Sheffield DocFest Arts Programme 2021

© Zara Zandieh, OCTAVIA’S VISIONS, 2021

© Zara Zandieh, OCTAVIA’S VISIONS, 2021



Sheffield DocFest is an international film and arts festival with a mission to spark imaginations and empower our capacity for change by celebrating, championing and debating documentary film and art as a collective form of engagement.


The 2021 Sheffield DocFest Arts Programme includes a range of activities, from exhibitions and talks to events and new commissions. This diverse programme, supported by Arts Council England, is free and open to all and works towards bringing the contemporary arts sector in the UK into dialogue with a wide scope of international artists’ reflections and contexts. Centred around three group exhibitions – Here In This Room and Dialogues: Emily Chao and Al Wong curated by Herb Shellenberger and Right On Time curated by Soukaina Aboulaoula –  this year’s edition will feature the work of over 30 artists from around the world, curated thoughtfully through a process of research, open-call submissions, and many discussions

Highlights include festival commissions In Posse by Charlotte Jarvis (in partnership with Site Gallery) and Alex Tyson’s moving image installation The Registry. The DocFest Arts Programme have also commissioned Right on Time Radio, a temporary web radio station, including performances, discussions, contemporary literature, and sound experimentations. The featured broadcasters are: AWU Radio, Himali Singh Soin, Karim Kattan & Yasmine Benabdallah, Les Bonnes Ondes, Listening to the more-than-human (a collaboration with DocFest Exchange), and Yasmina Reggad. The Arts Programme will also include Daïchi Saïto’s earthearthearth and Georges Lacombe’s 1928 silent city portrait La Zone, projected on 35mm. Sam Smith’s desktop projection work E.1027 will be presented as a live performance. 

Artists in the programme include: Ash Moniz, Anuj Malhotra, Bassam Al-Sabah, Basir Mahmood, David Haxton, Deborah Findlater, Duncan Marquiss, Geraldine Snell, Gian Spina, Hee-soo Kwon, Huniti Goldox (Areej Huniti & Eliza Goldox), Julie Ramage, Lina Laraki, Mohammad Shawky Hassan, Mona Benyamin, Pallavi Paul, Séamus Harahan, Sophie Michael, Tabita Rezaire, The School of Mutants, Wanja Kimani and Zara Zandieh.

Sheffield DocFest Arts Programme is on view in Sheffield and online from 4 - 13 June.
Further information at

Here In This Room :  Perspectives on Domestic Ambience and Surrealism

Here in This Room is a group exhibition at Site Gallery, S1 Artspace and on Sheffield DocFest’s Online Exhibitions Platform. The exhibition focuses on the dual concepts of “domestic ambience” and “domestic surrealism”, considering the ways that artists have depicted or reimagined living spaces, domestic labour/routines, or many different ideas of home. Intended as a productive feedback loop with the extraordinary circumstances that led many of us to be “stuck at home” for many months on end, Here In This Room looks to the ways that artists have seen domestic spaces differently. Whether viewers encounter these works—produced across different years, geographies and perspectives—within the contemplative space a gallery or through our online while in their own domestic space, the aim is for these artists’ work to act as invitations to look at and appreciate space in new, unintended and even fantastical ways. 


Curated by Sheffield DocFest Arts Programme Curator Herb Shellenberger, this exhibition features works across different forms including moving image, installation, mixed media, sound and performance. 


Works from: Anuj Malhotra, Bassam Al-Sabah, Basir Mahmood, Daïchi Saïto, David Haxton, Deborah Findlater, Duncan Marquiss, Geraldine Snell, Hee- soo Kwon, Julie Ramage, Sam Smith, Séamus Harahan, Sophie Michael, Wanja Kimani 


Dialogues: Emily Chao and Al Wong 


Dialogues: Emily Chao and Al Wong can be viewed in person at the Sheffield Hallam University Performance Lab. The first in a yearly series bringing the work of two artists into conversation, this exhibition is a double retrospective aiming to illuminate artists Emily Chao and Al Wong’s practices individually, and even further through this double reflection. A cross-generational pairing of two Asian American artists based in the San Francisco Bay Area, “Dialogues: Emily Chao & Al Wong” will unite their work across this exhibition, an accompanying screening and a Talk where they will meet for the first time.


Since the late 1960s, Al Wong has produced innovative work across the forms of experimental film, performance, installation and photography. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Berkeley Art Museum, SFMOMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 


Emily Chao is a filmmaker and curator whose short-form non-fiction films focusing on identity and diaspora have been made since 2015. She primarily works on 16mm and is a member of the Light Field film collective and Black Hole Collective Film Lab. 


Right on Time

“Memory, like light, wraps itself around all objects in a room. Each object and item is recording the space-time event from its own perspective. In order to reconstruct a space-time event, you would have to get the memory from each object to build up the scene. Like a scavenger hunt.” ― Rasheedah Phillips, Recurrence Plot.

Inspired by this quote from Rasheedah Phillips, curator Soukaina Aboulaoula invites audiences to consider this group exhibition as a scavenger hunt. Visitors will be called to explore different historical and personal experiences/memories. This is not about reconstructing these events or reliving them, but more about creating a collective time-space to explore the layers of our relationship(s) with time and the many ways in which it can be felt.

Featuring works of moving image, performance and sound, Right on Time, is a group exhibition that highlights the voices of artists who do not necessarily adhere to the traditional definition of ‘time’ and ‘temporality’ in their narratives. Their works offer new paths of possibilities, and evoke, both through their subjects and visuals, a structure which merges past, present, future and beyond. Thus, Right on Time unfolds as a collective, open-ended encounter with time(s). 


