Open City Docs Fest | BEV Recommends

Open City Docs Fest returns with over 15 titles by women directors

Open City Docs Fest | 17-22 June 2014

Open City Docs Festival returns to London this year with another shape-shifting, boundary-pushing programme of documentary films from across the globe. We were excited to learn that the programme is comprised of 15+ titles with women filmmakers at the helm. From tales of inter-generational friendship and adolescent revolution, to cinematic homages to filmmaking forms, we explore the programme of films and identify those we’re most excited about over at Birds Eye View HQ. We’ll be running a ticket competition in collaboration with Open City for one of the films on our round-up below. Follow us on Twitter for your chance to win…

Enduring Friendships

Friendship and sociability tie together a series of films on this year’s Open City Docs festival programme with an ever-reassuring bind.  Uninhibited hearts and smiles front the life-long companionships in Stream of Love; Spray and Velez’s shared observations in Manakamana reveal a worldly perspective forged through friendship; and Jerry & Me tells of a relationship that never quite was.

Stream Of Love

Dir: Ágnes Sós | 2013 | Hungary

We cocoon ourselves in myths of difference – few less questioned than the fairytale that sex was invented in the 1960s. In Ágnes Sós’s touching film, a group of octogenarian Transylvanian villagers tell us how it was, and is, for them. Her straight-talking, giggling, ribald characters open their hearts and their lives to us, reminding us that, in some ways at least, we never really grow old. “I’ve been mad for love and kissing all my life”, says one elderly dame, “I still am.” 21 June @ 8.30 | BOOK


Dir: Stephanie Spray/Pacho Velez | 2013 | Nepal/United States

The latest work to emerge from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab is a startling documentary, filmed entirely inside the narrow confines of a cable car transporting villagers to an ancient mountaintop temple high above a jungle in Nepal.  Through shared conversations, anecdotes, observations about the surrounding landscape, and even silence, a detailed story about history, tradition and change emerges. June 21 @ 8.30 | BOOK 

Jerry and Me

Dir: Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa | 2012 | Iran/USA

In this intimate first-person doc, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa remembers her youth growing up in Iran before she moved to the States. She should have nothing in common with American actor and comedian Jerry Lewis, but somehow she remembers her childhood as synonymous with his comedy career. Using clips from Jerry Lewis’ films, Saeed-Vafa  tells a larger story about cinema culture in Iran before the revolution. June 21 @ 2.00 | BOOK

Being Young

Youth and contemporary adolescene is another fascinating strand threading its way through this year’s programme at Open City. Web Junkie takes a close look at the systematic break-down of sociability amongst China’s youth as they confront the realities of web addiction. Meanwhile, Sephideh follows the aspirations of a young Iranian who dreams of becoming an astronaut.

Web Junkie

Dir: Hilla Medalia/Shosh Shlam | 2013  | Israel/USA

China is one of the first countries in the world to label Internet addiction a clinical disorder with authorities now considering it a major health threat to the nation’s youth. As a response, the Chinese Government have created treatment centres to deprogramme and cure gaming obsessed teenagers of their online addictions. Web Junkie investigates life inside one such centre. June 22 @ 3.30 | BOOK


Dir: Berit Madsen | 2014 | Denmark/Germany/Iran/Norway/Sweden

Sepideh wants to be an astronaut. She writes letters to Einstein, and her science teacher encourages her to take her hobby more seriously. Tenderly observed and beautifully shot through with epic night sky scenes, this is a coming of age story of a teenage Iranian that is uplifting and inspiring.  June 21 @ 9.30 | BOOK

Reflections on Conflict

Two filmmakers in the programme share the intention to reflect upon the consequences of war and conflict, both socially and globally, with poignantly varied approaches to how this reflection takes form. Georgia & Sophia Scott’s In The Shadow of a War explores the transgenerational effects of the war in Bosnia and My Stolen Revolution, by filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani, reflects upon the Green Revolution of 2009–10 in Iran.

