Open City Documentary Festival starts tomorrow


Taking place over 6 days, this year’s festival will host 36 UK Premieres (21 features and 15 shorts) and events will span 13 London venues including the festival hub at Bargehouse on the Southbank; central London venues – Picturehouse Central, Regent Street Cinema, the ICA, Bertha DocHouse and The Horse Hospital; local cinemas – Hackney Picturehouse, Crouch End Picturehouse, The Castle Cinema and Genesis Cinema; and partner venues – Tate Modern, The British Library and Digital Catapult.

The festival opens on Tuesday 5 September with the UK Premiere of Ziad Kalthoum’s TASTE OF CEMENT at Picturehouse Central, an inventively 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.

The UK Premiere of Lee Ann Schmitt’s PURGE THIS LAND will close the Festival on Sunday 10 September. The film retells the history of racism and slavery in modern America through the prism of John Brown – a white, militant abolitionist – who was sentenced to death in 1859 for a failed attempt to start an armed revolution. Poignant and thought-provoking, the film spans one hundred and seventy years of American history and will screen at Regent Street Cinema.

There is also an expanded industry programme, and an entire day dedicated to VR alongside exhibitions, special events, parties and much more.

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.”

Over the next few days, we will be covering some of the festival’s official selection. For more information, please check

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.