Sean McAllister

I made the first film to escape from the factory. I had got the story there. I sent it to Bournemouth cinema school. They admitted me on the spot and wanted to make the film. They offered a whole crew with cranks and all. I refused. They insisted. I left and went back to the factory with a camera in my bag. I would film whenever the supervisor was out of sight. I would get my camera out. The supervisor would clock me and shout. I once shot him as he was screaming at me, it was then that I understood what makes drama.” – Sean McAllister

Sean McAllister is much more than a dispassionate fly-on-the-wall observer of other peoples lives, there is a fly-in-the-soup (Vérité) approach to his film-making, he becomes involved, he intervenes, he asks the questions which often provoke his subjects (and himself) into insights, thoughts, and realisations which they never knew they had. From his early films Working For The Enemy (1997) and The Minders (1998), Sundance Jury Prize-winning The Liberace Of Baghdad (2004) and Japan: A Story Of Love And Hate (2008) to his more recent successes, The Reluctant Revolutionary, Sheffield Jury Prize winning, BAFTA nominated A Syrian Love Story (2015), and now A Northern Soul (2018) Sean’s work continues to inspire, to surprise and to fascinate audiences.

Sean has made films for both the BBC and Channel 4; working in the UK, Israel, Iraq, Japan, The Yemen, and Syria (whilst filming A Syrian Love Story) where he was picked-up by the security forces and held for 6 days before being deported back to the UK. His films are intimate portraits of people from different parts of the world who are survivors; caught up in political and personal conflict struggling to make sense of the world we live in. Sean McAllister’s filmmaking success is a triumph for anti-apathy – a triumph for himself and for the people he puts on screen.

The great thing about Sean’s films is that he champions the characters in his documentaries, he always takes a loser and makes them a winner.” – D A Pennebaker

Sean McAllister makes filming look easy” – Nick Fraser, BBC Commissioning Editor

Read more about Sean McAllister on his website at