Opening and Closing Films of 2024 Open City Documentary Festival

We’re happy to announce the Opening and Closing films of the 14th edition of Open City Documentary Festival.

Opening Night: Sunless Haven
Wednesday 24 April, ICA. 6.30pm

Animating a host of dispersed fragments from historical documents to architectural remnants and the river, Sunless Haven looks at the docklands as a resonant chamber connecting desperate worlds.” (George Clark) 
Clark worked with historian Simeon Koole, sound artist Jol Thoms and performance artist Yarli Allison to imagine the experiences in, around and through the London Docklands at the turn of the 20th century. “Woven into the film are attempts to understand the docklands as a meeting place between different ecologies, enclosures and epochs, as a point of entanglement of the city and world. The film looks at ways to describe and embody these enmeshed histories from the legacy of police persecution of seaman boarding houses and Indian dockworkers know as lascars to the traces of early Chinatown in Limehouse and the experiences of London by Ayahs and Amahs, predominantly Chinese or Indian nannies brought back from the colonies and abandoned in the city after the voyage.” (George Clark) 
The premiere of Sunless Haven (George Clark, 2024) will be accompanied with a selection of 35mm reels from Clark’s ongoing project Eyemo Rolls – an expanding constellation of over 200 films shot in camera since 2011 – and works by other artists. Evoking the concept of “Flowing Water Parallelisms” in Chinese poetry, this special screening curated by George Clark draws together works connected to ideas of water and liquid bodies as way to think about worlds within worlds at various border and transient zones. 
Followed by a conversation with George Clark 

Closing Night: Leila and the Wolves 
Tuesday 30 April, ICA, 6.30pm
It took Heiny Srour six years to make Leila and the Wolves, a film that reveals a hidden past of women’s struggle in Palestine and Lebanon in an attempt to rewrite the history of the region from a feminist point of view. As John Akomfrah has written, Leila and the Wolves “weaves a rich tableau of history, folklore, myth and archival material.” The film is structured in a series of sketches, each of which features the same actors. The female protagonist (Nabila Zeitoni) is a modern Lebanese woman living in London, where she is staging a photography exhibition in which women are the unsung heroines and martyrs of political conflict. She time travels through the 1900s to the 1980s, wandering through real and imaginary landscapes of Lebanon and Palestine. In an interview from 2020, the filmmaker says: “Nowadays, Leila and the Wolves is travelling the world again, more relevant than ever; my unconscious and the collective unconscious of the women of the Middle East spoke together throughout the extreme conditions of making this film.” 
On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, we are honoured to close the 2024 edition of Open City Documentary Festival with a new digital restoration of Leila and the Wolves, co-presented with Cinenova.

Cinenova is a volunteer-run organisation preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. Leila and the Wolves was originally distributed in the UK by Cinema of Women, one of Cinenova’s predecessor organisations.  
In collaboration with Cinenova 
With an introduction by Nadia Yahlom (Sarha Collective)