Well Wednesday night was an experience.
One of the many things I love about Sheffield is the fact that everything is covered. You like climbing? There’s a festival. You like books? There’s a festival. You are an entrepreneur? Yep there’s a festival for that to. Music? Obviously. You like documentaries? Well here you go.
The main thing about Docfest is every year it makes me wish I was still a student. If I had no commitments I’d be volunteering without a doubt. To get in to see shows, be part of the adventure, and to get hold of one of those gorgeous yellow bags. But it’s just not possible to commit what with spending most of my life dropping off, waiting for and collecting children of an evening/weekend.
So I just settle for going to the odd event and this year the only one I made it to was Love is All At Chatsworth. And odd it really was.
It sounded idyllic. A beautiful summers evening spent in a field in Chatsworth, eating a picnic, chatting with friends, listening to music then watching a film about love on screen. Aahh.
The main trouble was the music was hardly relaxing. Hot Soles played first, which we weren’t expecting. Accomplished as they are they didn’t really seem to sit right for a romantically titled evening. They are far more suited to a raucous stage at Tramlines.
Then the Everley Pregnant Brothers appeared. Everyone from Sheffield adores them. You just have to. They are funny and homegrown. Last time I saw them they were hilarious. But last time I’d had at least 4 pints, as had the rest of the audience. They are certainly not what I’d call romantic.
Obviously I’m missing the point. I imagine is wasn’t about love but about the fact that the bands were from Sheffield. But there are tonnes of Sheffield bands who would have fitted the brief more. Although maybe not many who could fill a marquee.
In my view it was altogether a little strange.
The odd got odder as the chairs were put on the stage for a Q&A before the film. This is always the part I’m fascinated by. I was filled with hope again when a teenage hero of mine, Jeremy Hardy, stepped on stage. He was followed by two film makers and the force that is Richard Hawley. It should have been fascinating.
The next fifteen minutes was a car crash. Jeremy struggled to do his job and ask questions while the audience had moved onto that fourth pint and had stopped listening. I began to feel awkward as Richard Hawley angrily half answering questions while struggling with painkillers for his bad back. He asked for an ice cream and babbled about Margaret Thatcher. Then he swore dramatically and left the stage in what seemed to be, for want of a better word, a huff. Since I got home I’ve seen people call him a “legend” based on this performance. I’m clearly getting too old for all this.
On the upside the film was a joy. It was a series of archive footage, mostly in black and white, from films and footage through the ages. Funny, touching, and supported by the most wonderful soundtrack, I was genuinely moved. Of course it was also more than a bit misogynistic due to the eras represented, and there were a few too many shots of fireworks/bombs and rockets taking off, but overall it was a lovely film to see. And it included My Beautiful Launderette so I was reminded of my general adoration for Daniel Day Lewis. I must re-watch My Left Foot.
So the night ended on a high. But the whole experience was…well…odd.