Tag Archives: Doc/Fest


It’s just a few weeks till Sheffield Doc/Fest and so we’re celebrating all things documentary! We have a huge variety of documentaries available on the Booking Scheme, whether its amazing true stories, riveting exposes or triumphant tales of human endeavour documentaries offer an essential look at the human experience and a valuable addition to any community cinema programme.

Don’t forget! Cinema For All members are eligible for a discount on the Doc Lovers pass – just £40 for access to all the documentary screenings at Doc/Fest. Find out more here.

Here’s a quick look at some highlights of our catalogue but you can find many more here.

The Possibilities are Endless –  Using a uniquely cinematic technique this film about the slow recovery of Edwyn Collins, the Scottish singer who suffered a massive stroke, is an immersive, startling and beautiful piece of work. The first half of the film depicts Edwyn’s faltering progress – the images and sounds are otherworldly, broken and confusing. But as the film goes on things become clearer, more purposeful; Edwyn’s recovery allows him to start playing music again and works his way up to gigging again.

Benda Bilili! – An audience favourite and one of the most exciting and uplifting documentaries in recent memory. Telling the story of the meteoric rise of Staff Benda Bilili – a band made up of impoverished paraplegics who ride custom wheelchairs and a teenager – who became a global sensation. Filmed over 5 years the filmmakers themselves become personally involved in supporting the band as they prepare for their first international gigs. A tremendously inspiring film.

20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom – The Oscar winner in 2014, 20 Feet From Stardom tells the story of the back-up singers and performers, who while crucial to many an artist’s show, are always in the background, rarely championed or properly appreciated. Who are these performers and what are their lives really like?

A Man Vanishes – A groundbreaking, genre breaking mystery – Shohei Imamura’s landmark documentary starts out as a investigation into why so many Japanese men disappear without trace. The filmmakers are soon derailed when they meet Yoshi who implores them to help her track down her fiancee, Tadashi, who disappeared two years ago. While Yoshi’s motivations become increasingly suspect, Imamura throws things further off kilter by focusing on the act of filmmaking itself, causing the viewer to question how much of what they are seeing is real, and what is constructed.

The Moo Man

The Moo Man – Superbly charming, lo-fo, and eye-opening, The Moo Man follows Stephen Hook, an organic raw milk father. Hook is passionate about traditional farming methods and delivering healthy product but he struggles against the economic pressures of subsisdised mass produced milk. Hook’s determination and principles are inspiring but the film’s true triumph is in showing us the remarkable relationship between Stephen and his herd – particularly Ida, his favourite heffer.

The Missing Picture – This Oscar nominated documentary explores the director’s experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge. Mixing archive footage with hand-made clay figures to recreate scenes never filmed or where footage has since been lost, this is a deeply personal and affecting portrait of life under dictatorship.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop – The infamous and elusive Banksy turns documentary on its head in this twisty, unusual tale that leaves the viewer baffled, suspicious but undeniably entertained. A french amateur graffiti artist Thierry Guetta- inept and rather uninspiring, is determined to meet his idol: Banksy. He sets out with camera in tow to do just that, but when he finds him Banksy turns the camera on Guetta instead. Eventually Guetta becomes a celebrated artist of his: Mr Brainwash, but the possibility that Guetta’s career is in fact a project of Banksy’s is unshakable. As Mr Brainwash’s star rises, so to does the impression that he is a fraud, a non-artist who has only got where he because of Banksy’s manipulation.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden – A thrilling stranger than fiction story of an island paradise that ended in murder, deceit and disappearances. Dr Ritter and his lover Dore Strauch arrived on an uninhabited island in the Galapagos in the 1930s; their desire, to escape civilised life. At first their lives were satisfied but their solitude was interrupted by the arrival of new islanders. The irony for the doctor and Dore is that it was their own writings, sold to newspapers around the world, that attracted the visitors who were to destroy the utopia. The first arrivals were the Wittmers, a stoic but civil family who lived in uneasy truce with the Ritters. But it was the arrival of the self-declared “Baroness”, a larger than life femme-fatale that would lead to the astonishing and disastrous fate of the island.


