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Sheffield Doc/Fest 2008 reveals award winners

Sheffield Doc/Fest has confirmed its place as the premier documentary festivals in the UK. This year’s festival saw a record number of 1,545 film submissions, of which 154 were selected: the largest amount of films screened in the festival’s 15 year history.

A total of 1,300 delegates travelled to the festival from over 23 countries to attend the festival. There was a total of 140 buyers and 250 speakers this year, held together by over 150 staff members and volunteers.

The festival’s successful MeetMarket, which brings together buyers and filmmakers, had 385 submissions - three times as many as last year. The deals made during the week will generate millions of pounds for the industry, and many more filmmakers will get the funding they need to turn their idea into reality.

As well as bringing the documentary community together to celebrate the industry, the festival also recognises particularly successful films with the Audience Award and pitch competitions.

The Audience Award is given to the documentary with the most audience votes for best film. This year’s winner is The Fallen, directed by Morgan Matthews, and the runner up is Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh.

The Fallen is a powerful and poignant film in which the families and friends of servicemen who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq talk openly about their loved ones and their grief. Spanning seven years of war, this film gives a rare insight into the personal impact and legacy of this loss. The documentary is to be broadcast on BBC2, Saturday 15 November at 9:05pm.
Winning Director Morgan Matthews comments: “I’ve been coming to Doc/Fest for years and always look forward to seeing some brilliant and inspiring films. To be included in the programme this year was great, but to win the Audience Award is a complete surprise. I can only put this down to the brave contributions made by the families who participated in The Fallen. It was fitting that the screening took place on Remembrance Sunday and thank you to all who came to see it.”

Doc/Fest’s Film Programmer Hussain Currimbhoy says: “This epic film uses an unusual three-hour long format, which is such a vindication for those who think audiences don’t like longer form documentaries. We are very pleased for the filmmakers in winning such a coveted award”.

During the Channel 4 Pitch, six new Directors pitched to a panel of Television Executives, including Channel 4 Commissioning Editors whom scrutinized the finalists’ CVs and pitching skills. This year’s winner is Susannah Price, who will make a 24 minute film with a £50,000 budget for Channel 4’s documentary new talent strand, First Cut.
The Wallflower Press Award is a new award for Doc/Fest 2008, honouring the best student documentary in the programme. The first prize is awarded to Cyanosis, directed by Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami from Tehran Art University, and a special mention goes to 12 Notes Down directed by Andreas Koefoed from the Danish Film School.

Winner Rokhsareh comments: “Cyanosis is the first documentary I have made with such a low budget. Audiences have applauded my film but I never imagined people in other countries would see my film, or that it would even win an award! There are many artists around the world who do not get the chance to show their work. I’d like to applaud artists who love their work and hope that this award encourages them to keep going.”
The Wellcome Trust and Sheffield Doc/Fest joined forces to bring a new Pitch to this year’s festival: the Wellcome Trust Broadcast Development Awards Pitch, part of Science Saturday. Filmmakers pitched their science idea to win a £10,000 grant. The winners are Kate Vines from Renegade Pictures with Supersurgeons on a Knife’s edge, and Lisa Fairbank from Lambent Productions with Brighton to Lusaka.
The Crossover Pitch finalists first developed their innovative cross-platform ideas with experts in Doc/Fest’s Crossover Lab. They then pitched their projects to digitally-minded Commissioners for a chance to win £5,000 to develop the idea. The winner is Lunchtime Loveboat by Andy Bell from Mint Digital and Jim Sayer from Maverick Television.
Andy Bell responds: "Lunchtime Loveboat combines a dating website and a reality TV show to create something totally new. It is a very exciting concept that could only have come out of the unique collaborative environment which is Crossover Labs. We are delighted to have won the prize. It will help us develop the idea further and give us the time to talk to the commercial partners who will make this idea a reality."
The NFB Cross Media Challenge is presented by The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and Doc/Fest. Finalists submitted ideas for interactive, socially engaging content with applications for mobile and broadband, for a chance to win a £5,000 co-production development deal with the NFB. The 2008 challenge was based around an environmental theme and the winner is Footprints by Mark McKeown from Oil Productions.

The Sheffield International Documentary Festival is the UK’s premier event for international documentary professionals, and showcases some of the finest examples of documentary film from across the globe.

Sheffield Doc/Fest is a film festival, industry conference and market place, offering pitching opportunities, discussion panels and filmmaker masterclasses.

Now in its fifteenth year, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2008 was held between Wednesday November 5 and Sunday November 9. For the third year running Doc/Fest was CO2-free.
The winners of the Grierson:Sheffield Awards were:
Grierson:Sheffield Green Award – The Age of Stupid, Franny Armstrong
Grierson:Sheffield Innovation Award – Seven Sins of England, Joe Bullman
Grierson:Sheffield Youth Jury Award – Order of Myths, Margaret Brown

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