Works from: Tabita Rezaire, Lina Laraki, Huniti Goldox (Areej Huniti & Eliza Goldox), Mona Benyamin, Pallavi Paul, Zara Zandieh, Ash Moniz, The School of mutants, Mohammad Shawky Hassan, Gian Spina.

The online exhibition Right on Time can be viewed from 4-13 via the Sheffield DocFest Online Exhibitions Platform: 


Arts Programme Commissions 2021

The Registry, a new moving image installation commissioned by Sheffield DocFest, is Alex Tyson’s first narrative work, using fiction as a means to comment on topics salient to the documentary/non-fiction field: the afterlives of images of war and their fictional representation; the potential tokenisation of subjects, stories, and makers by the industry; and the ethical dilemmas arising from the commercialisation of the stock image/footage market. An elliptical, layered psychological horror film, The Registry brings together multiple storylines which intersect in complex ways, circling around a retired war photographer, his twin brother and twin daughters, a documentary filmmaker and two mysterious hard drives. 


Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Alex Tyson has built a practice that spans the myriad forms and expressions of non-fiction filmmaking. His work has been shown at festivals including MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, Film at Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real and Visions du Réel, where his film Mountain Fire Personnel was awarded in 2015. He is also an in-demand cinematographer who has contributed to Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning documentaries distributed by HBO, National Geographic, Discovery and Netflix.


Alex Tyson’s The Registry will world premiere at Sheffield DocFest 2021 at S1 Artspace in Sheffield, curated by Herb Shellenberger. The work will also be viewable online through the duration of the festival on the Sheffield DocFest Arts Programme’s Online Exhibitions Platform. 



Curated by Soukaina Aboulaoula, Right on Time Radio is a temporary web radio station, which will air daily in Sheffield DocFest’s online exhibitions platform during the festival days. 


Carried by the voices of sound artists, curators, researchers and radio & podcast collectives. This radio features new works commissioned by Sheffield DocFest, including sound performance, discussions, contemporary literature, reflections and sound experimentations.


Throughout the waves of this radio, the contributors have a carte blanche to share a glimpse of their practices, and some of the questions they raise in their work and research. Thus, not only inviting us to reflect further on some of the questions outlined in Right on Time exhibition, but also offering the opportunity to shift from the visual dimensions of the exhibition into a space of collective listening.  


Right on Time Radio aims to initiate conversations, and to establish a platform of companionship which offers an alternative way of being and spending time ‘together’.  


Contributors to Right on Time Radio include AWU Radio, Himali Singh Soin, Karim Kattan & Yasmine Benabdallah, Les Bonnes Ondes ft. Layal Rhanem, Listening to the more-than-human (a collaboration with DocFest Exchange), Micro Radio and Yasmina Reggad. The radio station features new works commissioned by Sheffield DocFest, including sound performance, discussions, contemporary literature, reflections and sound experimentations. 


To be unveiled at the 28th edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest, a new multi-media installation with commissioned artist and lecturer Charlotte Jarvis – presented in partnership with Site Gallery, Sheffield. The commission, entitled In Posse, documents a quest to make the world's first 'female' semen.

Artist Charlotte Jarvis’ practice lies at the intersection of art and science, often utilising living cells and DNA, and manifesting into large-scale multimedia installations and performances. Jarvis has been a resident artist at a number of institutions, including the European Bioinformatics Institute, the British Council in Argentina and the Hubrecht Institute, prior to being commissioned by Sheffield Doc/Fest and Site Gallery. She has been published in the peer-reviewed Leonardo Journal,USA, and is currently a lecturer at The Royal College of Art, London.

In Posse aims to rewrite the cultural narrative around semen as a revered magical substance - a totem of literal and symbolic potency; to use art and science to disrupt the patriarchy.


Arts Programme Events


2021 Arts Programme Launch

Fri 4 June 16:30

Online Exhibitions Platform


Between Reminiscence and Reactivation: a collective reflection (Talk)

Sat 5 June 16:00

Sheffield DocFest Website


Emily Chao and Al Wong in conversation (Talk)
Sat 5 June 18:00

Sheffield DocFest Website


Notes From the Field: working strategies for non-fiction artists (Talk)
Sun 6 June 13:00

Sheffield DocFest Website


Tabita Rezaire: Mamelle Ancestrales (collective screening)

Wed 9 June 20:00

Online Exhibitions Platform


Pallavi Paul: The Blind Rabbit (live discussion + Q&A)

Fri 11 June 15:30

Online Exhibitions Platform


Daïchi Saïto: earthearthearth (35mm screening)

Fri 11 June 22:00, Abbeydale Picture House

Sat 12 June 11:00, Abbeydale Picture House
Sat 12 June 20:00, Showroom Cinema 1


Emily Chao & Al Wong: Films in Dialogue (16mm screening)

Sat 12 June 14:30 
Halo Showroom Cinema 3


Geraldine Snell: light love (live performance)

Sat 12 June 16:00

Sheffield DocFest Instagram Live


How to Perform (in) a Crisis: Geraldine Snell & Mohamed Abdelkarim (talk)

Sat 12 June 17:00

Sheffield DocFest Website


La Zone (35mm screening)

Sun 13 June 12:30  

Abbeydale Picture House


Sam Smith: E.1207 (live performance)

Sun 13 June 15:00  

Sheffield Hallam University Performance Lab


Charlotte Jarvis: In Posse (screening)

Sun 13 June 17:30 
Halo Showroom Cinema 3




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