London’s Open City Documentary Festival has unveiled the full lineup for its 2022 edition, which takes place from September 7 to 13 and includes screenings of new films, retrospectives of important non-fiction filmmakers, cross-media projects and a series of talks and workshops.
The new films screening in this year’s festival represent 25 countries and include five world premieres, two international premieres, three European premieres and 27 UK premieres. Open City also states that 59% of filmmakers presenting new work at the festival identify as women or non-binary.
The 2022 festival will open with Brazilian filmmaker Ana Vaz’s It is Night in America (pictured), a “reverse ethnography” that foregrounds the perspective of the animal inhabitants of the Brasília zoo. The closing-night film will be Tsuchimoto Noriaki’s 1975 The Shirauni Sea, which screens as part of the festival’s retrospective of the Japanese filmmaker’s work.
The new features and shorts screening in the 2022 Open City Documentary Festival are below, with loglines supplied by the festival:
All Was Good (India) — UK Premiere
Director: Teresa A. Braggs
Tracking the protests against the Indian government’s introduction of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Teresa A. Braggs’ first-person footage from the frontline of the movement captures the challenges in building solidarity on the street and in living rooms.
Antonia Valencia (Ecuador) — UK Premiere
Director: Daniela Delgado Viteri
An imaginary dialogue with a football player (Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia, a former defender with Manchester United) unfolds as written text over slightly underexposed footage of men playing football and bathing on a beach in San Jacinto, Ecuador.
Anyox (Canada) — UK Premiere
Directors: Jessica Johnson, Ryan Ermacora
Strikingly shot in 35mm and 65mm large-format cinematography, Anyoxtells the story of the small Canadian company town of the same name, which was abandoned by the Granby Consolidated Mining Company in 1935.
Argileak (Spain) — International Premiere
Director: Patxi Burillo
A nocturnal pilgrimage through the woods near Ezkio in northern Spain revisits the history of the apparitions of the Virgin in the 1930s that drew thousands from all over Spain to this small Guipuzcoan village.
Baltimore (U.S.) — European Premiere
Director: Margaret Rorison
This personal observational study of the city of Baltimore allows filmmaker Margaret Rorison to present an elegy to this post-industrial urban landscape, with a richness of architectural styles documented.
Camouflage (Argentina) — UK Premiere
Director: Jonathan Perel
Taking as its site of investigation a detention centre of the military dictatorship, Campo de Mayo, Camouflage is a collaboration between filmmaker Jonathan Perel and the Argentinian writer Félix Bruzzone, whose mother was interned and disappeared from the camp.
Cielo Abierto / Mar Abierto / Suelo Abierto (Ecuador) — European Premiere
Directors: Libertad Gills, Martín Baus
From a point of view/listening that is both animal and elemental, between the air, the ocean and the sand, relationships emerge between humans, birds and marine life.
Come on Pilgrim (UK) — World Premiere
Director: Marcy Saude
English settler genocide and the British colonial project are revealed in this film from American filmmaker Marcy Saude. Plymouth is central to the film, as a key site implicated in the slave trade and other imperialist projects.
Configurations (Germany/UK) — UK Premiere
Director: James Edmonds
An abstract diary film, the camera in continuous movement — searching for motifs and patterns in the reflections of the light, the swirling waters, the shadows between the trees, in interior and exterior spaces, amongst humans and animals.
Constant (Germany/UK) — UK Premiere
Directors: Sahsa Litvintseva, Beny Wagner
This essay film interrogates moments of change within the history of measurement standardization, exploring how systems of measurement radically alter our lived experience of the world.
The Demands of Ordinary Devotion (Belgium/Italy) — UK Premiere
Director: Eva Giolo
An associative montage, guided by shape, color and sound, of images that suggest motherhood and making: a breast pump expressing milk, a wicker artisan, a pregnant belly, a young woman winding a Bolex camera.
Denim Sky (UK/Lithuania) — UK Premiere
Director: Rosalind Nashashibi
A dreamy exploration of alternative community structures, the non-nuclear family and non-linear time, Denim Sky is concerned with love, intimacy and human relationships.
An Excavation (UK) — UK Premiere
Director: Maeve Brennan
Part of a multidisciplinary project that studies the international traffic of looted antiquities, this film focuses on a series of 4th-century BCE Italian vases discovered in a trove of seized crates in 2014.
Fire Spells (UK)
Director: Tom Chick
Fire Spells follows artist, filmmaker, academic, and writer Judith Noble as she makes protection fire spells for the filmmaker. The film is both a portrait of Judith and her views on magical practice, and a ritual film itself.
Foragers (Palestine) — UK Premiere
Director: Jumana Manna
This new film from Palestinian artist Jumana Manna takes as its focus Palestinian resilience to Israeli legislation that prevents the foraging of the wild edible plants akkoub and za’atar.
Hors-Titre (France) — UK Premiere
Director: Wiame Haddad
This silent 4-minute short is filmed entirely on Super 8 and describes the details that build a life. All the shots take place within a quiet domestic setting that we are led to believe is an October evening in Paris, 1961.
If I Could Wish for Something (Belgium/France/Mexico/Norway) — UK Premiere
Director: Dora Garcia
This film traces recent mass-participation feminist actions in Mexico City which have sought to dismantle the patriarchal violence of the state and imagine a radical future in its place.
I’ll Be Back! (UK) — World Premiere
Director: Hope Strickland
Filmed in archives and museums across the UK, I’ll Be Back! explores a series of collections containing objects of colonial violence.
