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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Sheffield DocFest picks

Each spring, the world of documentary filmmaking gathers in cultural venues across the city for Sheffield DocFest.

DocFest is the UK’s leading documentary festival and one of the world’s most influential markets for non-fiction projects. It returns for its 31st edition on 12–17 June 2024, inviting audiences to engage in Reflections On Realities.

Over six days, the festival offers space for inspiration, debate, development, learning and challenge. It presents its programme under seven strands: Rhythms, Rebellions, People & Community, Memories, Journeys, Debates and Short Films. Alongside the films is the free Alternate Realities exhibition at Site Gallery, plus talks with special guests.

Scroll down for our top picks from the Sheffield DocFest 2024 programme and book your tickets now.

Written by Rae de Soleil.

MADANIYA

Thu. 13 June 2024 — Fri. 14 June 2024

Mohamed Subahi’s film chronicles Sudan's citizen uprising against 30 years of oppression, spurred by the rallying cry for 'freedom, peace and justice.' Through virtual mobilisation, youth protests topple the president as they pursue a civilian state.

Union

Multiple dates

This documentary captures grassroots activism at Amazon, led by Chris Smalls, who quit over unsafe conditions. Scenes contrast tired workers with Jeff Bezos's rocket launch, setting the stage for the formation of the first Amazon Labor Union.

HAIYU – Rebel Singer Mariem Hassan and the Struggle for a Free Western Sahara

Multiple dates

Showroom

HAIYU delves into the intertwined life of iconic singer Mariem Hassan and the ongoing revolutionary fight against Spanish colonisation and Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara. The film weaves her music, personal journey, and historical context.

This Is Ballroom

Multiple dates

In Rio de Janeiro's vibrant outskirts, Brazil's thriving ballroom houses convene in a sweaty, euphoric and electrifying competition. From queer Brazilian artists Juru and Vitã, this film embodies freedom and transformation for queer people of colour.

My Sextortion Diary

Multiple dates

Pati's laptop is stolen, leading to blackmail and a descent into the world of privacy invasion. With authorities failing to help, she investigates. Patricia Franquesa exposes the prevalence of this injustice and societal neglect in addressing it.

The Battle for Laikipia

Sat. 15 June 2024 — Sun. 16 June 2024

In Kenya's Laikipia County, climate change and historical injustices heighten tensions between Indigenous pastoralists and white ranchers. Filmmakers explore how droughts exacerbate conflicts over dwindling grasslands, rooted in British colonialism.

Harder Than The Rock

Sat. 15 June 2024 — Sun. 16 June 2024

The captivating journey of Cimarons, the pioneering UK band embracing Jamaica's new reggae sound in the 70s. Despite working with legends like Bob Marley, they're yet to be recognised. Battling exploitation and loss, they dream of one last live show.

Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa

Sat. 15 June 2024 — Sun. 16 June 2024

Lhakpa Sherpa, the first Nepalese woman to summit Everest, leaves her life as a single mother in America to climb the mountain again. This film captures her thrilling adventure and abusive marriage, challenging gender imbalances in mountaineering.

LETU: Frankie’s Story

Wed. 12 June 2024 — Mon. 17 June 2024

Site Gallery

Arafa C. Hamadi’s LETU offers an immersive 3D virtual journey into idealised digital spaces for LGBTQIA+ communities in Tanzania. Led by Frankie, viewers explore their memories, from childhood in Arusha to their first authentic expression.

Perinatal Dreaming. Understanding Country

Wed. 12 June 2024 — Mon. 17 June 2024

Site Gallery

Marianne Wobcke’s VR artwork explores perinatal trauma as one of many Indigenous children forcibly separated from their mother at birth. This meditative experience addresses spiritual, emotional and biological aspects of consciousness from the womb.