Can it be that time of year again? Sheffield’s very own, unique festival celebrating the world of digital, cinema and music, and all points in between is back for its ninth year. There’s so much packed into the 8-day programme of events at Sensoria 2016 that it’s difficult to know where to start, but here we go anyway.
The most instantly appealing thing has to be the 3-ring circus that is a gig by Richard Hawley, John Grant and Bill Ryder-Jones. Who’s the headline act? Who knows? It will depend on which one of the three venues you go to, as they’ll all play each one of them as the opening act, then move between venues until they’ve played all three. Audiences sitting in the Upper Chapel, the University Drama Studio and the Trafalgar Warehouse will have no way of knowing who’ll be on first, second or third, but they will see them all. Let’s hope the Sheffield road system can cope with some frantic venue hopping. But that’s the final event of the week, so before that there will be a good few treats to sample in the run up the big closing event.
The Octagon will play host to the all-day Synthfest UK event on the opening day, catering for fans of all things synth-related. To finish off the day in style will be a rare performance from British electronic pioneers Blancmange, who are still producing acclaimed music to this day. And if you’re talking about electronic music pioneers, they don’t come any more legendary then Michael Rother. He was a member of both NEU! and Kraftwerk before embarking on a solo career, and this is the kind of performance you’ll never have another chance to see in Sheffield. Just the sort of unique Sensoria moment I look forward to every year. There’s more music throughout the week, with classical piano from Angela Hewitt, and what should be mesmerising performances by Hookworms and Ex-Easter Island Head.
The film screenings at Sensoria are always fascinating, and are often an opportunity to see something you wouldn’t get the chance to elsewhere. In the past I’ve watched films I never knew existed, but which have lived on in my mind ever since. Who knows what this year’s undiscovered gem will be, but there’s plenty of contenders. There’s a film about alternative rock band Sparklehorse, a selection of accompanied Georges Melies silent films and a Bill Drummond documentary, with the man himself in attendance. And then there’s a more mainstream screening of Shaft, Car Wash and Little Miss Sunshine too. Oh, and to top it all, Handmade Cinema will be creating a magical, immersive event for all the family, by screening, on the site of a former umbrella factory, Mary Poppins.
Binge watching has become a way of life for many in the digital age, so Sensoria 2016 have provided the chance to do just that when they screen Our Friends In The North for over 10 hours. Not content with that, they’ve somehow managed to persuade Christopher Eccleston, along with the writer Peter Flannery to come along and discuss the impact the series made and its continuing relevance.
Photographer Robert Frank has long been a fascination of mine, and I’m excited about the chance to see the film Don’t Blink-Robert Frank at the Showroom. Perhaps more than anyone else, Robert Frank changed the way we saw photography in the latter part of the last century. With his book ‘The Americans’, and his controversial film made as he accompanied The Rolling Stones on tour, he altered our perception of what photography could achieve.
Another triumph – don’t miss it. Sensoria 2016 looks like being the best ever!
All this and more can be found at their website www.sensoria.org.uk
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