Open City Documentary Festival Preview

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Open City Documentary Festival has always approached its task a little differently. Instead of just screening the biggest films it can get hold of they take a more inquisitive approach. Championing the art of creative documentary and non-fiction filmmakers, the festival looks to challenge perceptions and confound expectations within the genre. This year the festival takes place in London between 8th and 14th September. This is then followed by a digital edition from 13th to 23th of the same month.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Songs for the River

Over the course of a year, filmmaker Charlotte Ginsborg filmed the London housing co-operative that she lives in, looking to chart the residents’ diverse experiences of the pandemic, across the daily life of numerous national lockdowns.

Icarus (After Amelia)

Icarus (after Amelia) is a gendered labour study. Shot on 35mm colour film and beginning in the clouds above the city of Glasgow and continuing to the workplace below, this film is a meditation on ideologies of work; on fixed perspectives, horizons, love, and theoretical determinants.

Delphine’s Prayers

This film is the portrait of Delphine, a young Cameroonian girl who, after the death of her mother and the abandonment of her father’s parental responsibilities, is raped at the age of 13. She sinks into prostitution to support herself and her daughter. She ends up marrying a Belgian man who is three times her age, hoping to find a better life in Europe for her and her daughter. Seven years later, the European dream has dissipated and her situation has only gotten worse.

Taming the Garden

A powerful man, who is also the former prime minister of Georgia, has developed an unusual hobby. He buys century-old trees, some as tall as 15-floor buildings, and has them excavated along the Georgian coastline to collect them for his private garden.

The Year of Discovery

Neighbours, youngsters and unemployed workers chat inside a bar between cigarettes, breakasts and snacks. They remember unusual dreams, share job stories and plan future projects. The bar is located in the city of Cartagena, in the southeast of Spain. As the day goes on, the riots from the industrial crisis of 1992 are heard more and more closely.

Rock Bottom Riser

As lava continues to flow from the earth’s core on the island of Hawaii – posing an imminent danger – a crisis mounts. Astronomers plan to build the world’s largest telescope on Hawaii’s most sacred and revered mountain, Mauna Kea.

Blue House

Alpha is a migrant artist who’s been living for a long while in Calais Jungle, the notorious refugee and migrant encampment near Calais, France. He’s turned his self-built cabin into an artwork. Filmmaker Hamedine Kane, who is also an artist, follows him in the months leading up to the camp being demolished.

Shady River

Río Turbio is the name of a mining town located in Argentine Patagonia. Where women are forbidden to go down the wells because of the bad luck they would bring to it. Witchcraft stories whose well-known function is to have women banned: originally from this town, Tatiana Mazú González, wages war against it.

There is also a special focus on two very innovative filmmakers, Alia Syed and Renate Sami, along with a number of conversations and events. To see the full programme and buy tickets, visit the Open City Documentary Festival website.

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