Open City Documentary Festival

24th–30th
April 2024
across London

Opening and Closing Films of 2023 Open City Documentary Festival

We’re happy to announce the Opening and Closing films of the 13th edition of Open City Documentary Festival.

Nowhere Near by 2019 Open City Assembly winner Miko Revereza will open the festival on 6th September at Curzon Soho. We will close with Garden Pieces by Margaret Tait and Being in a Place: A Portrait of Margaret Tait by Luke Fowler the following Tuesday (12th September) at the ICA.

OPENING NIGHT

“This wandering psychogeographical journey encapsulates the seeming impossibility of returning home. I am making this film because through the transformative process of filmmaking I believe I can lift the curse from my family and bridge our disconnection through borders.” (Miko Revereza)

The work of experimental filmmaker Miko Revereza sets out to interrogate his personal history as an undocumented person who grew up in the USA – a so-called Dreamer. His new film Nowhere Near is a poetic essay film that traces his decision to leave the United States and return to the Philippines. His journey to rediscover the country of his birth means leaving his family and becoming an exile from the country where he was raised and lived for 26 years.   

Revereza’s spoken narration takes the form of a personal memoir that connects multiple locations. Diaristic fragments gathered in Los Angeles across many years and formats are interspersed with conversations with his mother that reveal the reality of what it means to be stateless. The second half of the film documents his return to Manila and the subsequent journey accompanying his grandmother to their ancestral village. Revereza finds himself an outsider here too as he is confronted by colonial legacies that operate across generations and borders. In his search to understand a family curse, connections are drawn between post 9/11 American immigration policy and the American and Spanish occupations of the Philippines. 

CLOSING NIGHT

Garden Pieces is Margaret Tait’s last film and is a vibrant live-action and hand-drawn garden portrait.

Garden Pieces is a set of three pieces: Round the Garden is literally a look right round a back garden, from a central point, repeated da capo. As a garden, it’s a place of potentiality still, but it is a place all right. Fliers is an animated piece, scratched-on, with added dyes. Grove, the longest of the three, studies and contemplates a group of trees planted maybe sixty years ago in a disused quarry. An original score by John Gray, written with that very grove in mind, will provide the music for all three pieces. The music is to have equal prominence with the picture. (Margaret Tait)

We will then conclude with Luke Fowler’s Being in a Place: A Portrait of Margaret Tait in collaboration with Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival.

Being in a Place retraces Tait’s journey, both literally and metaphorically, bringing the past and present in dialogue, considering Tait within the wider landscape of Orkney, and providing a sonic and visual exploration of the place that meant so much to her.” (Luke Fowler) 
 
Being in a Place is not a conventional biographical portrait of the late Scottish filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait (1918-1999). Rather it proposes a dialogue between one filmmaker with another filmmaker’s practice. Fowler engages with Tait’s paper and sound archive but most importantly with her native Orkney, where she lived and filmed for most of her life, using the landscape and materials of Tait’s films in order to make his own. Employing Tait’s unrealised project Heartlandscape as a “score”, Fowler’s film is structured in chapters that respond to the evocative titles in Tait’s unfinished script: Garden Pieces, Visions of Ephemerality, Several Portraits… The proposal, written for Channel 4 in 1983, was never completed. The film also draws upon newly recovered and restored film material that was discovered in the garden shed of the house Tait shared with her husband Alex Pirie. Being in a Place draws attention to Tait’s unrealised film projects, to a “fugitive archive” of rushes, sound tapes and unmade films which cannot find its home in traditional collections but continues to be preserved under the custodianship of Tait scholar Prof. Sarah Neely, the film’s co-producer. It also draws attention to the difficulties of the independent filmmaker, then and now.  

Tickets for the screening will be available to purchase after our full programme launch on 27th July.