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What are the top 5 picks for Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017?

Friday 09 June 2017

Reading time: 5 minutes

Attending any film festival needs careful planning. Here is what I am making sure I catch during this year’s Doc/Fest.

1. Risk by Laura Poritras

My big movie is Laura Poitras’ Risk. After winning an Academy Award for her previous film, Citizenfour, an account of how Edward Snowden released a huge number of National Security Agency files via WikiLeaks in 2013, Poitras stays in the arena of revealing secrets with this portrait of Julian Assange.

Is Assange a liberator of the truth or just in it for himself? Such questions now surround the Australian hacker and one-time champion of the internet’s ability to expose the workings of modern society. As with Citizenfour, Poitras is not just an observer but part of the story.

2. The Force by Peter Nicks

With the tensions gripping black Americans and the forces that police them, Peter Nicks’ The Force is a study of how the Oakland Police Department have attempted to rebuild their links with the community they are supposed to serve and protect. The film won Best Documentary at Sundance this year.

3. City of Ghosts by Matt Heineman

Matt Heineman’s City of Ghosts provides a rare chance to see how ISIS works. The film documents the dangerous and courageous efforts of citizens in Raqqa to show everyday life under the rule of The Caliphate. Footage from phones, tablets and laptops is collected to provide a visceral image of life under fundamentalist oppression.

4. Far from Vietnam by Chris Marker

This rare opportunity to see Far From Vietnam should not be missed. A groundbreaking portmanteau film made in 1967 about life in North Vietnam at the height of the conflict with the USA. The documentary consists of contributions from the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda and Alain Resnais – all brought together by cinema’s most elusive and enigmatic genius, Chris Marker.

5. Jo Cox: Death of an MP by Toby Paton

The festival’s closing film, Jo Cox: Death of an MP will be both a commemoration of the murdered MP’s life and a salutary reminder that terrorism comes in a variety of forms and is perpetrated by a range of extremists of differing colours, creeds and political beliefs.

No feel-good movies in my choices, but these are unhappy times and perhaps we should all be eschewing light relief and at least attempting to find some truth. There will be no better opportunity to do so than the six days of the festival.

Martin will be tweeting about Doc/Fest 2017: @MartinJohnCart2

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