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Issue No. 2453

Dark documentaries explore struggles and disasters 

The Sheffield Doc Fest has announced its 2015 line-up. A lot of the material is political but also dark.

Sheffield Doc Fest is the largest film festival of its kind in Britain. 

Every year more than 150 short and feature length documentary films from around the world are screened.  

This year’s festival will open with director Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, a follow-up to his last film The Act of Killing.

Both focus on a man whose brother was murdered in the 1965-66 Indonesian coup. In the first he was searching for the killers.

In the follow-up he gets to confront them. 

Next up, The Russian Woodpecker follows Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich’s quest to uncover what lay behind the nuclear disaster in his home town Chernobyl.

He puts the disaster down to a dubious Soviet conspiracy to cover-up an incompetent military project nearby. 

A few films worth catching also focus on radical politics.

One is A Syrian Love Story. Director Sean McAllister follows revolutionaries Raghda and Amer during the last four years of fighting in Syria. 

Another is The Black Panthers—Vanguards of the Revolution.

Director Stanley Nelson uses archive footage and personal accounts from Black Panther Party members, FBI informants and journalists to piece together their story. 

Sheffield Doc Fest 

5-10 June 
For more information go to

Conscience and Conflict—British artists and the spanish civil war

The Spanish republic of 1931-39 became a rallying cry for socialists and working class militants who wanted to fight against General Franco’s fascist army.

Artists from a broad range of movements responded to the Spanish Civil War. 

The socialist Artists International Association launched a “Help Spain!” campaign.

Meanwhile, others tried to push the Tory government to send aid. Surrealist artists dressed up like prime minister Neville Chamberlain on the 1938 May Day Parade mocking his appeasement of fascist regimes. 

The exhibition also looks at the work of artists who went to fight in Spain. In particular, Felicia Brown produced striking war art and also fought and died as part of a Communist militia in Barcelona. 

Laing Art Gallery,
Newcastle NE1 8AG.  
Until 7 June
Free entry

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Article information

Tue 12 May 2015, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2453
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