News: Open City Documentary Festival 2021 – Announcing our New Festival Director


We are happy to announce the appointment of María Palacios Cruz as our incoming Festival Director. Maria will take up the position in April and begin working alongside the rest of the team to deliver the 2021 edition.

María Palacios Cruz is a film curator, writer and educator. Before joining Open City Docs, she led the Film Curating course at Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola in San Sebastian (Spain), which she also helped to conceive. She was Deputy Director of LUX, the UK agency for artists’ moving image, from 2015 to 2020, and a member of the selection committee for Punto de Vista, Spain’s leading festival for non-fiction cinema, from 2017-2021. She has been a programmer for the Courtisane Festival since 2008 and was its Director between 2010 and 2012. María has worked for many years as an independent curator for film festivals and cultural institutions worldwide. She writes regularly on artists’ moving image and avant-garde cinema, and is a co-founder of The Visible Press. She edited the anthology of writings by British artist Lis Rhodes Telling Invents Told (2019), and co-edited Meditaciones sobre el presente: Ute Aurand, Helga Fanderl, Jeannette Muñoz, Renate Sami (2020) and Living on air: the films and words of Sandra Lahire (2021).

“As a long-time admirer of the excellent programming at Open City Docs, I am honoured to join the team as Festival Director. Open City Docs has just celebrated its 10th edition and I look forward to the challenge of shepherding the festival at this key moment in its development. 

“I believe Open City Docs should continue to showcase and nurture experimentation within the documentary field. Non-fiction cinema is at the vanguard of contemporary filmmaking: challenging established conventions and continuously expanding cinematic language. It also reflects on its relationship to reality and to truth, inviting us to look and think anew, to be in the world and with the world.

“Cinema is a social art and a festival provides the ideal context for dialogue and encounter. A festival is where we come together as a community: audience and filmmakers, industry and academia, discourse and practice. Now, more than ever, we need spaces – such as Open City Docs – to be together, to exchange and learn from one another, and to look after one another.”

– María Palacios Cruz

“We are delighted to announce María Palacios Cruz as the new Festival Director for Open City Documentary Festival. She brings with her a deep knowledge of non-fiction cinema, along with a truly international perspective and a wealth of experience and connections. We are sure that the experience she will bring to us from her work with LUX, Courtisane and Punto de Vista will enhance and enrich our offering to both industry and public audiences. 

“María shares our expansive understanding of non-fiction cinema and her vision, critical rigour and exemplary curatorial practice – which we have long admired – will prove invaluable as she guides the festival into its second decade”.

– Michael Stewart, Founding Director