DocFest_20121 Film

Sheffield Doc/Fest: Day 3


Friday 15th, 2012

Friday proved to be an improvement on turnout from yesterday. Given the great number of delegates that spent the first two days networking and catching up, there was a great increase on the turnout from yesterday. I also heard stories of a number screenings filling up during the day, as the main and stand-by queues were filling up, all of this made people far more anxious to find and attend the festival videoteque to catch things. By the end of the day, I realised what information was need and when: to give then the login code, make sure they understood my writing (the European delegates Always put a line through the 0′s and 7′s), and to make sure I always gave them the full instructions on where to access it as there are two different videoteque sections on the website. Overall though, I feel we coped with the increasing rush of people relatively well, albeit that I’ve been a little taken a-back by the sudden pick-up halfway through the festival.

Due to the greater number of people attending today, the videoteque was close to being fully booked today. I was however able to view three shorts in the 30 minutes before the videoteque closed, all of which depicted various characters with interests and professions that they are deeply passionate about. In Paradise (Nadaz Kurtz, 2012) it is the Hispanic cleaners of the Chicago skyscrapers that are the main focus. The documentary’s observational footage shows them cleaning 100ft buildings using just a rope and safety harness with bucket and mop attached, but the voices of the workers themselves shows that they are still dedicated to their smilingly perilous occupation, with one of them jokingly musing about whether or not Heaven will need window washers. Closer to home Garden City (Gary McQuiggin, 2012) utilises poetic imagery of the English town of Welyen Garden city in counter-point to the music and voice of local musician Mark Astronaut. Astronaut talks about the town’s distinctive character and how to him it is sadly becoming a place where people “just go to London from”. The Globe Collector (Summer DeRoche, 2012), an Australian documentary which had it’s international debut at Sheffield Doc/Fest, is another short featuring an eccentric character. It focuses on the life and interests of Andrew Pullen, a man with Asperser’s Syndrome who has created the largest private collection of light bulbs in the world. Much like Mark Astronaut in Garden City, Pullen is driven by a need to preserve a part of history (albeit an esoteric part) that is beginning to fade into history, and the playful way in which the documentary illustrates his words as he says them illustrates his dedication to his collection.

The highlight of the day, and perhaps the festival, was How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012) which tells the story of the New York LGBT campaigning coalitions, ACT UP and TAG, and their attempts to make pharmaceutical companies release AID’s prevention drugs during the 1980′s and 80′s. Using largely found achieve footage from recordings and news programmes of the time, the documentary puts you right in the centre of the coalition debates and their activism. But the documentary adds to this observational footage with interviews interviews with scientists and the surviving members of the coalition, giving a perspective to these sequences. The documentary also breaks up the different years of the documentary with a counter showing just how many millions of characters had died AIDS-related deaths by that year in time. The documentary puts the viewer right in the heart of the debate and the action, and as a result it’s hard not to be moved by the documentary.

Due to the greater number of people attending today, the videoteque was close to being fully booked today. I was however able to view three shorts in the 30 minutes before the videoteque closed, all of which depicted various characters with interests and professions that they are deeply passionate about. In Paradise (Nadaz Kurtz, 2012) it is the Hispanic cleaners of the Chicago skyscrappers that are the main focus. The documentary’s observational footage shows them cleaning 100ft buildings using just a rope and saftey harness with bucket and mop attatched, but the voices of the workers themselves shows that they are still deadicated to their simingly parilous occupation, with one of them jokingly musing about whether or not Heaven will need window washers. Closer to home Garden City (Gary McQuiggin, 2012) utilises poetic imagery of the English town of Welwyn Garden city in counter-point to the music and voice of local musicain Mark Astronaut. Astronaut talks about the town’s distinctive character and how to him it is sadly becoming a place where people “just go to London from”. The Globe Collector (Summer DeRoche, 2012), an Austrailian documentary which had it’s international debut at Sheffield Doc/Fest, is another short featuring an eccentric character. It focuses on the life and interests of Andrew Pullen, a man with Asperger’s syndrome who has created the largest private collection of  lightbulbs in the world. Much like Mark Astronaut in Garden City, Pullen is driven by a need to preserve a part of history (albiet an esorteric part) that is begining to fade into history, and the the playful way in which the documentary illustrates his words as he says them illusrates his dedication to his collection.

The hightlight of the day, and perhaps the festival, was How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012) which tells the story of the New York LGBT campaigning coalitions, ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) and their attempts to make pharmaceutical companies release AID’s prevention drugs during the 1980′s and 80′s. Using largely archieve footage from recordings and newsprogrames of the time, the documentary puts you right in the centre of the coalition debates and their activism. But the documentary adds to this observational footage with intervies interviews with scientists and the surviving members of the coalition,  cgiving a perspective to these sequences. The documentary also breaks up the different years of the documentary with a counter showing just how many millions of characters had died AIDS-related deaths by that year in time.  The documentary puts the viewer right in the heart of the debate and the action, and as a result it’s hard not to be moved by the documentary.

Words: Nathaneal Sansam


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