Announcing our full programme for Sheffield DocFest 2022

Sheffield DocFest 2022 poster

ReConnect with Documentary

We're proud to reveal our full Film programme, Alternate Realities exhibitions, Industry programme and Talks & Sessions, for the 29th edition of Sheffield DocFest. We invite you to ‘ReConnect’ with documentary - and each other - in Sheffield, 23-28 June and explore the programme.

  • 38 World Premieres, 22 International Premieres, 11 European Premieres in the film programme including new works by Emma Davie, Werner Herzog and Rodrigo Reyes.
  • 5 World Premieres, 6 International Premieres, 3 European Premieres in the Alternate Realities programme of technologically innovative non-fiction and immersive documentaries including new works by Jad Abumrad, Dries Depoorter and  Rachel Briscoe.
  • Headline talks from Guest Curator Asif Kapadia with editor Chris King; Brett Morgen (Moonage Daydream), Pratibha Parmar (My Name is Andrea) and David Olusoga: (StoryTrails)
  • Key Broadcaster talks include the BBC Interview: with the renowned journalist, newsreader and presenter; Clive Myrie; the Channel 4 Interview: with Will Young who will be discussing the recent documentary Losing My Twin Rupert;  and the ITV Interview: with the British Paralympian swimmer, Ellie Simmonds.

Alex Cooke, Chair of the Board of Trustees, says: “Sheffield DocFest is back in-person! We are excited to come back together, to re-connect. The festival team have worked tirelessly, through waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, to bring you this impressive, jam-packed line-up of world class events. There has never been a more important time for documentaries. They take us into worlds and lives and help us understand, they let us empathise, and they hold those in power to account. This special Festival affords us a community, one to find real comfort in. I hope you forge new friendships; I hope you feel welcome, I hope you leave feeling re-energised and mostly, I hope you have some much-needed fun.”

As previously announced, Sheffield DocFest opens with the UK premiere of a film that will thrill David Bowie fans and film-lovers alike. Brett Morgen’s glorious cinematic odyssey Moonage Daydream, screens at the legendary Sheffield City Hall 50 years after Bowie first played the historic Sheffield music venue in June 1972. Morgen will participate in an In Conversation as part of the Talks programme and give a Masterclass as part of the Craft Summit.

Clare Stewart, Interim CEO Sheffield DocFest says: 

“Sheffield DocFest has an extraordinary legacy of connecting the global documentary ecosystem with the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire. As one of the world’s leading documentary festivals, and the UK’s only film marketplace, we create opportunities for business through our industry programme, for creativity by bringing filmmakers and artists together, and for exchange between makers and audiences through our screening programmes, exhibitions and talks & sessions. We can’t wait to bring everyone back together again at this year’s Festival.”

Three exceptional collaborations have shaped this year’s Festival programme: firstly with Guest Curator Asif Kapadia, who joined when the Festival was starting this year’s programming journey, and whose own contribution is a testimony to how great documentaries of the past can shape the creative imaginations of the future; then, an urgent and important collaboration with respected colleagues at Docudays UA, who started working with Sheffield DocFest when their own Festival could not go ahead due to the Russian invasion; and finally, with Kat Cizek at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab, who worked with the Festival’s creative leads on a programme that illuminates the philosophies and practices of Co-Creation, filmmaking that cares - like so many great documentaries do - about changing our world, for the better.


The three Special Programmes that headline this year’s selection:

Ukraine. Password: Palianytsia

In solidarity with Ukraine, we have collaborated with Docudays UA - the Ukraine’s leading international human rights documentary festival - to present Password: Palianytsia. This programme. will launch the British Council and Ukrainian Institute’s ‘UK/Ukraine Season of Culture’ with the World Premiere of One Day in Ukraine, by media activist and filmmaking collective Babylon’13.  It includes nine new documentaries alongside VR and artwork, as well as five projects in MeetMarket, the Festival’s pitching forum, and three Work-in-Progress presentations.. It provides a powerful encounter with contemporary Ukrainian life - including the horrific reality of the Russian invasion and the current war.

A Documentary Journey with Asif Kapadia

Our 2022 Guest Curator, award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, selects documentaries that had significant impact for him, inspiring his own style and creative choices. Highlights include Martin Scorsese’s Italianamerican, Jean Bach’s A Great Day in Harlem, and When We Were Kings – about the boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Kapadia says: “Without this film, there would be no Amy. There would be no Senna. There would be no Diego Maradona”. Kapadia will also appear in conversation with his long-time collaborator in Cutting the ‘Fame’ Trilogy: Asif Kapadia and Chris King.

