Sunday, 24 June 2012

Open City Docs Fest: Thus Far.. Join us for Final Day Films!

 Your Story Told through Film, MyStreet Screening, films made by MyStreet Photo: Gloria 
Its our last day!  Open City is privileged to have an engaged, enquiring and curious audience, plunging head first into new worlds. Yesterday's highlights included Punk In Africa which sold out to all of London's old-school scene, absolutely delighting Director Keith Jones. Evolution of Violence on Guatemalan daily brutalities was standing room only. Mark Le Fanu with the Guardian and Sight and Sound had high praise for the Wajda School in Warsaw of three shorts including Piotr Berna's Papparazzi. Aesthetic Queeries was led by our producer and programmer (with a knack for entendre) in a screening of queer lives over at the ICA.
Director Steven Maing and Producer Trina Roderiguez of High Tech, Low Life Q&A
There have been great discussions, humble, intelligent and humourous by turns and I've learned a hell of a lot. I was lucky to drop in on Steve and Trina of High Tech, Low Life dealing with great Qs with great New York eloquence in response to their screening, which deals with the amorphous and ill-defined area of Chinese censorship inter-generationally. Through the eyes of two bloggers who connive (via blogging in the voice of a cat to evade authority) they reach out to places where actual legal terms don't seem to be known by anyone. They made this film over 4 years dealing with over 500 hours of footage (with 100 generated by the bloggers). China under brief scrutiny, appears a adolescent conundrum of post-modern, post-communist ideological practice.

The programming this year, by a ceaseless Mr Oliver Wright has been so excellent that rounds of re-screening have been requested on our final day! Most films on this final day at Open City Docs Fest are still bookable online and in person at our Box Office on Torrington Place WC1E 6EQ. All films are on THIS PAGE. Do it now before you kick yourself for having slept through Open City in 2012.

Some films to check out, Gwanelle Gobe's 'This Space Available' looks at how advertising permeates our public spaces - and what can we do do de-saturate our streets of images and adverts that sell us stuff? She examines the arguments and approaches of street artists, activists and politicians around the world who are fighting to “reclaim the streets” from advertisers. Join in and reserve your space here.
Eggs For Later is a personal documentary about 
Marieke Schellart, the director who is in her mid 30s and wants to have children, though not having found the right guy yet. This is about fertility technology and perhaps, a meditation of what time can mean. Your Eggs for Later are here.

Living a stone's throw from London's first market street to be lit by electricity in 1880, Brixton's Electric Avenue, its easy to forget how this revoluntionised  every aspect of modern life. Jerome le Maire's doc, Tea or Electricity tells the epic story of an isolated village in the Moroccan High atlas going through this process over three years and the changes it makes in the face of modernity. Along electric lines, Chris Paine's Revenge of The Electric Car charts the race of General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla Motors to make the electric car. Thought provoking in how our desire for autonomy might deal with its costs.

Volker Sattel's Under Control has its London Premiere, giving us a tour of Germany's nuclear power plants and the story of the German atomic age. It explores the convoluted and site specific islands of growth and its prisms of places and sites. Get your tickets here.

The Open City Bar, a popular destination for the discerning doc fest goer  Photo: Gloria Lin

Agonizing over film schedule in front of The ARUP cinema in the Festival Hub Photo: Gloria Lin
A Preview of the feature documentary McCullin will be closing the Gala tomorrow at 6pm. I was moved by the rough cut, and unexpectedly unsettled again upon each viewing when I working on it as a production manager earlier this year. The sheer power of Don McCullin's photographs carry an intensity and format much copied now. I was 19 when I arrived at his work as an Eat Asian politics student through Horst Faas, the Magnum coterie of Capa, Riboud and Larry Burrows etc. Though, with McCullin, the ethics, feelings and cost of documenting human conflict resonated differently, perhaps on a biblical level through certain images.
This is a doc which is very straightforward. Covering his early years in deprived London, shot on 16mm with natural light, Alex Baranowski, fresh from a double Olivier award nomination scored the film, a brilliant dude in all senses of the word creates something haunting in accompanying the images.  A testimony carried by a reflection; the things  he as saw as a man - and the things he saw as a photographer.

 The film examines the golden era of photo-essays and adventurous journalism on the Sunday Times, Don McCullin had a creative freedom backed by Sir Harold Evans of the Times to bring back the true costs of conflict of Cyprus, Vietnam, Cambodia, later prevented by Murdoch's ascension in media. McCullin would travel into the field with twenty rolls of film only, making each frame count. It meant something deeper, without the modern luxury of disposable digital frames. Something of the preciousness of decisions made at split second moments, as unrepeatable as in life.
 McCullin raises debate around the idea of a 'war' photographer and the issues of censorship, picture editing and interference present in so much of our media today. Within the context of the ongoing Levenson inquiry, it brings up the same themes and characters of Fleet Street in questioning the true freedom of our press.
[Please note MuCullin has now SOLD OUT]

There might be one more post from me after this, when you've joined us for a beer or three by the Cinema Tent. Hope to see you tomorrow.

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