Sheffield Doc/Fest Unveils Lineup for (Mostly) Virtual 2020 Edition

SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SEA TURNS BLUE Still 1 - Berlin International Film Festival - H 2020
Courtesy of Xstream Pictures

Jia Zhang-ke and Lynne Ramsay films are among those taking part in the festival, which has planned a series of online screenings and events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheffield Doc/Fest, one of Europe's biggest documentary events, has announced the lineup for its 2020 edition, which is mostly taking place online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than a hundred films, 115 to be exact, from 50 countries are taking part in the event, including 31 world premieres. 

On June 10, the festival is launching a VOD platform with pay-per-view and subscription options for U.K.-based public audiences, set to screen the program and Q&As with filmmakers. Later in the year, between October and November, organizers hope to screen certain films in Sheffield cinemas. 

In addition, Doc/Fest has partnered with BFI Player, Doc Alliance Films, The Guardian and MUBI who will host its curated programs at various points between July and November.

The festival's industry-oriented Meetmarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market pitching forums and other Marketplace activities are set to take place online from June 8-10.

Filmmakers in the 2020 program include You Were Never Really Here director Lynne Ramsay with her 30-minute short Brigitte (which premiered in Venice Days), Jia Zhang-ke with Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue (which bowed in Berlin) and, in the Rebellions strand, David France's Sundance and Berlinale winner Welcome to Chechnya. 

"This year’s programme brings together various cinematic and narrative forms, landscapes, human existences and ways of expression. It reflects on our contemporary world through its present and its past, and a multitude of sensibilities," said festival director Cíntia Gil, who joined Sheffield Doc/Fest last year. "The crisis we are living now point, and not for the first time, to the systemic failure of institutions and nations, and their need to be equitable in their capacities to give respect to life, freedom and care. It has given us an acute sense of what needs to change and a desire for stronger bonds between us."

She added: "This programme is our contribution to that: it comes from a collective effort to resist hegemonic views over cinema and its relation to the world and to our lives. It represents multiple conversations we want to continue in the near future, through different programmes and forms."