August is off to a bit of a drizzly start, but it's perfect cinema weather and we have a lovely and varied programme coming up at Bertha DocHouse to entice you inside. Here's a round-up of our August screenings and events.
Our first release of the month tells the story of Palestinian freedom fighter Marwan Barghouti – who has been in jail since 2004. This film really packs a political punch, bringing together a host of expert voices to tell Barghouti’s story, as well as spending time with his family as they campaign for his release. Tomorrow’s Freedom plays until Wednesday 16th.
Also playing is the much-hyped (and rightly so) debut film by music producer D. Smith who takes a fresh approach to exploring the lives of four Black transgender sex workers in New York and Georgia. Original, authentic, hard-hitting and humorous, Kokomo City is now showing daily.
From Friday 11th, join us as we discover the incredible work of Italian photographer Paolo di Paolo, who burned bright as the most trusted photographer of Italy’s cultural elite including the likes of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna Magnani and Sofia Loren before giving it all up for a life of anonymity. This charming portrait, The Treasure of His Youth, is all the more moving following di Paolo’s passing away this June.
Next, we venture to the Himalayas of Nepal where Mikma and her family are making the arduous 300-mile annual journey by foot to sell medicinal herbs in the urban markets; but as times change, their century old tradition is under threat. A beautiful, contemplative film set in the stunning vistas of the mountains, Baato plays from Saturday 12th.
The middle of the month holds a clutch of really exciting events that we’re all looking forward to. Kicking off these events on Tuesday 15th is American artist and filmmaker Courtney Stephens, who will present her ‘documentary-performance’, Terra Femme. Live in the cinema, Stephens will narrate along to archive footage she has compiled of amateur travelogues shot by women between the 1920s and 1950s, weaving together a contemplation of past worlds, the Western gaze and the place of women within the landscapes of cinema and colonialism. This hasn’t been presented in the UK before, and we’re excited for this special performance.
On Thursday 17th, we have the second event in our new, monthly screening series ‘Sheffield DocFest Spotlights’ and we’re incredibly proud to be showing The Price of Truth, in which director Patrick Forbes follows his friend Dmitry Muratov. Muratov is the longstanding editor of Russia’s only independent newspaper and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, who embodies the fight for the free press as a cornerstone of democracy. It’s an extraordinary portrait of a truly steadfast and brave leader. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Patrick Forbes, moderated by DocFest MD Annabel Grundy.
We’re looking up to space from Friday 18th with Ido Mizrahy’s wonderful, thought-provoking exploration of space-bound isolation, The Longest Goodbye. The very real prospect of humans travelling to Mars in the next decade is a starting point for this thoughtful study of our basic need for deep connection, and we’re thrilled that Ido will join us for a virtual Q&A to launch the run, along with retired NASA astronaut Cady Coleman.
Both cinematic and politically engaging, The Wind Blows the Border explores indigenous land rights on the Brazil-Paraguay border. What makes this film particularly eye-opening is its close portrayals of both the indigenous women galvanising a movement to reclaim their ancestral lands, and the Brazilian lawyer on a mission to protect landowners from their ‘farm invasions’. Intimate access to both sides of the story makes for an invigorating, and often jaw-dropping, insight into this battle. Screening from Saturday 19th.
The next screening in our ongoing ‘Sunday Sessions’ strand, Richland is the yin to Oppenheimer’s yang – a present-day portrait of the US town of Richland, Washington, which was built to house the workers making plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Director Irene Lustig meets the residents today dealing with a complicated legacy, holding both pride and horror at the part they played in the atomic bomb. It’s an expansive and lyrical study of home and identity, and the human ability to normalise the extraordinary violence of the past. Richland shows on Sunday 20th.
Leading on from there, from Friday 25th we deep dive into 1940s America, where a young Orson Welles is propelled to Hollywood greatness against the backdrop of the Manhattan Project, the stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement and the start of the Cold War. American: An Odyssey to 1947 maps out the events of this momentous era as they intersect with Welles’s journey from star of the Hollywood studios to persona non grata, squarely in the sights of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI.
A treat to play alongside American, we have a one-off screening of Orson Welles’s terrific 1973 doc F For Fake, a masterpiece on the nature of forgery, trickery, authorship and authenticity, described as ‘too truthful to call a fiction film and too filled with lies to call a documentary’. F For Fake is a one-off £5 screening on Sunday 27th.
Our last event of the month is in partnership with the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) and takes place the UN’s International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Together we present a screening of the 2011 film Barzakh, an observation of a Chechen village in which the relatives of peopled ‘disappeared’ by Russian State security live in limbo, searching for news of their loved ones. The screening on Wednesday 30th will be followed by a panel discussion on the human cost of Russia’s actions in Chechnya and Ukraine.