We’re back from sunny Sheffield and we’re happy to report we had a thoroughly productive experience! Sheffield Doc/Fest is a wonderful opportunity for filmmakers: it’s a chance to see both the art and business of filmmaking, and we learned a lot from our time there.
As you can see from the photos, the weather was definitely on our side when we arrived on the 5th of June. The sun was shining and we were feeling suitably upbeat as we went into the festival. There were plenty of people showing off their wares and some big names milling around: we got the chance to speak briefly to Joshua Oppenheimer, too, best known for his documentaries The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. The latter had a screening at the event, and his masterclass afterwards gave us a lot to think about in regards to our role as documentary-makers.
There were plenty of other sessions to attend while we were there: we made a beeline for the panel discussion on censorship in filmmaking, chaired by Nick Fraser (Editor for BBC’s Storyville), and the debate on differences between journalism and documentary, chaired by Liz Mermin (Director – Visual, Thomson Reuters Foundation). It was a great chance to connect with the speakers: besides Nick Fraser and Liz Mermin, we got to chat with the lovely Camilla Nielssen (see her wonderful film Democrats if you can) and Henry Singer. The main points we took away were that a good documentary has to have good journalism at its foundation, and it should tell a story: it is the vision and craft of visual storytelling that lifts the documentary genre into the realm of art. Importantly, the documentary should offer insight: it should, in Camila Nielssen’s words, enable us “to understand how we understand the way we see things”.
Another session we attended discussed how faith is explored in the world today. It’s a hot topic: religious societies and the faiths they seek to protect remain a huge part of the modern world. Within documentaries there seems to be a move towards exploring the ‘inner world:’ the way people explore and wrestle with faith in deeply personal, intimate ways. With Zakii, both of these ideas – of community and identity, which might sometimes butt heads- are regularly engaged with, and something we’ve worked to capture in the film.
Of course, we weren’t just there to see what everyone else was doing. We set out to get people talking about our film, and we’re pleased to report a lot of people from all parts the industry showed an interest. We won’t say much more, but we’re confident Edge of Obedience is a film people will be taking to heart.
In short, Sheffield Doc/Fest was an event we’re very happy to have attended. We got to see some fantastic films, speak to some thoroughly intelligent people and get some of them talking about Edge of Obedience into the bargain. With some more filming to look forward to soon, the project is heading ever closer to completion. Don’t forget to subscribe for updates on the homepage!