My DocFest – mini reviews – day 1

I’m lucky enough to have a delegate pass for #sheffdocfest through work. I therefore feel its my duty to make the most of it and fit in as many films as I can (3 per day for the days I can attend).

I have written each mini-review below upon immediately leaving the screening, as fast as possible, on my phone. The purpose is to remember each film and capture my immediate impressions without too much reflection, before the impact of the film dissipates.


Docfest #1 – Generation Wealth, USA. Excellent, about the greed and excess of the modern world, and the explosion over the past 25 years in desire to “be rich and famous”, how its affecting young people, children and the “pornification” of culture. Interviewees from billionaires, LA playboys and girls, pornstars and to some degree a self portrait of the documentarian Laura Greenfield herself.
Many comparisons to the end of days and decline of the Roman Empire. Interestingly ends on an upbeat with those whose have gone through extreme excesses confirming the old adages of “money can’t buy happiness” and what matters is love, family and community. Amazing how many people in this world that simply is not obvious to – and a reminder that we need to actively teach those values to our children in an age when consumerist, body fascist media instructs them otherwise.

Docfest #2 – Room for a Man: Argentina, Lebanon, USA. Kind of a personal video essay by and about a young gay Lebanese filmmaker, his experience of family life with his mother and a culture that is unaccepting of his sexuality, and then a journey to spend time with his father. To be brutally honest, I found this a bit slow and boring, largely close ups and voice over , but little dialogue in general. It definitely got across a sense of claustrophobia and feeling trapped, highlights were segments of his dad chatting but it kind of felt like a film with all the good bits cut out and the boring bits left in. I was willing to go with the poetic slow pace for a while at least, it clearly has a message of a life on hold, but one that is difficult to engage with and maintain interest. Exacerbated by the fact that the most annoying man in the world was sitting next to me who, once his head stopped lolling about from nodding off, he spent the rest of the film constantly checking his iWatch and leaning over every minute to fiddle with something on the floor.

Docfest #3 – Gun No. 6, UK. Really powerful documentary following the story of a gun that is still on the streets of the UK. Starting following the ballistics process, we trace crimes the gun has been involved with, and the story spreads to the personal stories of gun crime victims, and perpetrators also. The most impressive aspect is the involvement of ex-convicts involved in gun crime who are willing participants in reenactments, psychological analysis and speak about their own lives and the reform work and mentoring they are involved with. All the key participants were at the post film Q&A with the filmmakers, and this is clearly an important film for them but also to get out to all young people in the UK. And everyone really. A slice of UK reality many of us don’t normally see and often choose to ignore. Also the first film at DocFest to make me cry.

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