Special guests 2016:                             PENNY WOOLCOCK & ROSS MCELWEE

Ross McElwee is a pioneer of the filmmaker as artist-philosopher. Using his own life to explore both grand themes and everyday detail with equal humor, wisdom and irreverence, his films are more like accidental memoirs than documentaries. McElwee, always the thoughtful and unreliable narrator, leads us on meandering journeys, exploring the aspects of life that obsess us the most: love, death, memory, parenthood and most recently the process of aging.

Since his watershed moment, the cult classic Sherman’s March (1986), through the films that have followed—Time Indefinite (1993), Six O’Clock News (1997), and Bright Leaves (2003)— McElwee has released a string of autobiographical films that, taken together, are unlike any other body of work in cinema. McElwee’s films feel more like Proust than Pennebaker.

Any filmmaker who is interested in first person cinema must come and benefit from this unique opportunity to learn, watch and exchange insights with one of documentary film’s most respected directors at one of documentary’s most intimate festivals.

A jewel in the crown of British documentary cinema and more recently British opera, female filmmakers will take heart from the fact that Penny Woolcock was never formally trained and began her filmmaking career as a single mother in her mid 30s.

Penny Woolcock is a writer and director working across art installations, documentary, fiction films and live opera. She is interested in what happens on the margins.

She has written and directed streetcast fictions, including Tina goes shopping and Tina Takes a Break and feature films The Principles of Lust, Mischief Night, Exodus and1 Day. 1 Day led to One Mile Away following a peace process between two inner-city gangs. Other documentaries includeGoing to the Dogs about dogfighting, The Wet House and On The Streets. She has made archive films From the Sea to the Land Beyond and Out of the Rubble.

Her immersive art installation Utopia showed at the Roundhouse in 2015. She has just directed The Passion in Manchester with Streetwise Opera and The Sixteen a world class early music choir.

Her opera film, John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer led to stage productions of John Adams’Doctor Atomic and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers for the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.