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Sheffield International Documentary Festival On Tour

The Sheffield International Documentary Festival is delighted to announce the launch of its UK Tour at the NATIONAL FILM THEATRE from the 2nd – 5th February 2006. Returning for the seventh year, it features the ‘best of the fest’ from the Festival which took place in October 2005. The four day event marks the beginning of a three month UK tour visiting numerous towns and cities including Belfast, Bradford, Bristol, Brixton, Chichester, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hammersmith, Hereford, Leeds, Manchester, Middlesborough, Northampton, Nottingham & Stirling.

Highlights from the tour include: Avi Mograbi’s Avenge But One of My Two Eyes, a provocative documentary on present-day Israel and the occupation of the Palestinian territories which screened to critical acclaim at Cannes in 2005 and Pirjo Honkasalo’s The 3 Rooms of Melancholia, a mesmerising portrait of war through the eyes of children, which took the festival audiences of Edinburgh, Sundance and Venice by storm. From the UK, Oona and Me is a telling insider look at one of the highest-profile contest of the 2005 General Election by Oona’s childhood friend Nora Meyer.

As part of the launch we will also be holding a special event to mark the 50th Anniversary of FREE CINEMA. In February 1956 a group of young film-makers launched their Manifesto at the NFT, they named the programme Free Cinema and took their cameras out onto the streets, capturing a new naturalistic and unscripted look at England. It made such an impact that 400 filmgoers were turned away from the first screening. Almost 50 years since that day, a selection of those films will be shown once more at the NFT. The selected films are:

O Dreamland (dir. Lindsay Anderson), Momma Don't Allow (dir. Karel Reisz/Tony Richardson), Nice Time (dir. Alain Tanner/Claude Goretta), Enginemen (Mike Grigsby) and Food for a Blush (dir. Elizabeth Russell).

From Swedish Armrestlers to NeoHillbillies via a Californian sperm bank, the weekend promises to deliver a diverse selection of acclaimed documentaries from some of the most prominent filmmakers working today.

Full Listings of NFT Screenings:

The 3 Rooms Of Melancholia (Melancholian Kolme Huonetta)
Sun 5 Feb 8.40 NFT2

This mesmerising portrait of war takes viewers deep inside the Chechnyan conflict. In a Russian military school life is regimented and bleak as the boys are trained to fight in Russia’s ethnic conflicts; amongst the rubble of Grozny, abandoned children are looked after by a good Samaritan; while the final chapter moves to a traumatised orphanage. The cumulative impact of the images, with a haunting score and stunningly beautiful cinematography, make this a truly gripping cinematic experience.

Finland 2004 Dir Pirjo Honkasalo 106mins.

The Armwrestler From Solitude (Armbryterskan från Ensamheten)

Sat 4 Feb 8.40 NFT2

The 16 residents of the tiny Swedish village called Solitude have a shared passion: armwrestling. And it's not just a minor past-time – slight, pretty 22 year old Heidi Andersson has been the world champion three times. This stylish, intriguing film is a memorable glimpse of life in Northern Sweden through the eyes of Heidi, an unlikely celebrity who still enjoys wrestling with her cousins and attending local dances as much as her life as an international sportswoman.

Sweden 2004 Dir Helen Ahlsson, Lisa Munthe 78mins

Things (Vĕci) (short)

(Shown with The Armwrestler from Solitude)

Two elegant ladies shed light on the human dilemma between collecting and getting rid of clutter. A light, witty film that leaves the director torn and tempted in two directions.

Czech Republic 2004 Dir Marta Hrubá 18mins.

Avenge But One Of My Two Eyes (Nekam Achat Mishtey Eynay)

Thu 2 Feb 8.40 NFT2

In the opening scene, young Jewish tourists learn from their guide leaders the myths of Samson and Massada and the message that death is preferable to submission. Meanwhile the second Intifada rages and Palestinians are constantly humiliated by the Israeli army – farmers are prevented from ploughing their fields, school children are stranded at checkpoints for hours. Exhausted, these people voice their anger and despair – just as the Hebrews did with the Romans or Samson with the Philistines.

France-Israel 2005 Dir Avi Mograbi 100mins.