Ijen/London (UK) — UK Premiere
Director: Ben Rivers
The latest film from Ben Rivers, whose 16mm films often blend speculative fiction and documentary, imagining alternative narratives, ways of worldmaking and our relationship to the wilderness, depicts a post-apocalyptic landscape devoid of human presence, but not of life.
It is Night in America (Italy/Brazil/France) — UK Premiere
Director: Ana Vaz
Filmed in the zoo of Brasília, home to hundreds of species rescued in the city (giant anteaters, maned wolves, owls, wood foxes, capybaras, caracaras, etc.), It is Night in America is a reverse ethnography that foregrounds the non-human perspective of animals.
Jet Lag (Switzerland/Austria) — UK Premiere
Director: Zheng Lu Xinyuan
Emerging from the context of the recent global pandemic, this enigmatic essay film from Zheng Lu Xinyuan centers on the filmmaker’s initial lockdown in Austria and ensuing journey back to China.
Lungta (Ecuador/Mexico) — UK Premiere
Director: Alexandra Cuesta
Alexandra Cuesta repurposes a few seconds of footage of a horse in a field that she had shot years before but never used in this analog composition of image and sound that emphasizes its own materiality.
The Making of Crime Scenes (Taiwan) — UK Premiere
Director: Che-Yu Hsu
Forensic scanning software is used as a way to reconstruct the murder scene of writer Henry Lu. Set against this is testimony from Wu Dun, a wuxia film producer and member of the United Bamboo Gang.
Maria Schneider, 1983 (France) — UK Premiere
Director: Elisabeth Subrin
The starting point for Elisabeth Subrin’s Maria Schneider, 1983 is a 1980s TV interview with the French actress that Subrin encountered whilst developing a feature-length biopic about Schneider.
Miniatures (UK) — World Premiere
Director: Morgan Quaintance
The “Miniatures” are an ongoing series of compact films Morgan Quaintance is continually producing. These short shorts are all under four minutes long, and allow Quaintance to explore a single formal or conceptual idea.
The Miracle on George Green (UK) — UK Premiere
Director: Onyeka Igwe
The film takes as its focus a campaign to save an old chestnut tree in Wanstead under threat due to the construction of the M11 link road in the early 1990s, drawing on a range of different archival sources.
Moune-Ô (Belgium/French Guiana/France) — UK Premiere
Director: Maxime Jean-Baptiste
Largely made using archival material shot on a VHS camcorder in 1990s French Guiana, this film allows for the reworking and reclaiming of a specific moment: a celebration after the screening of the film Jean Galmot, aventurier.
Director: Ruth Beckermann
Ruth Beckermann’s feature uses the anonymously authored 1906 novel Josefine Mutzenbacher or The Story of a Viennese Whore as a starting point to grapple with male sexuality.
Director: Maryam Tafakory
Nazarbazi (The Play of Glances) is a film about love and desire in Iranian cinema, where depictions of intimacy and touch between women and men are prohibited.
Offing (Germany) — UK Premiere
Director: Oraib Toukam
Recorded online in the aftermath of the 2021 war in Gaza, Offing features artist Salman Nawati’s testimony describing his attempts to protect his daughters from seeing the war unfolding around them.
Paraíso (Spain) — UK Premiere
Directors: Maddi Barber, Marina Lameiro
Paraíso proposes a dialogue with and between the inhabitants of the woods around Lakabe, both human and non-human.
Self-Portrait: Fairy Tale in 47km (China) — UK Premiere
Director: Zhang Mengqi
Filmmaker Zhang Mengqi focuses upon her collaborative design process with a group of young local girls as they set out to create and build a new cultural centre within the village, to be named The Blue House.
Silence Along the River (Iraq) — UK Premiere
Director: Sherko Abbas
This film consists of a single sequence drawn from the personal archives of the filmmaker’s father, a Kurdish freedom fighter and cameraman, documenting a group of soldiers on an attack mission in northern Iraq in 1985.
The Sparrow Dream (U.S./Germany) — World Premiere
Director: Robert Beavers
Robert Beavers returns to locations in Berlin and Massachusetts that have been significant to him, documenting how they have changed and influenced his domestic and artistic life.
…then love is the name (UK) — World Premiere
Director: Niki Kohandel
An ode to the bonds that are formed by students by weaving together 16mm footage from the 2021 anti-racist occupation of the Slade with scenes from the install of the art school’s class of 2020 degree show.
Through a Shimmering Prism, We Made a Way (UK) — UK Premiere
Director: Rhea Storr
Taking as its starting point empty carnival and parade routes in London, UK and Nassau, Bahamas, this film reflects on progress, the architectural histories of colonialism and the female body in public space.
Under the Sky Shelter (Chile) — UK Premiere
Director: Diego Acosta
Under Diego Acosta’s observation, Don Cucho sets out for new pastures with his herd in tow as he does each year, and as his Andean predecessors have done for centuries before him.
Vientos de Chanduy (Ecuador) — International Premiere
Director: Mario Rodríguez Dávila
A brother and a sister perform rituals of illness and passing in a series of haunting tableaux shot in Chanduy, in coastal Ecuador.
What Rules the Invisible (U.S.) — European Premiere
Director: Tiffany Sia
Artist Tiffany Sia reworks a body of archival travelogue shot by amateurs in Hong Kong across the 20th century to create a portrait of a place as seen by outsiders.
Xaraasi Xanne (Crossing Voices) (France/Mali) — UK Premiere
Directors: Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré
This film focuses upon the extraordinary life story of Bouba Touré, an activist and photographer who was one of the founding members of the radical Malian farming cooperative Somankidi Coura that formed in Paris in 1977.