Meanwhile  there’s plenty of great documentaries to look forward to at Doc/Fest including Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, a follow-up to The Act of Killing; Orion,: The Man Who Would Be King, a British doc about Jimmy Ellis, a man with the voice of Elvis who found fame once he hid behind an alter ego: Orion; and The Russian Woodpecker a blend of Soviet history, the Chernobyl disaster an eccentric artist and a terrifying, yet plausible conspiracy theory.


Documentaries on the BFFS Booking Scheme

After the brilliant Doc/Fest hit Sheffield last week we’ve been thinking about documentaries, so here’s a brief look at a few of  the 150+ documentaries on offer via the BFFS Booking Scheme.

Shut Up and Play the Hits

LCD soundsystem

The carefully orchestrated end to a hugely influential band – Shut Up And Play The Hits details the build up to, and aftermath of, LCD Soundsystem’s final ever gig. An epic 4 hour gig at Madison square Garden saw LCD Soundsystem hold ‘the best funeral ever’. The doc presents an intimate portrait of frontman James Murphy, who’s honest and unflinching interview with Chuck Klosterman, as well as the footage of him the day after the gig, contrasts with the incredible concert footage. Watch the trailer

Way of the Morris

Way of the Morris

Filmmaker Tim Plester embarks on a journey from his childhood village to the battlefields of World War I as he explores the connection between the morris dancers of Adderbury and the history of his community. A film about the importance of tradition and spirit in rural communities Way of the Morris is a moving and, thanks to Plester’s self-mocking persona, amusing look at the oft-maligned art of morris dancing. Watch the trailer

The First Movie

The First Movie

In 2008 Mark Cousins’ travelled to Goptapa in Northern Iraq, a town that was devastated during Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds. But Cousins did not go to simply make a film about what happened, but to allow the children of the town to make their own films. First he introduced them to cinema – none of the children had seen a film before – and then gave them camera to make their own films. The results are magnificent, heart-breaking and insightful; and Cousins’ documentary is testament to the power of film.

Bobby Fischer Against the World


The remarkable story of Bobby Fischer, arguably the greatest chess player ever, who not only became the youngest grandmaster in history, but also won what was described as the “Match of the Century” against the Russian Boris Spassky. The match in 1972 played out against the backdrop of Cold-War tensions and made Fischer world-famous. His victory brought him huge fame across America, but he almost immediately disappeared from competitive chess and his behaviour became more erratic.  By the 1990s he was wanted by the US Government for breaking an embargo, and he was held in Japan before escaping to Iceland. Combining interviews with rare archival footage, Liz Garbus’s documentary is a fascinating and engrossing look at a troubled genius. Watch the trailer



Likely to put off those who don’t appreciate its eccentric sense of humour, Swandown is a bizarre and seemingly pointless film that I nevertheless find to be uniquely entertaining. A travelogue of sorts, filmmaker Andrew Kötting and writer Iain Sinclair steal a swan-shaped pedalo from Hastings and pedal it up the River Thames to Hackney; partly as an act of protest but mostly to demonstrate the idiocy of pedalling a pedalo 160 miles up a river. Along the way they ruminate on the English countryside and are shouted at by passers-by. Bemusing, diverting and strangely thought-provoking Swandown is (probably fortunately) one of a kind. Trailer

And if you were around at the festival here’s a few films that are on the Booking Scheme/coming soon:

We Are Poets – Profiling the teenagers that make up Leeds Young Authors, and their entry into Brave New Voices, a prestigious poetry slam competition held in Washington, DC, We Are Poets demonstrates the power of the spoken word. (Available now)

The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer confronts former members of Indonesia’s death squads. Unrepentant of their crimes, Oppenheimer encourages them to stage bizarre and chilling re-enactments of their murders. In doing so they begin to realise the horror of their actions. Winner of the Special Jury Award at Doc/Fest. (Available later this year)

Blackfish – In 2010, Tilikum, the killer whale who has become Seaworld’s biggest attraction, killed one of its trainers. Though there are no reported incidents of orcas attacking humans in the wild, this is not the first time Seaworld’s killer whales have injured trainers. Blackfish looks at the damage done to animals held in captivity and argues for a drastic reform to such practices.  (Available later this year)

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