Occupied City

Source: Cannes International Film Festival

‘Occupied City’

mk2 Films has moved in on Steve McQueen’s Occupied City and is kicking off international sales at the AFM. The documentary is about the realities of life under the Nazi occupation in Amsterdam.

The film debuted as a Special Screening at Cannes in May before playing at Telluride, New York Film Festival and BFI London and will next screen in Europe at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

The Netherlands-UK-US co-production already has local distributors on board. A24 will release the film in North America on Christmas Day, September Film will release in the Netherlands in November and Modern has snapped up distribution rights for UK-Ireland. mk2 is handling sales for the rest of the world.

McQueen’s untraditional approach to documentary blends two interlocking portraits : a door-to-door excavation of the Nazi occupation during the 1940s that still haunts his adopted city and a vivid journey through the last few years of pandemic and protest.

The narration is written by filmmaker and historian Bianca Stigter whose book Atlas of an Occupied City (Amsterdam 1940-1945) informed the film. Using no archival footage, the film instead juxtaposes a voiceover recounting the unthinkable horrors of history with modern day images of daily life in the same places the barbarity occurred for “a poetic, dreamlike space where unthinkable history and hope for a new future co-exist.”

Steve McQueen and Bianca Stigter produced along with McQueen’s Lammas Park producer Anna Smith Tenser and Family Affair Films’ Floor Onrust. The film was financed and executive produced by A24, Film4 and Regency Enterprises, and made possible with the financial support of The Netherlands Film Fund and The Netherlands Production Incentive.