OPEN CITY DOC FEST (04 to 09 SEP): Matt Turner’s personal highlights

This week sees the opening of the eighth edition of the Open City Documentary Festival at venues across London (04 to 09 SEP). RADIANT CIRCUS invited festival marketing manager Matt Turner to give us his personal highlights from this year’s special events programme.

The festival will showcase 30 features, 48 shorts and host 2 world premieres, 3 European premieres and 26 UK premieres across non-fiction titles from more than 30 countries.

Celebrating the art of non-fiction, Open City Documentary Festival creates an open space in London to “nurture and champion the art of creative documentary and non-fiction filmmakers”.

> What are you going to see?

Hyphen: An Evening With NANG at Regent Street Cinema (05 SEP).

Hyphen: An Evening With NANG at Regent Street Cinema (05 SEP 18:30).

Matt Turner: This event will launch the 4th issue of NANG magazine, a great publication on Asian cinema that will run for 10 issues only, each with different guest editors. This issue’s editors are Julian Ross (who is also hosting our Kazuo Hara masterclass) and Maryam Tafakory (who also screens in one of our shorts programmes), and they have curated a special programme of artists’ moving image to tie in with it. It contains some really great films, and the theme that brings them together (on the idea of “counter[ing] the narrative of hostile simplification that has embroiled the topic of migration in recent years”) is really interesting. The panel that follows with Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn, Rehana Zaman, Shama Khanna and the two curators should be one of the most engaging discussions at the festival.

In The Dark & Radio Atlas Present: Words from Inside (St Maur Prison) by René Farabet at Regent Street Cinema (06 SEP).
Words from Inside (St Maur Prison)

In The Dark & Radio Atlas Present: Words from Inside (St Maur Prison) by René Farabet at Regent Street Cinema (06 SEP 18:30).

Matt Turner: Audio is also something I am fairly new to, and something I think is really exciting. I’ve been to a few Radio Atlas events before, which involve gathering in a communal setting to hear and read translated audio documentaries from around the world, and they are really atmospheric. This one – that comes in collaboration with In The Dark, who also organise collaborative listening experiences for audiences and have been pioneering this sort of event format – will be even more special. It will feature a newly translated piece by René Farabet – a master of this form who died recently – set within the walls of St Maur Prison and featuring dialogues with inmates there. His widow, also a creative audio producer, will join for a discussion afterwards. It has the potential to be quite profound.

The Ethno-Fictions of Laura Huertas Millán ICA (07 SEP).
Laura Huertas Millán

The Ethno-Fictions of Laura Huertas Millán ICA (07 SEP 21:00).

Matt Turner: This is a programme that I am very keen on, and which I wrote about here. Laura Huertas Millán is a filmmaker / anthropologist whose work has been appearing on radars and festivals worldwide recently, but has not appeared in the UK, until now. The three films in her filmography that fall under the ‘ethnographic-fictions’ grouping can be seen together in a special presentation. All three films are pretty amazing, and as a sequential experience it will be great. After, she’ll talk with Stephanie Spray, who is also an anthropologist and filmmaker (MANAKAMANA), about her work.

Moving Parts: Short Films by Bogdan Dziworski at Regent Street Cinema (08 SEP).
Bogdan Dziworski

Moving Parts: Short Films by Bogdan Dziworski at Regent Street Cinema (08 SEP 17:45).

Matt Turner: Bogdan Dziworski is a Polish filmmaker who worked with Pawel Pawlikowski (COLD WAR) and others in Soviet era Poland. He has also made a number of surreal, smart and visually very striking short films – hybrid documentary works that look the cinematic potential of circus performers, olympic skiers and individuals undertaking various acts of motion or movement, flipping perspectives and finding new ways to frame these activities and gestures. I wasn’t familiar with his films until our programmer introduced me to them, and I’m really glad now to have seen some of them.

Nabihah Iqbal Presents: WINTER SOLDIER at ICA (08 SEP).

Nabihah Iqbal Presents: WINTER SOLDIER at ICA (08 SEP 18:00).

Matt Turner: We wanted to invite guests to select work to be presented as part of the programme this year, and as well as some of the feature filmmakers in the programme selecting shorts to play in front of their features (e.g, Maya Deren’s AT LAND before JAMILIA), filmmaker Marc Isaacs, and producer, NTS presenter, and DJ Nabihah Iqbal were invited to programme films that have informed their practice.

Nabihah chose WINTER SOLDIER, a film made by a collective of radical filmmakers (inc. Barbara Kopple) in 1972 that hasn’t screened in the UK for a long time, and will not screen again any time soon. Documenting the experiences of a number of Vietnam War veterans involved in a public enquiry, the film is a searching, searing study into the traumas of the war, and prescient viewing now, as it would have been then were more people allowed to see it. After discussing this work with the audience, Nabihah will play a set of protest music made between 1950 and 1975 upstairs in the intimate confines of the ICA’s upstairs room – and as an event, I think it sounds perfectly put together.

The Ethno-Fictions of Laura Huertas Millán ICA (07 SEP).
Laura Huertas Millán

… and that’s the meat of it.


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