Open City Documentary Festival
As part of the 2017 Open City Documentary Festival in London there will be several films focusing on refugees and migration.
The UK Premiere of Taste of Cement will take place on the opening night of the festival at Picturehouse Central on Tuesday, September 5th. This film draws the portrait of workers in exile, crafting an empathetic encounter with people who have lost their past and their future, locked in the recurring present. Ziad Kalthoum creates a poetic essay documentary about Syrian construction workers building new skyscrapers in Beirut. As they help rebuild ruined neighbourhoods in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war, their own houses at home are being shelled. With exquisite framing and dreamlike narrative detours Taste of Cement is a daring, imaginative and visually challenging cinematic work.
Also dealing with exile and war, Maria Kourkouta and Niki Giannari’s minimalist Spectres are Haunting Europe will screen at Regent Street Cinema on Saturday, September 9th. The film looks at the Idomeni refugee camp on the border of Greece and Macedonia that housed over 8,000 people from the Middle East who were trying to cross the border into Europe. When Greek police closed the camp in 2016, the refugees resisted and blocked a railway line used to deliver goods into the country. The poetic commentary portrays a bleak portrait of a place where endless lines of refugees try to preserve the final remnants of their individual freedoms.
Atelier de Conversation (2017) by Bernhard Braunstein, showing at Regent Street Cinema, on Thursday, September 7th shows a group of diverse individuals in Paris from asylum seekers to lawyers to students participating in French lessons. Despite their cultural differences and linguistic limitations, the group find in the small gestures and subtle looks between the words, a way towards understanding. Minimalist in form, rigorous in its aesthetic yet surprisingly tender and humane, with great warmth and humour, Braunstein’s film reveals those elusive moments where communication moves beyond the spoken word whilst depicting an overall theme of identity.