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room

Fri 3 Feb 8.40 NFT2

Since their fall from grace, Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling have refused to speak to the media. But the company archives contain a number of revealing phone conversations and video tapes. With expert commentary, from among others whistle-blower Sherron Watkins, director Alex Gibney explains how Enron’s defrauding of investors, employees and the entire state of California was not so much the product of a few bad apples as the ultimate result of a deregulated free-market system.

USA 2004 Dir Alex Gibney 109mins

Frozen Angels

Fri 3 Feb 6.20 NFT2

Los Angeles is the world’s capital of reproductive technology. Here the free market rules and, as radio DJ Bill Handel, who also runs the world’s largest sperm bank, says, ‘It’s easier to open a sperm-bank than a pizzeria.’ Frozen Angels follows the personal stories and perspectives of college students donating eggs, the surrogate mums and expecting parents, challenging everyone’s moral code along the way. With blonde blue-eyed Californian designer babies de rigeur, are we heading towards genetic imperialism?

Finland-France-Germany-USA 2005 Dir Eric Black, Frauke Sandig 93mins

Homemade Hillbilly Jam

Thu 2 Feb 6.20 NFT2

The brothers and cousins who make up the band Big Smith are proud to consider themselves Hillbillies. They combine traditional roots of Scots-Irish jigs, church music and folk songs handed down over generations, with more modern elements of country and western and a sensibility they describe as ‘neo-hillbilly’. Minnich’s beautifully shot film celebrates Missouri’s Ozark countryside and the way music can transcend conflicting attitudes, to bring and hold generations together.

Germany 2005 Dir Rick Minnich 80mins

The Immortal (El Inmortal)

Sat 4 Feb 6.20 NFT2

The Nicaraguan war between the Sandinista government and the US-backed Contras tore the Rivera family apart. In 1983, three of the teenage siblings were press-ganged into the Contra army, the fourth wound up fighting for the Sandinistas. Today twins Juan and José, who fought on opposite sides, cannot regain the special closeness they once shared. The impact of war continues even after the country has returned to ‘normal’. A moving account of the strength of family bonds and how civil war literally pits brother against brother.

Mexico-Spain 2005 Dir Mercedes Moncada Rodríguez 80mins

Oona & Me

Sat 4 Feb 4.00 NFT2

Oona King entered Parliament in 1997, one of the most media-friendly of the original ‘Blair Babes’. But voting for the Iraq War alienated her from much of her constituency and prompted a challenge from former Labour party rebel George Galloway and his Respect party. King allowed her childhood friend Nora Meyer to film the highest-profile contest of the general election at close range. A telling insider look at local politics at its sharpest edge.

UK 2005 Dir Nora Meyer 72mins

Last Men Standing (short)

(Shown with Oona & Me)

Ten years after the mass pit closure of 1984, the miners of the Welsh Tower Colliery pooled their severance pay and bought their own pit to secure the future of their community. But what about the children and grandchildren of the ‘last men standing’? Winner of the Jerwood First Cuts Documentary Award selected at the 2005 Sheffield International Documentary Festival

UK 2005 Dir Sasha Maja Djurkovic 17 mins.

Pucker Up: The Fine Art Of Whistling

Sat 4 Feb 2.00 NFT2

What could a turkey hauler, an investment banker and a Dutch social worker possibly have in common? They’re all seriously into the art of whistling – and headed for Louisburg, North Carolina, for the 31st International Whistling Competition. In this entertaining documentary, the fine art of whistling and its dark side – it’s illegal in several US states – is explored as well as its golden era, when people had plenty of time to whistle a happy tune.

USA 2005 Dir Kate Davis, David Heilbroner 80mins


Sun 5 Feb 4.00 NFT2

In 1972, Argentina’s military dictatorship filled the prisons with political prisoners. The leaders of the various dissident factions were sent to a maximum security prison in Trelew, in remote Patagonia. There they came together – union leaders, revolutionaries, intellectuals – to plan a massive jail-break. The consequences of that attempt were something none of them could have anticipated. Weaving interviews with archive footage, Arruti deftly cuts the material into a fast-paced thriller, made tragic as hope is crushed by futility.

Argentina 2004 Dir Mariana Arruti 98mins

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