After returning from the US I slept in my own bed for one night and then flew to Manchester the next morning. Had heard so many good things about Sheffield Doc/Fest that it was too tempting to miss it. I was staying with a lovely couchsurfer for the whole time and the festival, which ran from 3 until 7 November 2010, turned out to be great fun. The venues were all in the centre of town, so it was easy to get from event to event, which was important as there was a lot on offer, i.e. it was paradise for dedicated film festival junkies like moi!
It was another one of those festivals with a pretty good deal for the volunteers. I asked to work at as many industry sessions as possible including panel discussions with commissioning editors, independent filmmakers, producers and new media/cross platform specialists. The public interview with Joan Rivers was also a real highlight as it was quite emotional and therefore a nice break from some of the more serious sessions. Luckily I‘d also been scheduled to work at the Kim Longinotto master class, this time with Ollie Huddleston, her editor. The two of them were just brilliant! Even though I‘d heard her speak quite a few times this year, having both of them discuss together how they work was a real treat and motivated me even more than usual. Finding the right person to work with really is key in so many ways.
As the rest of the programme was so incredibly interesting, including some fabulous sessions on community filmmaking, I didn‘t see too many documentaries. The ones I saw were pretty fabulous though. My favourite of the festival was Marwencol. I didn‘t expect too much but it turned out to be absolutely fascinating, especially as the directors did a great Q&A afterwards. All in all a busy week with lots of interesting talks and new contacts – which reminds me that the parties were pretty great too by the way. And Sheffield is well worth a weekend trip in general with a wide range of cultural events happening all year round.