Sheffield DocFest Hires BFI Executive Annabel Grundy as Managing Director

Annabel Grundy is set to join leading U.K. documentary festival Sheffield DocFest as managing director following its return to a predominantly in-person event this June.

Grundy will join in December from her current role as project manager with the British Film Institute’s U.K. Global Screen Fund.

As MD of Sheffield DocFest, which saw attendances exceeding 30,000 this year, Grundy will be responsible for the charity’s business affairs, partnerships and fundraising, production and operations as well as audience development. The role is a new joint leadership position and will work collaboratively with Raul Niño Zambrano who serves as acting creative director.

Zambrano is responsible for setting the agenda across the festival’s film programs, alternate realities exhibition, marketplace and talent activities, and talks and sessions for the 30th edition in 2023.

Grundy is a Sheffield local with over 20 years of experience including producing festivals and film industry events in Sydney, London and Edinburgh and has worked with British Council, Riverside Studios, Edinburgh International Film Festival and the BFI Film Audience Network.

In 2021, after a period of turbulence when a clash between artistic and commercial values led the entire programming team to be ousted following the departure of artistic director Cintia Gil, the festival appointed Clare Stewart, former festival director of BFI London Film Festival as interim CEO. Stewart will support the transition for both managing and creative directors and conclude her role at the end of the year as planned, the festival said.

Stewart said: “The festival plays a hugely important role in the British documentary ecosystem, has impressive global impact and is deeply embedded in a city that embraces creativity and curiosity. At a time of great challenge for film festivals everywhere, it is important to underscore and properly value how much this charitable organisation achieves, and to support its inspiring new leadership – Annabel Grundy and Raul Niño Zambrano – and their vision for the future.”

Alex Cooke, chair of the board of trustees, Sheffield DocFest, said: “Strategic and business-minded, Annabel combines international perspective and experience with a deep commitment to Sheffield and audiences in the North, evidenced by her time working with BFI’s Film Audience Network. This combination of strengths sees Annabel well-placed to consolidate all the potential that South Yorkshire offers and to continue to grow Sheffield DocFest’s global impact.”

Grundy added: “Sheffield DocFest backs local talent and has strong bonds with an international community in a growing sector. We also continue to expand boundaries of storytelling and technology with our immersive alternate realities program. It’s an exciting time to join the organization as we move beyond pandemic recovery and focus on our true purpose – championing the art of docs – for local audiences looking for an extraordinary experience on their doorstep, and for the makers and filmmakers who continue to join us for inspiration, business connections and a great time in June each year.

The festival celebrates its 30th edition in 2023 and will run June 14-19.

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