Fav docs of Sheffield Doc/Fest's programmer
Since he joined in 2007, Hussain Currimbhoy has watched thousands of documentaries as film programmer for Sheffield Doc/Fest. At this morning’s (9 May) official press launch of the festival – now in its 20th year – Currimbhoy took time out to speak to The Knowledge to tell us about his top 3 favourite films from this year’s line-up. He also revealed which documentary films of all time have made him laugh, cry, and question his own existence…
Taking place 12-16 June, the programme for this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest is as jam-packed as ever. Along with talks, live music, and the pitching session MeetMarket, there is of course the line-up of documentary films. Responsible for selecting these films is the festival’s film programmer, Hussain Currimbhoy.
For this year’s festival, Currimbhoy had to wade through about 2,000 documentaries, whittling them down to 77 features, 33 shorts, 10 interactive and 1 art installation. But what out of this year’s selection is he most excited about? And which docs really engage his emotions?
His top 3 films from this year’s festival
As fan of stand-up comedy, Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (dir: Marina Zenovich) is one of Currimbhoy’s favourites: “He was a total pioneer. You learn about the mind of this guy who you think was hilarious like Robin Williams, but he’s not - he’s actually quite tragic.”
He also earmarked Muscle Shoals (dir: Greg “Freddy” Camalier) “It’s like this dump in a swamp, surrounded by crap, and some amazing bands came out of there and just walked in and recorded some amazing albums, like Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and Wilson Pickett. The film is very gentle, intelligent and treats you like you’re a human being. Probably the best music doc we have this year.”
Currimbhoy's third choice is God Loves Uganda (dir: Roger Ross Williams – who won an Oscar in 2012 for his documentary short Music is Prudence). “It’s quite tragic but beautifully crafted by Williams. The humanity that comes out of it is mind-blowing and really admirable.”
But what about documentary films outside the festival? What films have the power to evoke Currimbhoy’s emotions? We asked him to tell all…
What film makes you cry?
Portrait of Jason (dir: Shirley Clark, 1968) I’ve never cried at a documentary but what gets me every time is this film. Love that movie.
What film have you watched the most?
Portrait of Jason
What film makes you laugh the most?
Winnebago Man (dir: Ben Steinbauer, 2009)
What film makes you speechless?
Showa (dir: Claude Lanzmann, 1985) – “It’s a 9 1/2 hour film about the Holocaust. What do you say after that film? I either need to go kill myself, or be nice to my mum for a change…”
What film makes you question your own existence?
Mirage Men (dir: John Lundberg, from this year’s festival) Just because it addresses the UFO issue. If UFO’s are real, then a lot of other things we believe in have a little more foundation, like religion. You start asking questions about universal truths, about yourself, about morality, what’s right for us, what’s right for them. This film takes apart these questions in a very subtle way.”
What film makes you appreciate life?
Man on Wire (dir: James Marsh, 2008) “There’s that moment - I still get chills when I think about it - when he walks on that wire, with the piano piece playing, and it’s like ‘wow’, we can do anything. If we want to, we can really do anything if we put our minds to it and believe in a dream. It’s f*cking possible. The balls on this guy! If he can believe so much and can risk his life about something and make it happen in front of the whole world then what the hell am I doing sitting here? I have potential... It vanished after half an hour, but that sentiment gave me a perk and it made me realise I was alive.”
The Sheffield Doc/Fest takes place from 12 -16 June. For further details about the event, click here