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Doc'n Roll Film Festival returns to Broadway

2 March 20 interview: Alex Mace

Ahead of Doc’n Roll festival’s return to Nottingham, armed with its array of symphonic showings of music-based documentaries, we caught up with producer Mark McIntyre to discuss the who, what, where and why of this blossoming music film festival...

How are you, Mark?
I'm good thanks! I've just flown in from the US last night, so I've done an overnight flight without any sleep; so if I suddenly seem delirious then that'll be why.

Why has Nottingham been chosen to host the festival?
It's a highly complex answer; it's because I live here. It really is that simple. Me and a colleague, Nic, were aware of Doc’n Roll (DNR) that started in London a few years ago and there were a few films we wanted to see, and we thought: “Look at the costs of going to London; can people really do that?”

But we've got fantastic venues up here in Nottingham and a great audience, so we wanted to bring those films here. DNR were already interested in expanding; they started in London and I think the second festival was in Brighton and we thought this is an ideal city to do Doc n Roll and thankfully - so far - it's gone well. So yeah, that's the short history of DNR and hopefully it'll be a much longer history as we keep going.

So this isn’t Doc’n Roll’s first time in Nottingham?
We started off doing a little sampler - maybe three films - but we did our first main festival a couple of years ago and then we did it again last year. We got hold of a film called Rudeboy and we did that as a one-off showing and that was massive; a really great night. We're just - as you know - more or less finished planning for next month, which will be our second main festival. 

What would you say drew you to Broadway to host the festival?
Firstly, it's an iconic venue not only in Nottingham, but it's known throughout Europe; it's one of my favourite places in Nottingham. They've got a great capability for putting on not just a film but the event that surrounds it too, so they seem to us the ideal partner. From the moment we got in touch with them, they've been absolutely good as gold. 

Focusing on the docs themselves, do you think it's important to tell the stories of music, its impact and creation?
Partly, yes. I don't mean this in a critical way, but if you watch a BBC 4 music doc, it's kind of just the story of the band. They started there, made this album, ended up here, someone ended up in prison and here's what they're doing now; and that's all fine and it's all high quality, but I think a lot of DNR is almost like an uncovered story or an angle you haven't heard before. I think storytelling is still important but as well as giving a voice or a distribution channel to films that might otherwise find it more difficult or not get quite so much coverage. 

"Seeing how the film is put together and learning the story has actually been fascinating and it opens your mind to certain genres

The films we have lined up for Nottingham all look great, but which film do people have to see?
Well actually this one is easy for me: it's the White Riot film. We had the other films lined up and almost at the eleventh hour we got the nod from London that we got hold of White Riot. I grew up on this stuff and in the kind of folklore of punk and reggae, the first Rock Against Racism (RAR) gig in Victoria Park is etched in everyone's DNA. I watched it last Saturday afternoon and it's a fantastic film, the music is brilliant and it does a great job at explaining what was going on; I felt like I was 30 years younger. It’s just well worth watching.

I think that will sell really well and my encouragement to people on that one would be to get tickets early because it could easily sell out. Then afterwards we've got a DJ set at Broadway which will be a kind of mix of punk and reggae which will be fantastic. We've even got one of the original founders of RAR coming up, Ruth Gregory; she's coming up to do a Q&A panel. 

So when you book a ticket for one of the docs, you're not just getting a film, are you?
No, no. Officially it's called an “enhanced screening”, which I only found out when I started doing this stuff. We will be just showing some films on their own. For instance, on the Sunday of the festival we've got the story of David Crosby, but for certain films if there's a Nottingham connection, or if the director is really promoting it, or we know a band related to the story, we'll try and put events on around the showing of the doc itself.

How easy is it to get the younger generation involved in these sorts of things?
I suppose it's one of the great ambitions, getting people who are younger both interested and ultimately making new films. In terms of the events themselves, I think the one I'm pretty excited about is the history of drum and bass which is relatively contemporary for the younger generations. 

We've got James Busby who runs the Detonate Festival, we've got Colin Steven who's launching a book about the history of drum and bass, and Jeremy Prince who's a pretty prolific DJ in Nottingham who will hopefully get to do a set after the doc but also will hopefully be a part of the panel.

I think that's one of the things we're trying to achieve with DNR. I happen to love Jamaican music but from doing this I've been exposed to docs about stuff that actually I’d actively say I don't like very much. But being involved with it, seeing how the film is put together and learning the story has actually been fascinating and it opens your mind to certain genres that I'd be less open to in the past. 

Last year the theme was around women in the industry. Is there a theme for this year?
Not particularly, partly because of my interest and Nic's interests, we try and get something that's got a little bit of a Jamaican feel and obviously there's not a thousand films out there about that, but if there is one then I'm gonna grab it and it's coming to Nottingham.

Doc’n Roll Film Festival will take place at Broadway Cinema from 27 - 29 March

docnrollfestival.com/locations/nottingham

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