|(C) Nynke Weirda|
Youth Jury Award: Photographic Memory
Audience Award: 5 Broken Cameras
Innovation Award: Bear 71
Green Award: Law of the Jungle
Inspiration Award: Penny Woolcock
Some interesting picks from the jury there. What caused most consternation amongst festival goers was Photographic Memory, a film that I personally liked very much, but seemed very divisive. It is certainly a less obvious choice than the nailed-on, pre-festival favourite Indie Game: The Movie. Also seemingly controversial was Law of the Jungle, a film I personally thought was at best solid, but not exactly what I'd call gongworthy.
|(C) Nynke Weirda|
1. Searching for Sugar Man
I was won over instantly by Malik Bendjelloul's masterful pop star mystery. The story of how a couple of South African fans attempt to track down obscure 70s troubadour Rodriguez - who last they heard had killed himself on stage - is spellbinding and unpredictable at each and every turn. Apparently missed out on the Audience Award by 1 point at the final tally - for shame.
2. Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
I don't care much for speed metal, but Jesse Vile's quite brilliant doc hit all the right notes (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?). A beautiful, touching and funny portrait of breathtakingly talented guitar Jason Becker, who at age 20 and on the verge of superstardom was struck down with Lou Gehrig's Disease. An extraordinary film about an extraordinary man.
3. The House I Live In
Eugene Jarecki's documentary about the US government's 'war on drugs' was an epic, sprawling look inside a thoroughly fucked up system. Makes you feel as angry as it does helpless, Jarecki's film paints an ugly portrait of America, in which the poorest are royally screwed at every turn. Depressing, yet great.
4. The Other Dream Team
It might not be the most originally put together or formally interesting film you'll ever see, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable flick at the festival this year. The entertaining and uplifting tale of Lithuanian basketball players forced to compete for the USSR, before playing for their own team after independence is won, is as feel good as it gets. Also, if you don't really know the story, you won't see the Grateful Dead's involvement coming...
5. The Punk Syndrome
A film following a Finnish punk band whose members all have severe learning disabilities works so well because it approaches the subjects as if they were any other regular band. The results are hilarious and the humanity wins through to the end. The manicure and sports day scenes rank up there with the best of the festival. Plus the band are pretty fucking tight.
I must give honourable mentions too to How To Survive A Plague, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, China Heavyweight, Photographic Memory and One Mile Away, all of which I enjoyed immensely and would have probably made the top five in any other year.
|(C) Sheffield Doc/Fest|
I must thank some awesome film writer types (I'm pushing for acceptance of the term journologgers) for keeping me company throughout the fest. These include Alex Rowland, Tom Grater, Matthew Thrift, Martin Parsons, Colin Oakley, Adam Batty and Jonathan Hatfull. If you look below you'll find a special bonus Shot/Reverse Shot Podcast where I interview Alex, Colin and Martin. I'm truly saddened to say that my very entertaining chat with Adam Batty had to be cut because due to a bizarre digital hiccup, we sounded like two robots drowning in a tin bath full of marbles.
Until next year!