Sheffield Documentary Festival 2023

This year marked 30 years of the Sheffield Documentary Festival and wow it was a great one! It was lovely to be back in the wonderful city of Sheffield and the event proved to be an unforgettable experience as always, offering a blend of thought-provoking documentaries and insightful panel discussions.

Katie enjoyed the talk by David Harewood, a renowned actor and documentary filmmaker known for his captivating storytelling. He talked about his career and openly talked about his experience making ‘Psychosis and Me’ which was edited by Charlie Hawryliw. He discussed the role of documentaries in engaging audiences and driving social change.

In between sampling the different Sheffield cafes, Sophie attended ‘Meet the Commissioners: Broadcasters’ session. They talked about the current climate in the industry. Sophie happily reported back that they explained that 2024/2025 are busy as usual with lots of new commissions (phew)! We also learned that audience’s are still loving True Crime documentaries so that’s still a favourite genre with commissioners.  

One of our top pics was Raw’s ‘The Deepest Breath’ directed by Laura McGann. The heart of the documentary centres around freediving, a practice that involves diving to great depths on a single breath. While it showcases the remarkable achievements of free divers, it also delves into their personal motivations, fears, and the emotional journey they undergo in pursuit of their passion. It’s visually stunning and emotionally gripping, anticipation builds and it has a real lasting impact. We have been talking about it ever since! It will be coming to Netflix soon.

Another favourite was The Gullspång Miracle directed by Maria Fredriksson. A divine premonition leads two sisters to buy an apartment in the small Swedish town of Gullspång. To their surprise, the seller looks identical to their older sister who died by suicide 30 years earlier. There is some comically awkward situations as the director uncovers a bizarre family story.

We also bumped into Ella Newton who always enjoys coming to Sheffield and recommended two of the films that she watched, Otto Baxter: Not a F*cking Horror Story and White Nanny, Black Child.

Attending the Sheffield Documentary Festival is always informative and useful and of course a lot of fun!  We’re already looking forward to next year ☺