Ready to open our eyes and minds with another week of insightful and innovative documentary films, talks and workshops, Open City Docs Fest returns to University College London from 17-22 June.
While it has more than earned its title as London’s global documentary film festival, one of the great appeals of Open City Docs Fest is its intimacy, shunning the multiplex to ensure each screening is ‘live’ with director Q&As, introductions and discussion. Plus they have a cinema tent. Transforming Bloomsbury’s Torrington Square by UCL into the Festival Village, OCDF serves up a veritable smorgasbord of films along with street food and bars for that alfresco accompaniment.
Opening the festival with a gala screening, the European premiere of Edward Owles’ The Auction House: A Tale of Two Brothers follows the fascinating story of the oldest auction house in India. This year’s closer is the UK premiere of Askold Kurov’s heartbreaking and shocking story of Russia’s LGBTQ youth as they fought back against President Putin’s anti-homosexual bill in the online project, Children 404.
This year’s programme places a heavy focus on Middle Eastern cinema with a masterclass with Israeli filmmaker Avi Mograbi alongside a retrospective of his work and a live audio visual performance and a strand dedicated to celebrating contemporary Iranian documentaries, Cinemadoosti: Documenting Iran, cinemadoosti being the Persian word for cinephilia.
With a great cohort of female directors this year, some of our standout highlights include Berit Madsen’s Sepideh (21 June), the tender and uplifting story of a young Iranian girl who wants to be an astronaut; Hilla Medalia’s Web Junkie (22 June), following the startling emerging health threat in China – internet addiction and the government treatment centres set up to ‘cure’ the gaming obsessed teenagers and Stephanie Spray’s Manakamana (21 June), filmed entirely in the cable car that connects an ancient mountaintop temple to the jungle in Nepal.
Gael Gacia Bernal returns in front and behind the camera in the London premiere of Who is Dayani Cristal?, exploring the plight of Mexican immigrants entering the USA from Mexico amidst the attempts to identify the human remains found in Arizona’s Sonora Desert. While over at partner venue, the ICA, the much anticipated Finding Vivian Maier (20 June), chronicling the frankly remarkable and rarely heard story of the little known photographer whose stunning archive of 100,000 undeveloped films were found in a Chicago auction house.
Other standout strands include an exploration of the burgeoning online world in Digital Natives, a discussion of the limits of science and our knowledge in Science Friction and an inspiring selection of films introducing the people who are determined to make a change and take control of their lives in Just Society.
This year’s Grand Jury will be chaired by famed Polish director, Pawel Pawlikowski, who will preside over the Festival’s closing awards: Best UK Film, Emerging International Filmmaker Award and the Grand Jury Award.
Boasting over 80 screenings all with Q&As, 30 London premieres and 21 UK premieres plus panel events and workshops, this year’s programme is set to provoke debate, analysis and discussion – just what documentary filmmaking is about.
Browse the full Open City Docs Fest programme online: www.opencitydocsfest.com
Festival passes are £85 (£70 conc) with day passes available for £25 (£20 conc). Tickets can be purchased online.
Open City Docs Fest takes place from 17-22 June at various venues around London with the central festival hub, Open City Village, based in Bloomsbury’s Torrington Square by University College London.
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