Posts Tagged ‘Sheffield Doc Festival’

Men Who Sing (2021) Sheffield Doc Festival 2021

Dir/Wri: Daryl Williams | UK Doc 77′

The Welsh are well known for their singing. And this charming story about an elderly Welshman’s choir in the town of Rhyl on the Denbighshire coast, makes it World Premiere at this year’s Sheffield doc festival.

Director Dylan Williams is best known for his award-winning documentary debut Men Who Swim (2010), and this thematic sequel turns out to be another poignant love letter – this time to his father. Not the closest pair, the two are reunited when the widowed 90 year old announces he’s selling the family home “while he’s still able”. Naturally this is a wake up call to ‘only child’ Dylan, who promptly makes his way back from his home in Sweden where he has lived for the past twenty years.

Almost entirely in the Welsh language this is, unsurprisingly, a tuneful and light-heated biopic, making great use of its green and pleasant coastal settings in the former industrial town in North Wales, known for building the airbus, and this is where most of the choir men have been gainfully employed. Now retired they have found cosy camaraderie in this local choir, and inspiration from their feisty choir-mistress Ann)

But most of the men are now mostly in their eighties, and a much needed recruitment drive to find new singers to boost their dwindling numbers makes up the other main strand to the narrative, along with the important need to keep practising, improving and entering competitions, adding an element of drama to the storyline. Men Who Sing is not just a another tribute to a filmmaker’s father, this is a well-structured and watchable portrait of a choir, and a generation of men soon to be lost forever in the industrial heartlands of North Wales. MT

SHEFFIELD DOC FESTIVAL 2021

The Savior For Sale: The Story of Salvator Mundi (2020) Sheffield Doc Festival 2021

Dir: Antoine Vitkine | France Doc 95′

Controversy has long surrounded this emotive work of art purportedly by Leonardo da Vinci. Like a beautiful woman, many men have struggled to win her and have succeeded, but then been deceived or outwitted. But the ‘Salvator Mundi’ represents more than just a depiction of Christ, it has a deeper resonance thanks to its title: ‘Saviour of the World’ capturing the zeitgeist of our fragile planet, that resonates beyond Christendom.

Best known in France for his TV outings: ‘Magda Goebels, First Lady of the Third Reich’ (2017) and ‘The President and the Dictator: Sarkozy-Kadafi’ (2015), journalist, writer and director Antoine Vitkine explores the painting’s eventful journey from discovery to oblivion so exposing the vagaries of the international art market. This is a lushly mounted sinuously-scored thriller, its twists and turns revealing some of the most powerful players in the art world, and those making money out of them. It’s a tale of backbiting, greed and hype that shows how leverage from a handful of key players can transform a virtually valueless piece to a painting commanding millions the following day in the hurly burly of market credibility.

From the opening scenes The Savior For Sale bristles with intrigue and skulduggery transporting us into the hushed homes and yachts of the super-rich from Paris to New York, London to Monaco. A masterpiece in investigative journalism the film’s cut and thrust only adds to its allure, showing how the ‘Salvator’s’ attribution to the legendary old Italian master would see its value rise to stellar heights, becoming “the most expensive – and coveted – painting in the world”.

Modest yet deeply resonant its depiction of a serene Christ – not unlike that of the Mona Lisa – the painting’s route to success comes courtesy of a fascinating group of protagonists whose roll-call plays out like a game of Cluedo. There is “The Expert” Martin Kemp; “The Dealer” Warren Adelson; “The Journalist” Scott Reyburn; “The Oligarch” Dmitri Rybolovlev and his Swiss right-hand man Yves Bouvier. Belgian art specialist Chris Deacon also makes his case, and soon the Saudis wade in with their billions. The aim is to prove that Leornardo was the painter, not simply his studio, and there’s a great deal to be gained – and lost – financially in the process. MT

SCREENING DURING SHEFFIELD DOC FESTIVAL 2021

Copyright © 2022 Filmuforia