Open City Doc Fest 2020 moves online; Assembly project selections revealed

The 10th edition of the London-set Open City Documentary Festival will move online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Held Sept. 9 to 15, the festival will present a selection of ...
July 22, 2020

The 10th edition of the London-set Open City Documentary Festival will move online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held Sept. 9 to 15, the festival will present a selection of work across 24 film events available to UK audiences as video-on-demand rentals with windowed access available during the festival period.

Filmmaker Q&As will be included in the rental packages alongside complementary shorts selected by filmmakers or the festival programming team.

A number of additional special events will also take place online. Organizers say further details will be announced in the future.

The industry program will be streamed live online during the week of the festival, and will be free to access worldwide. It will feature more than 20 events involving non-fiction practitioners working across film, audio and cross-media.

Open City Doc Fest’s regular Expanded Realities program has also been adapted for a digital format, with a number of selected and commissioned interactive projects accessible via “in-browser experiences.” These will also be free to access worldwide.

The 2020 event will have four film competitions, all with cash prizes. Feature films will compete for the Open City Award and the Emerging Filmmaker Award. Shorts will be recognized through the UK Short Award and the International Short Award, which is new for this year.

The full program will be announced on Aug. 11.

Festival director Chloe Trayner said in a statement: “As a festival, bringing people together has always been at the heart of our activity. Although our understanding of what that means has shifted during the ongoing global pandemic, we’re hopeful that we can still create an open space with our new digital iteration for people to gather and celebrate the art of non-fiction together.”

In other news, Open City Documentary Festival have announced the participants for the second edition of Assembly, a development lab for creative feature documentaries.

Projects selected are: Ghost Wives (pictured; UK), directed by Eva Weber, about a Shanghai-based journalist who sets out to investigate the case of a missing woman in China’s North; Here, the Silence is Heard (Chile), directed by Gabriela Pena and produced by Picho García, in which the filmmaker inhabits the house her grandparents were forced to abandon in exile during the military dictatorship; and Brittany Shyne’s Seeds (U.S.), a lyrical black and white portrait of a centennial African-American farm in Thomasville, Georgia.

Additional films include The Leopard (Germany/Lebanon), from director Ali El-Darsa and producer Vincent Förster, a reflection on a father and two divided cities, Berlin and Beirut; The Shadow Scholars (UK/Kenya/U.S.), from director Eloise King and producer Riel Roch-Decter, about a group of educated Kenyans who offer a window into the US$1 billion ‘Fake Essay’ industry; and Untitled Hydebank Film (UK) from director Ross McClean and producer Bronte Stahl, in which a man released from prison finds a newfound passion for working with sheep in Northern Ireland.

The lab, taking place online in September, is a project-based intensive workshop for international filmmakers working on their first or second feature.

Participants from the six selected projects will attend a six-day online program (Sept. 3 to 8) that will include talks, workshops and one-to-one mentoring.

During the program, one of the six projects selected for Assembly will be awarded £10,000 (US$12,708) in development funding for their feature film, following a closed pitch.

Instead of the travel and accommodation offer that is provided as part of the in-person version of the lab, all selected projects for this online edition will receive a participation fee.

The selected projects for Assembly were drawn from a pool of applications originating from 59 different countries.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.