Open City Documentary Festival

Assembly is an annual development lab for creative documentaries organised by Open City Documentary Festival.

The programme is a project-based intensive workshop for international filmmakers working on their first or second feature. Participants from six selected projects will attend a four-day programme in London with talks, workshops and one-to-one mentoring followed by a closed pitch for £10,000 development funding. Participants will also be able to attend screenings, talks and networking events as part of Open City Documentary Festival.

The workshop programme took place online between 3rd – 8th September, and the festival took place between 9th September – 15th September. 

Assembly aims to create a space for filmmakers to develop and strengthen their projects in order to support emerging voices in non-fiction storytelling. 

Assembly was supported by UCL in 2019 and 2020.

Assembly 2020 is now closed for applications. The selected projects can be seen here.


  • Filmmakers with a feature length non-fiction project which is currently in development. Projects will be considered in any stage of development but we encourage applicants to ensure their projects are well-researched and ideally come with a teaser or raw material. Applicants should not be completed with production.
  • The programme is aimed at emerging directors with first or second time feature projects but there is no requirement in terms of previous experience in documentary filmmaking. Applicants will need to demonstrate their artistic vision for the project but may come from a non-film background.
  • It is mandatory for the director of the project to attend and there will be bursaries available for producers who wish to attend with the selected projects.
  • Applicants should have a desire to work on an international level and be open to the rigorous process of attending the programme which will cover both creative development and business development.
  • The project is open for both UK and international applicants. As the workshop will be delivered in English applicants should be able to work comfortably in English.


  • Feature length creative documentary projects. We are open to all genres, styles and stories and encourage filmmakers with formally challenging work to apply.
  • We are keen to support new perspectives in non-fiction storytelling and encourage filmmakers from countries of low audiovisual production capacity.


  • Applicants will need to supply a treatment (up to two pages) and a top sheet production budget with their completed application.
  • We encourage you to include visual materials to support your application. We will accept either a teaser (up to three minutes) or a visual references document if more suitable.
  • Applicants must hold the intellectual property rights to the project and should also be able to demonstrate access to key characters or institutions.
  • Projects will be considered without a producer attached but it is encouraged to apply with details of the team.
  • Successful applicants will be required to attend activities in London between 4th September  – 11th September 2020.
  • Assembly will cover the cost of the director’s return travel, up to eight nights of accommodation and festival accreditation during the programme. There will also be bursaries available to cover travel expenses of attending producers.


  • Applications close on 15th May 2020
  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview (in person or on skype) to discuss their projects.
  • Successful applicants will be informed by 6th July 2020

The participants of the 2019 edition can be found here, and testimonials about their experience are here. The winner of Assembly 2019 was Miko Revereza with his project Nowhere Near.

The participants for Assembly 2020 can be seen here. The winner of Assembly 2020 was Gabriela Pena for Here, The Silence is Heard.