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An explosion of creative thinking at the Sheffield Doc/Fest


- Festival director Liz McIntyre presented a round-up of the 23rd edition of the gathering, where Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson won the Grand Jury Award

An explosion of creative thinking at the Sheffield Doc/Fest
Cameraperson by Kirsten Johnson

Displacement and diaspora, migration and homelessness, but also music, dance, extreme sports and the special relationship with dogs were reflected in various documentaries at the 23rd edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest, which presented 160 films from 17 countries. “The rapid change, disruption and colossal upheaval in our world are mirrored in the programme,” states Claire Aguilar, director of programming and industry events. One filmmaker who has been capturing gripping situations all across the world is Kirsten Johnson. For the last 25 years, the American cinematographer has been working with renowned documentary filmmakers such as Michael Moore and Laura Poitras. She then refashioned some of her footage into a kind of kaleidoscope pondering her profession. Her documentary Cameraperson was handed the Grand Jury Award for the film that best displays excellence in its style, substance and approach to documentary filmmaking.

The most stirring moment at the awards show was the appearance of Judith Hetherington, the mother of photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington, who was killed while covering the 2011 Libyan Civil War. “In 2010, he won a prize in Sheffield, and two months later, he got an Academy Award nomination; two months later, he was dead,” reported his mother, who founded the Tim Hetherington Trust to promote the continuation of her son’s vision. He once said: “My main objective is to take audiences to a faraway place that they could never travel to without the help of an intrepid filmmaker. This is the challenge that still excites me.” Sponsored by Dogwoof, the Tim Hetherington Award, worth £1,000, went to the Mexican documentary Tempestad by Tatiana Huezo, who declared: “I dedicate this prize to those mothers who are looking for their missing children.” 

Further highlights at the Sheffield Doc/Fest included a Ken Loach retrospective, featuring the groundbreaking drama-documentary Cathy Come Home, the Environmental Award-winning documentary SEED: The Untold Story by Jon Bert and Taggart Siegel as well as virtual-reality films, such as the innovative hybrid feature Notes on Blindness [+see also:
film review
interview: James Spinney, Peter Middle…
film profile
 by James Spinney and Peter Middleton. Other winners include the Student Doc Award for My Aleppo by Melissa Langer, the Short Doc Award for I'm Not from Here by Maite Alberdi and Giedre Zickyte, and the Audience Award for Alternate Realities Interactive Project, which went to Home – An Immersive Spacewalk Experience by Tom Burton and Kate Bartlett.

“In our industry, a proliferation of new platforms is resulting in an explosion of creative thinking, experimental approaches and a cross-fertilisation of ideas,” sums up festival director Liz McIntyre. “Doc/Fest captures this zeitgeist across our Film, Alternate Realities and Talks & Sessions programmes.”

At the closing ceremony, Tilda Swinton presented The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger [+see also:
film profile
, about the British art critic, which she created in collaboration with fellow co-directors Bartek DziadoszChristopher Roth and Colin MacCabe

Here is the complete list of award winners at the Sheffield Doc/Fest:

Grand Jury Award
Cameraperson - Kirsten Johnson
Special Mention
The Settlers - Shimon Dotan

Environmental Award
SEED: The Untold Story - Jon Betz, Taggart Siegel
Special Mention
Death By Design - Sue Williams

Youth Jury Award
Sonita [+see also:
film review
film profile
- Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Student Doc Award
My Aleppo - Melissa Langer

Short Doc Award
I'm Not from Here - Giedrė Žickytė, Maite Alberdi

Alternate Realities Interactive Award
New Dimensions in Testimony - Heather Maio
Special Mention
Walden, a Game - Tracy Fullerton

Alternate Realities VR Award
Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness [+see also:
film review
interview: James Spinney, Peter Middle…
film profile
- James Spinney, Peter Middleton
Special Mention
Home – An Immersive Spacewalk Experience - Kate Bartlett, Tom Burton

Dr Clifford Shaw Feature Doc Audience Award
Presenting Princess Shaw - Ido Haar

Audience Award for Short Doc
Tarikat - Jasmijn Schrofer

Audience Award for Alternate Realities Interactive Project
New Dimensions in Testimony - Heather Maio

Audience Award for Alternate Realities Interactive Project
Home – An Immersive Spacewalk Experience - Kate Bartlett, Tom Burton

Creative Leadership Award supported by Coaching for Leaders
Sheila Nevins

Tim Hetherington Award supported by Dogwoof
Tempestad - Tatiana Huezo
Special Mention
Hooligan Sparrow - Nanfu Wang

Award for Unsung Hero in Factual TV
Jan Tomalin

Storytelling and Innovation Award
Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness - James Spinney, Peter Middleton

Whicker's World Funding Award
Burma's Lost Royals - Alex Bescoby

Whicker's World Vet Award
Fluechtlinge – Refugee - Keith Earnest Hoult

Whicker's World Audio Award
Little Volcanoes - Catherine Fitzgerald

Let's CEE
Finale Plzen

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