Announcing our full Public Programme for Sheffield DocFest 2024

Sheffield DocFest 2024, 12 - 17 June

We are incredibly proud to reveal our full Film programme, Alternate Realities exhibitions, and public Talks for the 31st edition of Sheffield DocFest. 

DocFest firmly believes in the transformative power of documentaries to spark curiosity, engage audiences, and foster meaningful discussions and with this year’s theme ‘Reflections on Reality’ the festival welcomes audiences and industry guests to engage in conversation - in Sheffield, 12-17 June 2024.  

Come and explore the programme

Highlights include...

  • 48 World Premieres, 14 International Premieres, 17 European Premieres, and 29 UK Premieres from 56 countries of production
  • A collaborative offering which, in addition to films, includes a programme of interconnected live conversationslive podcast events, premieres of TV seriesVR cinema and immersive exhibition co-curated with the International Documentary Association (IDA)
  • The International Competition consists of eight World premieres including Tilda Swinton’s feature directorial debut alongside filmmaker Bartek Dziadosz The Hexagonal Hive and a Mouse in a Maze and the latest film from Croatian director Goran Devic, Pavilion 6
  • Stand-out music documentaries including the World premiere of blur: To the End, the European premiere of Mogwai: If the Stars Had a Sound, and the UK premiere of Chris Smith’s DEVO
  • Alternate Realities exhibition includes Nocturnal Fugue, a multi-sensorial installation that emulates the communicative complexity of bats by renowned artists Jiabao Li and Matt McCorkle. Alongside The Finger Rub Rug by Laura A Dima, a carpet of 1,300 lifelike silicone fingers, each a replica of cast from the artist’s partner.
  • Broadcaster talks include  BBC Interview with Simon Reeve; and the already announced Channel 4 interview with Anna Hall.
  • Compelling public talks from Chris van TullekenIdris Elba and Walter Murch.


As previously announcedSheffield DocFest opens on 12 June 2024 with the World premiere of Kevin Macdonald’s Klitschko: More than a Fight, screening in International Competition, about 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.

Annabel Grundy, Sheffield DocFest Managing Director, says: “In planning this year's edition of DocFest, we have reflected about where we can make a difference, how our programming can counteract false narratives and over simplification, and how we can support our ecosystem at a time when independent journalism, co-authored narratives and deeply reflective works are critical in helping us make sense of the world. I am deeply proud of the team who have created a careful, compassionate and balanced programme always with the filmmakers in mind.”

Diana Buckley, Director of Director of Economy, Skills and Culture at Sheffield City Council, adds: “Sheffield DocFest is a key event in our city's cultural calendar and one that proudly puts Sheffield on the world stage. This year's exciting programme of world premieres, artworks and special guests is fantastic to see - from stories of Ukraine to brilliant music documentaries and talks with incredible international guests. We are proud to support this globally renowned event, right here in Sheffield.”


Film Programme

Sheffield DocFest 2024 film programme totals 109 films (80 features and 29 shorts), drawn from over  2700 entries, including 48 World Premieres, 14 International Premieres, 17 European Premieres, 29 UK Premieres from 56 countries of production. 

Titles screen in three competition sections - International Competition, International First Feature Competition and International Short Film Competition. In addition to previously announced Days of Reflection  and Guest of Honour Programme, the festival once again presents its Podcast Stories strand and  previews of television series episodes in its First Impressions strandFurther out of competition films screen in six strand sections: Rhythms, Debates, People & Community, Memories, Rebellions and Journeys.

Raul Niño Zambrano, Sheffield DocFest Creative Director, says“Curating a programme is a collaborative effort, and I am incredibly grateful for the dedication and commitment of our international advisers, consultants, and staff who have invested their time in assessing all the films, artworks, and talks. The selection we have made together serves as an invitation for reflection, dialogue and empathy, and we can’t wait to share all these stories with our international audience.”


Films in Competition & Awards

The line-up for this years’ International Competition comprises eight films, up for the Grand Jury Award for the International Competition, eight films in International First Feature Competition supported by Netflix, and  nine  films in International Short Film Competition; five documentaries will be considered for the Tim Hetherington Award,  presented in association with Dogwoof; six  films will be considered by the Youth Jury, and the International Virtual Reality Competition will honour the best virtual reality non-fiction work. Winners will be revealed during an awards ceremony at Crucible Playhouse on 16 June.


Podcast Stories 

We are proud to support and celebrate all mediums of documentary and this year the programme again includes presentations of two live podcast events, welcoming creators for an in-person exploration of essential non fiction audio narratives.

Podcast Live: The Last Witness with Michael Sheen - During this live event actor Michael Sheen and Buried hosts Dan Ashby and Lucy Taylor will offer the audience the opportunity to listen and discuss their upcoming series and findings, moderated by BBC Radio 4 commissioner Dan Clarke.

Podcast Live: Time, Paper, Bone - Join the creators at this podcast live event, as they play the first episode of their forthcoming series. Their journey traces the story of one woman’s decades-long search for the remains of her father, a South African anti-apartheid activist arrested in 1963 and never seen again, with producers Catherine Boulle and Bongani Kona.


TV Series Premieres - First Impressions

We are thrilled to host three exclusive (World premiere) previews of the first episodes for new documentary series . All events will include a conversation with the creators and special guests. 

Four Kings - a riveting series focusing on the careers of four leading Black British boxers (heavyweights Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis, and middleweights Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn), the rivalry that existed between them and the challenges they faced. An interview with Bruno and executive producers Rick Murray of Workerbee will follow this screening.

