nuño, Jonás García

Production Co.: La Corriente del Golfo

Executive Producers: Diego Luna, Santiago Maza, Gael García Bernal, Joris Debeij

Country of Production: Mexico 

Runtime: 83 minutes 

Languages: Spanish

DocFest Premiere Status: European Premiere



Directors: Jennifer Wickham, Brenda Michell, Michael Toledano

Producers: Jennifer Wickham, Brenda Michell, Michael Toledano, Bob Moore

Cinematographer: Michael Toledano

Editor: Ryan Mullins

Executive Producers: Sam Vinal, Doris Rosso, Daniel Cross, Mila Aung-Thwin

Country of Production: Canada

Runtime: 125 mins

Languages: English, Witsuwit’en

DocFest Premiere: European Premiere


Witnesses. Captivity That Kills

Directors: Maryna Roshchyna, Tetiana Symon

Producers: Maryna Roshchyna, Tetiana Symon

Cinematographers: Roman Synchuk, Rita Burkovska, Volodymyr Zayets

Editors: Maryna Roshchyna, Tetiana Symon

Production Co.: The War Archive project in cooperation with the NGO Docudays (Ukraine) and Infoscope Ltd. (UK)

Country of Production: Ukraine

Runtime: 50 mins

Languages Ukrainian 

DocFest Premiere: International Premiere (following its World Premiere at the 21st Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, June 2024) 


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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