Co-Creation: Changing our World

While selecting films and immersive projects for this year’s Sheffield DocFest - from over 2200 entries - the Festival team witnessed an increase in collective filmmaking and more works emerging that demonstrate the practices and philosophies of Co-Creation. Curated with Katerina Cizek at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab’s Co-Creation Studio, this programme illuminates the practice of making documentary work from within communities and making films with people, rather than for, or about, them. The programme pairs new projects with emblematic works from the past with highlights including Overcoming Darkness (Ukraine war) paired with America aka Amerika (Vietnam war) showing different grassroots collectives approach to news reporting; and Sound Voice Project (2021) paired with Songbirds (2006), projects where both directors worked with communities to portray their stories in song. Katerina Cizek will lead a keynote address Co-Creation: Collective Dreams,​​ outlining the practices and philosophies of co-creation according to MIT’s Open Documentary Lab’s Co-Creation manifesto, and will be joined by some of the artists whose works feature in this strand.


Film Programme

Our 2022 film programme totals 135 films (95 features and 40 shorts), including 38 World Premieres, 22 International Premieres, 11 European Premieres, 46 UK Premieres and 18 retrospective films. Titles screen in three competition sections - International Competition, International First Feature Competition and International Short Film Competition - as well as six strand sections - Rhythms, Debates, People & Community, Memories, Rebellions and Journeys.

Raul Niño Zambrano, Head of Film Programmes says: “The 135 selected films not only add up to an exciting, wide-ranging, provocative, engaging and entertaining programme, they are a barometer of the importance of documentary film upon the world stage. And after two years of uncertainty, they show, along with the other facets of this fantastic festival, that Sheffield DocFest is back – stronger and more vital than ever.

Explore the Film Programme here.


Alternate Realities

The Alternate Realities exhibition programme showcases innovative non-fiction and immersive documentaries in all forms, breaking the boundaries of traditional documentary practice – including virtual reality, use of artificial intelligence, sculptural installations, sound art and performance art. This year’s Festival will present 29 works at exhibition spaces that are predominately free and open to the public, supported by Arts Council England.

Francesca Panetta, Alternate Realities Curator says “The artists we are featuring this year open new vistas on the way we encounter stories. By using new techniques and new technologies they show that immersive and interactive documentaries can wrap themselves around you, make you part of the story, take you down a rabbit holes, and potentially lead you to a place you never expected. The works we’ve selected are important in topic, but also fun to engage with, and all importantly, bring audiences together digitally and in person to ReConnect.”

Explore the Alternate Realities Programme here.


Talks & Sessions

We will present a series of nine public Talks and 15 Sessions open to industry delegates, as well as the Craft Summit and three live pitch events. 

Beccy Ashdown, Talks & Sessions Senior Producer says “We’re honoured to welcome some of the world’s leading voices in film, immersive media and activism, to discuss their expansive careers and creative work. Our guest speakers are pushing the boundaries of storytelling, with their unique approaches to form and style. Each of our Talks and Sessions will take audiences on a journey of discovery, exploration and reflection. A huge thank you to our guests, sponsors and partners, without whom this would not be possible.”

Explore the Talks & Sessions here.


Industry Programme

Our Industry Programme and Market runs in conjunction with the Festival - the flagship MeetMarket pitching forum, three Live Pitch sessions, the Craft Summit a day of four panels and masterclasses, and a day of talks during the Alternate Realities Summit, as well as the Works In Progress screenings.

Charlotte Reekers, Senior Industry Producer, says “We look forward to welcoming filmmakers from all over the world to meet face-to-face. Broadcasters, streamers, funders, distributors, sales agents, execs and a wide range of helpful professionals and pathfinders who can help get the next set of beautiful, boundary breaking documentaries made and seen.

The Market runs in conjunction with the Festival providing networking opportunities and practical sessions and round tables. The Switchboard provides advice on the people to meet at this year’s market, Snap Chats is the networking mixer, while Who’s Who sessions are where decision makers introduce who they are and what they’re looking for. Other activities include the networking session Producer meet Producers, the Pitch Your Short session with advice given by commissioners from some of the world’s major shorts platforms and funders, and How to Co-produce with the UK a discussion session moderated by UK Global Screen Fund.

Explore the Industry Programme here.


Industry Passes are on sale now, and gives access to the full festival programme of films, exhibitions, talks, panels, industry sessions and live pitches, networking events and parties.

Click here to explore the full schedule of events.


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