Cult Massacre: One Day In Jonestown - a comprehensive and thoroughly researched examination of the largest mass murder-suicide in American history and a portrait of the cult whose leader, Jim Jones, precipitated it. Two episodes of this Nat Geo series will screen, followed by an interview with its director Marian Mohamed.

In My Own Words: Hanif Kureishi - with wit, intelligence and honesty, the acclaimed playwright, novelist and filmmaker looks back on his work, the culture it emerged from and recent events that radically changed his life. A frank and intimate documentary portrait directed by Nigel Williams is followed by a live online interview with Kureishi and Williams.


Alternate Realities Programme

The Alternate Realities exhibition programme at Sheffield DocFest showcases innovative non-fiction and immersive documentaries in all forms, breaking the boundaries of traditional documentary practice and using cutting edge technology – including virtual reality, use of artificial intelligence, video gaming platforms, augmented reality, and interactive web documentaries. 

This year’s programme will present five immersive works at Site Gallery and is co-curated with the International Documentary Association (IDA), an international collaboration supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The Alternate Realities Exhibition is curated by Sheffield DocFest Creative Director Raul Niño Zambrano alongside the IDA’s Keisha Knight, Director of Funds, and Abby Sun, Director of Artist Programmes, supported by Alternate Realities Programme Producer Jack Rutherford.

Find out more here.

Co-curators Abby Sun & Keisha Knight of International Documentary Association said: We are thrilled to present the Alternate Realities exhibition, with a new participatory and immersive gallery layout. These five incredible works remind us that in documentary, the relationship between reality and new technologies is neither new nor confined to a single headset—and that the most innovative, thought-provoking, and artful work is playful and critical, extending past the merely human while simultaneously diving into the most pressing questions of what it means to be human." 

The exhibition includes Nocturnal Fugue, a multi-sensorial installation that emulates the communicative complexity of bats by renowned artists Jiabao Li and Matt McCorkle. Alongside The Finger Rub Rug by Laura A Dima, a carpet of 1,300 lifelike silicone fingers, each a replica of cast from the artist’s partner. Sister Sylvester & Deniz Tortum’s Shadowtime, a piece encased in a specially-built camera obscura, that questions our very desire to escape into virtual, enclosed worlds that only seem divorced from our physical, ecological one. And Remember This Place: 31°20’46’’N 34°46’46’’E a moving collection of virtual stories from Bedouin women remembering the homes they have been forcibly removed from and the culture they are fighting to preserve.



We will present eight public talks which will all be held at the Crucible Theatre.

Vanessa Lobón Garcia Talks & Sessions Senior Producer says, “Our 2024 Talks encompass and celebrate exciting new voices alongside industry ‘legends’, impact and activism alongside sporting heroes and those striving for social change now and as we revisit our shared histories. We extend immense gratitude to our guests, sponsors, and partners whose support helps us to bring these unique speakers, subjects and talents to Sheffield.”   

Broadcaster supported talks are BBC Interview with Simon Reeve the author, journalist, explorer and presenter whose career has taken him around the world and through various danger zones, and the previously announced Channel 4 interview with Leeds based award-winning filmmaker and creative director of Candour Productions Anna Hall who will discuss her wide ranging career as a filmmaker and producer from Edge of the CityCatching a Killer to The Push.

Doctor, scientist and broadcaster Chris van Tulleken will be discussing his genre breaking approach to making science and medicine accessible while producing real world change; Stand-out events include: a talk with the filmmakers and contributors to Channel 4’s landmark series Defiance: Fighting the Battle for British History about the hidden history of South Asian anti-racist activists in 1970s and 80s Britain; narrator Idris Elba and the creative team of Erased: WW2’s Heroes of Colour  explore a case study into the developing and production of the new Nat Geo series.

The award-winning film and sound editor Walter Murch joins the festival in a masterclass interview discussing the art of cutting film and the extraordinary body of films he has worked on.


Roger Ross Williams

Guest of Honour Roger Ross Williams, the critically acclaimed and award-winning director, producer, and writer –and the first African American director to win an Academy Award® will attend the festival and present a selection of new documentary films from emerging filmmakers – see previous announcement here.

Williams will participate in two special talks: Social Impact Documentaries - an in-depth talk in which Williams will engage with the directors and producers of program titles SugarcaneThe Battles for LaikipiaUnionDaughters and Stone Mountain (full programme listings below); and an In Conversation in which Williams will discuss his career from his emergence as a filmmaker to his award-winning success and increasing breadths of subjects that span topics such as the black American experience, living with disabilities and the cultural ramifications of Western religion in Africa. 

The 2024 Guest of Honour programme is supported by Netflix.



Film + Conversations

Over at the Crucible Theatre, the festival will present fourteen film screenings followed by extended conversations with special guests and performances.

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the battle of Orgreave, Strike: an Uncivil War (World premiere) directed by Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough) will be followed by a discussion revisiting events portrayed in this essential account of  one of the darkest days in recent British history. Ex-miners will be present at the events depicted in this powerful documentary, alongside director Daniel Gordon, journalist Morag Livingstone and musician Jon Mclure (Reverend and the Makers).

Musician Hak Baker, the subject of James Topley and Ivo Becket's film of Hakeem (World premiere), an unmissable look at his life as an East London independent musician whose fate turned when he won a guitar in a prison raffle, will perform on stage after the film, and will discuss the documentary portrait with its directors.

The acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, novelist and director Hanif Kureishi will join for a live and remote conversation with director Nigel Williams following the screening of In My Own Words: Hanif Kureish (World premiere), a portrait of him and his career in both the arts and public sphere.


Sheffield DocFest 2024 runs from Wednesday 12 - Monday 17 June. Public tickets and Industry Passes are on sale now.

The full Industry Programme will be announced on 15 May 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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