Open City announces line-up

Seventh edition of London documentary fest runs September 5-10

by Amber Wilkinson

Open City Documentary Festival has announced the full programme of its seventh edition, which will open with Taste Of Cement on September 5 and close with Purge This Land on September 10.

The line-up includes 36 UK premieres (21 features and 15 shorts) and events will span 13 London venues.

Michael Stewart, Founder of Open City Docs, said: "We’re excited to reveal the details of this year’s eclectic programme. We are living through a time when a cloud of unknowing seems to have enveloped us.

"The role of documentary cinema is not, in our view, to provide answers, rather, to hold an eye askance at the shape of the world and to show us things we do not normally see. Pick a film from each day of the festival and I trust you will find six diverse visions of what it means to be a human today."

In addition to features, there will be a shorts programme and a number of special events. The full feature line-up is below (descriptions provided by the festival).

Opening and Closing night galas

Taste Of Cement, Ziad Kalthoum - cinematic portrait of exiled Syrian workers trapped in a skyscraper that they are building in Beirut and unable to shake off memories of the shelling of their own homes.

Purge This Land, Lee Ann Schmitt - retells the history of racism and slavery in modern America through the prism of white, militant abolitionist John Brown who was sentenced to death in 1859 for a failed attempt to start an armed revolution.

In Focus: Vitaly Mansky

Open City will celebrate the distinguished career of Ukrainian-born Vitaly Mansky - one of Russia’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers who now lives in exile in Riga. Mansky has tirelessly chronicled political and social developments in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union through examining the struggles of everyday-lives.

The films in this selection blend myth, reality, propaganda and fiction to reveal the many-sided legacy of the Soviet dream.

Private Chronicles. Monologue, Vitaly Mansky, Russia, 1999
Broadway. Black Sea, Vitaly Mansky, Russia, 2002
Gagarin’s Pioneers, Vitaly Mansky, Russia, 2005
Motherland Or Death, Vitaly Mansky, Russia, 2011

In Focus: Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd

Open City will also showcase the work of Belgian filmmaker Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd by screening his three most recent films - a loose trilogy.

Filmed mostly in 16mm and Super 8, and with scores from British avant-garde musician Richard Skelton, these works investigate the correlation between war, madness and memory through the lives of those who are victims of conflict and exile.

Lost Land, Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, Belgium, 2011
For The Lost, Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, Belgium, 2014
The Eternals (UK Premiere), Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, Belgium, 2017

Awards And Competitions:

Grand Jury Award

Bitter Money (UK Premiere), Wang Bing, China, 2016
From A Year Of Non-Events (Uk Premiere), Ann Carolin Renninger & René Frölke, Germany, 2017
Purge This Land (UK Premiere), Lee Anne Schmitt, Usa, 2017
The Eternals (UK Premiere), Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, Belgium, 2017

Emerging International Filmmaker Award

A Moon Of Nickel And Ice (UK Premiere), François Jacob, Quebec, 2016
Atelier De Conversation (UK Premiere), Bernhard Braunstein, Austria / France / Liechtenstein, 2017
Memory Exercises (UK Premiere), Paz Encina, Paraguay, 2016
Taste Of Cement (UK Premiere), Ziad Kalthoum, Germany / Lebanon / Syria / United Arab Emirates/Qatar, 2017

Official Selection

Almost Heaven, Carol Salter, UK, 2017
Burning Out (UK Premiere), Jerome Le Maire, Belgium, 2016
Calabria (UK Premiere), Pierre-François Sauter, Switzerland, 2016
Contemporary Color (UK Premiere), Ross Bros, Usa, 2016
Craigslist Allstars (UK Premiere), Samira Elagoz, The Netherlands/Finland, 2016
Dark Skull (UK Premiere), Kiro Russo, Bolivia/Qatar, 2016 - Read our feature interview with the director
Donkeyote, Chico Pereira, Germany/UK/Spain, 2017
Deliver Us, Federica Di Giacomo, Italy/France, 2016
Linefork (UK Premiere), Jeff Silver, USA, 2016
95 And 6 To Go (UK Premiere), Kimi Takesue, 2016
Photon (UK Premiere), Norman Leto, Poland, 2017
Pump (UK Premiere), Joseph David, France, 2017
Rebel Of The Keys, Mark Charles, Uk, 2016
Sanctuary (UK Premiere), Ashley Sabin/David Redmon, Canada/USA/UK, 2017
Small Talk (UK Premiere), Hui-Chen Huang, Taiwan, 2016
Spectres Are Haunting Europe, Maria Kourkouta / Niki Giannari, France/Greece, 2016
The Lure, Tomas Leach, UK, 2016

Special Events:

Marc Isaacs: Out Of Time

Filmmaker Marc Isaacs will present four new works offering an encounter with intimacy, human fragility and the passage of time. Isaacs goes back to original material gathered over a fifteen year period and which has mostly never been screened before.

The Playroom Booths/Don’t Ask, Don’t Apologise

Three story enclaves will bring together an immersive set, video projection and interviews taking people into the story of rave, soundsystem and queer culture – exploring how these alternative scenes not only changed the musical landscape but also, by physically reclaiming city space changed how we relate to its invisible power structures.

The Island Of St Matthews

A prelude to Tate Modern's So I Can Get Them Told season, a retrospective of the films of American artist Kevin Jerome Everson. This screening features Everson's 16mm feature film The Island of St Matthews, a poem and paean to the citizens of Westport, Mississippi, recalling all that was lost during the 1973 flooding of a nearby river.


The Edge project is a narrative driven exploration of contemporary situated practice in 'edge' urban settings, focusing on in-between spaces and the creative ways to which these can be used. Screenings will be held at three locations each of which are situated on the High Speed 1 rail link (HS1) route between London and Folkestone and will explore one of the symposiums’ three key themes - Gateway, Periphery and Border. In association with Urban Labs, Film + Place + Architecture and The Bartlett School of Architecture.

Whicker’s World Foundation Presents: We Were Kings The World Premiere of We Were Kings in partnership with the British Library, a rediscovery of Burma’s lost royal family. Deposed and exiled by Britain, they are now emerging from the shadows in a country experiencing seismic change. This intriguing documentary won the Whicker’s World Foundation inaugural Funding Award for historian and first time director, Alex Bescoby.

Anagram Presents The Day Is My Enemy

This live event will bring together rarely seen film archive charting the story of how music subculture has shaped the metropolis with a live soundtrack scored in collaboration with musicians.

For more information about the festival, venues and times, visit the official site

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