In The Shadow of War

Dir: Georgia & Sophia Scott | 2014 | Bosnia & Herzegovina/UK

Four young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina struggle to survive a war which ended 18 years ago. Like thousands of other children born at the end of the war in Bosnia, Ilija, Ante, Magdalena and Elvis have grown up in orphanages or live with parents suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder. The film follows them as they grapple with turning 18 – coming to terms with how they were conceived, attempting to rebuild broken relationships and trying to heal mental and physical scars.  June 21 @ 2.30PM | BOOK

My Stolen Revolution

Dir: Nahid Persson Sarvestani | 2013 |  Iran/Sweden

In the aftermath of the Green Revolution of 2009–10, diasporic filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani turns the camera on herself and tries to understand the thirty-odd years that have passed since she fled revolutionary Iran. She goes in search of her old activist friends whom she has not seen since. The film culminates in an emotional reunion between the friends.  June 20 @ 6.00 | BOOK

British Talents

Two bright lights of British filmmaking appear in this year’s Open City programme. Multi-award winning filmmaker Penny Woolcock is reunited with former gang member Dylan Duffus (1 Day, One Mile Away) to explore the criminal subculture of the dog fighting world and man’s conflicted relationship with dogs. Juliet Brown looks outside of the UK to examine the ramifications of the USA’s worst man-made natural disaster.

Going to the Dogs

Dir: Penny Woolcock | 2014 | UK

Demonised by the media, certain breeds of dog are seen as ‘status symbols’, and some are also trained to fight. Dog fighting has, in recent years, been identified by the police and RSPCA as a growing problem in inner-city areas. In this challenging film Penny Woolcock engages with those involved in dog fighting, meets academics and historians to discuss blood sports in general and questions man’s treatment of animals as commodities. June 22 @ 4.00 | BOOK


Dir: Juliet Brown | 2014 | UK

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the blaze claimed the lives of 11 workers and the uncapped well gushed for 87 days, pouring an estimated 4.2 million barrels of oil into the sea. The accident occurred 100 miles from Grand Isle, the last inhabited barrier island off the coast of Louisiana. Taking a look inside the island community, Juliet Brown reveals the devastating repercussions of the worst man-made environmental disaster in US history. June 21 @ 5.00 | BOOK

Celebrating Form

From a celebration of Kodak’s now discontinued Kodachrome (its oldest colour film stock) to a co-curated programme of 16mm films that occupy the spaces between a photograph, a document and a film, and celebrate the medium – Open City has much to offer those fascinated by filmmaking forms. We’re delighed that Lucy Harris, whose 2012 work Crossing Points will screen at The Birds Eye View Canary Wharf Screen in association with Art on The Underground, will be showcasing her individual and collaborative work with David Leister in a co-presented programme with London Short Film Festival: Through a Lens Darkly.


Dir: Collectif k-14 | 2012 | Belgium

Saddened by the announcement of Kodak’s plans to retire Kodachrome, its oldest colour film stock, a group of small gauge film enthusiasts band together to shoot their last ever K-14 film. Bolex in hand, the friends set out on a journey to Parsons, Kansas, home to the world’s last operational processing lab. The resulting film is an intimate self-portrait of four friends with a shared passion, and a quiet hymn to a dying industry. June 21 @ 3.00 | BOOK

Through a Lens Darkly

Dir: Lucy Harris/David Leister | 2014 | UK

The 16mm films in this programme occupy the spaces between a photograph, a document and a film, and celebrate this medium. They explore and document both exterior and interior landscapes, personal and cultural histories, where the film becomes a blend of experience and observation. These films hover on the edge of the frame, using multiple film techniques to present an altered perspective vision of our surroundings. June 21 @ 6.30 | BOOK

More Info

Open City Docs Fest runs from the 17-22 June, 2014
You can watch the full festival trailer HERE


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