Jury at new festival to be chaired by Cristi Puiu

The inaugural Open City London Documentary Festival will run June 16 - 19 at University College London and the city’s Prince Charles cinema.

Billed as a public-minded celebration of the best in documentary filmmaking, the event will screen a range of titles under various programme strands including Obsessions, Crime & Punishment, Science Fictions, World Visions and The City.

An international jury will be chaired by director Cristi Puiu and includes director Pawel Pawlikowski, Man On Wire producer Simon Chinn, film-maker Penny Woolcock and Nick Pearce, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research. Open City’s closing night awards include a grand jury prize worth £2,000.

The festival will open with Leonard Retel Helmrich’s Position Among The Stars, with Helmrich attending to lead a workshop on the use of his Steady Wings steadicam for documentaries. Other titles screening include Holocaust epic Shoah, followed by a Q&A with director Claude Lanzmann. Open City will also screen the UK premiere of Lanzmann’s The Karski Report, compiled almost entirely of footage from interviews filmed in 1978 with an officer in the Polish underground during the Second World War, not included in Shoah.

Other confirmed titles include a remastered screening of Metropolis; the UK premiere of Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone; Guilty Pleasures, an account of the global Mills & Boon romance phenomenon, including a Q&A with director Julie Moggan; Thieves By Law, about the Russian Mafia; 66 Months, about an abusive but loving relationship; The Redemption of General Butt Naked, about the search for redemption by a violent general responsible for the death of 20,000 individuals in Liberia; and Shelter In Place, a compelling take on the malpractices of the petrochemical industry in Texas, including a Q&A with producer Hannah Patterson.

“It’s great to have a new festival in London bringing together practitioners and a broad public audience,” said Pawel Pawlikowski. “At its best documentary film goes beyond the familiar and the cliché to reveal the mystery, the poetry, the ambiguity beneath.”