DocFest 2019 is coming to Aldeburgh in November 1-3

Jill Green

Jill Green - Credit: Permission Jill Green

Jan Etherington previews Aldeburgh’s renowned documentary festival, celebrating 25 years with an outstanding line-up of diverse, important and entertaining films

Molly Dineen

Molly Dineen - Credit: National Portrait Gallery London

Jill Green, artistic director of the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival, admits she needs the skills of a diplomat, juggler and a jigsaw puzzler, plus the eye of an accomplished filmmaker (she is MD of Eleventh Hour Films) to get DocFest up on screen this month. But she is still smiling.

"Because it's a celebratory year," she says, "25 years ago, the documentary director, Molly Dineen, and her late mother-in-law, Felicity Ann Seighart, proposed the idea of a documentary festival here and this year Molly Dineen receives the award for Outstanding Contribution to Documentary and will be interviewed by Anthony Horowitz."

After Molly Dineen's award, two short films by young (12-16) Suffolk filmmakers, will be premiered, supported by Aldeburgh cinema and the Red house charities.

"We'll be looking back, over the last 25 years, at events and personalities from the past, whilst looking forward to the future and showcasing the work of young filmmakers - the next generation." Retrospective treats include a Buster Keaton Celebration, screening the silent movie star's film The Cameraman, with piano accompaniment by John Sweeney. Afterwards, comedian Paul Merton will talk about why Buster Keaton is his comedy hero. Also, we go back to the `60s in Life Is Wonderful - Mandela's Unsung Heroes which shines a light on the team of brave and inspirational lawyers who were tortured and imprisoned for life for defending ANC members in 1964. Director and former High Court Judge Sir Nick Stadlen leads a Q&A.

Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton - Credit: Aldeburgh DocFest

Janet Baker - In Her Own Words, sees the great classical singer discussing her life and work and Weiner follows Anthony Weiner's campaign to become Mayor of New York City.

Young cinemagoers will be gripped by Science Fair, which follows nine brilliant high school students, as they pitch their inventions and ideas against 1,700 of the smartest teenagers in the world, for a prize that only one can win.

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Whatever your age, Children Of The Snowland will enthral with its astounding story of Snowland school in Kathmandu. Each pupil comes from the isolated high Himalayas, where there are no schools, so parents must make a choice between school or family. The remoteness of the villages means students won't see their parents for a decade.

The film accompanies three pupils, now young adults, on their first journey home for ten years. Director Zara Balfour will take part in a Q&A with one of the pupils, Nima Gurung. Many of the documentaries show us new and disturbing worlds. In War Of Art a group of western artists are invited to travel to North Korea and collaborate with local artists, in a country where abstract art is forbidden.

Children of Snowland

Children of Snowland - Credit: Aldeburgh DocFest

"We are delighted that BBC's Nick Robinson is chairing the Q&A afterwards with the director, Tommy Gulliksen - a total character - and Nik Nowak, a sound artist, but t hey made him turn the volume down, so his work couldn't be heard. Their stories are hilarious and poignant," says Jill.

"I love meeting filmmakers and I love documentaries, which is just as well, as I've watched around 60 this year." But, after three years running the festival, Jill will be passing the clapperboard to a new director next year. Her last DocFest is dazzlingly diverse and it's no exaggeration to say there is something for absolutely everyone. aldeburgh-doc-fest

Bill Turnbull

Bill Turnbull - Credit: Permission Bill Turnbull


Lucy Lavers is the story of a restored lifeboat which makes a commemorative from Norfolk to Dunkirk. Last Breath is about a diver stranded on the bottom of the North Sea.

Jan Etherington will chair a discussion with director Zara Balfour and Nima Gurung, one of the pupils, after Children Of The Snowland screening

How to book tickets:

Box office T: 01728 454884

Open 10am-1pm Mon-Sat and 30 minutes before each performance.

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