Open City Documentary Festival returns

We take a look at some of the highlights

by Sunil Chauhan

Midnight Family
Midnight Family Photo: Luke Lorentzen
This year’s Open City Documentary Festival will take place across London from September 4 to 10. Alice Riff’s Elections, a film on school elections in Sao Paulo, will open the six-day festival, while Kavich Neang’s Last Night I Saw You Smiling, explores the history of a long serving home for Cambodian artists that is now set for demolition.

Key British documentaries at the festival include Lucy Parker’s Solidarity, an investigation into workplace blacklists and Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s Here For Life, an observational documentary about the residents of a London commune.

Prolific Russian director Sergei Loznitsa will be present for a screening of his The Trial, a found footage documentary made from archival film of one of Joseph Stalin’s first show trials, shot in Moscow in 1930 where the trial is real but the crime is staged. Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase will also be at the festival for a rare showcase of her non-fiction work as will Chinese director Zhao Liang.

Elsewhere in the programme, Sheffield Doc/Fest Grand Jury Award winner Midnight Family, about a privately-run ambulance in Mexico and edited with the tension of an actioner, should prove an audience hit. MS Slavic 7 follows a young woman whose research trip to Harvard University to find the letters of her great-grandmother unleashes simmering family tensions. Breathless Animals pivots on a conversation between filmmaker Lei Lei and his mother on her memories of Maoist China as a young girl. Meanwhile Movements of a Nearby Mountain is one of several films in this year’s programme looking at industry and the economy, is a portrait of a self-taught Nigerian mechanic labouring in an abandoned industrial site in the Austrian Alps.

Masterclasses will be presented by Mila Turajlić (The Other Side of Everything, Cinema Komunisto), Sruthi Pinnamaneni (senior reporter for the Reply All podcast), and multimedia artist and journalist Sayre Quevedo.

Three prizes are up for grabs. Judges for the Open City award include producer Tabitha Jackson, curator Karen Alexander, lecturer and author Erika Balsom, Kingdom Of Us documentarian Lucy Cohen and Island director Steven Eastwood. The Best UK Short Award will be decided by Brett Story (The Hottest August, also in the programme), Doc/Fest's Patrick Hurley, filmmaker Daisy Ifama, artist Onyeka Igwe and Another Gaze editor Daniella Shreir. The Emerging International Filmmaker Award will be judged by curator Greg de Cuir Jr, filmmakers Yasmin Fedda and Edward Lawrenson and critic Kevin B Lee.

For more information visit the official site.

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