Preview: Open City Docs Fest 2013

on Thursday, June 13, 2013
Open City Docs Fest (London, 20-23 June '13) // Words: Saam Das

One of London's finest film festivals returns again for its 2013 edition shortly, as the Open City Docs Fest begins next Thursday across multiple London venues. This is no ordinary film festival though, its focus on documentaries not simply saved for the big screen but indulged in live music, comedy, theatre, and even guided walks. Check out some of our highlights from this year's programme below.

We were impressed by last year's offerings, which included the musical adventure 'Mission To Lars' as well as Oscar-winning 'Undefeated', along with a whole host of other offerings (as you can read in our 2012 review). Here are a selection of highlights that we think are worth catching, and with tickets as low as £6 (and some free events), there shouldn't be too much stopping from experiencing Open City Docs Fest 2013.

'12 O'Clock Boys'

(Thurs 20th, 19.00. Bloomsbury Theatre)

The Opening Gala for this year's Open City Docs Fest is the UK premiere of '12 O'Clock Boys' - the coming-of-age story of one youngster who hopes to join the eponymous dirt-bike gang in Baltimore. The film seems to capture the exhilaration of the bikers but equally, the consequences of their dangerous actions. Almost certain to be an edge-of-your-seat ride. An opening party follows in the Cinema Tent with live music from DVA.

'Magic Camp'

(Thurs 20th, 14.30. Bloomsbury Theatre)

Magic is timeless. Which is why the same "magic camp" that David Copperfield and David Blaine attended is still going strong. 'Magic Camp' highlights a new generation of budding magicians, in an arena where they can truly express themselves, away from the harsh realities of growing up. The film is preceded by Didier Deswarte's short, 'The Story Of St Damian'.

A Wall Is A Screen: A Walking Cinema Tour

(Fri 21st, 22:00 + Sat 22 June, 22:00. Meeting point: Festival Hub)

Hamburg-based film community A Wall Is A Screen are giving festival adventurers two opportunities to go on a unique film-based psychogeography tour around the UCL campus. Experience films projected upon the walls of London buildings, and learn more about the inspiration behind these scenes.

'I Am Breathing'

(Fri 21st, 18:30. Bloomsbury Theatre)

One of the more publicised films to feature at the festival, 'I Am Breathing' is the intimate portrait of one Motor Neurone sufferer's final months. This screening is one of several around the world to co-incide with Motor Neurone Disease Global Awareness Day, although Open City Docs Fest attendees have the pleasure of a panel discussion with the filmmakers and medical practitioners, which follows the film.

'The Act Of Killing'

(Sat 22nd, 13.30. Bloomsbury Theatre)

Likely to be the most provocative and controversial film of the festival, 'The Act Of Killing' - described as "powerful, surreal, and frightening" by documentary auteur Werner Herzog. The film reflects and recreates the 1965 massacre of Indonesian communists, with the unrepentant murderers at the heart of the recreation - exploring the feelings invoked in a particularly haunting fashion.

'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer'

(Sun 23rd, 15:00. Bloomsbury Theatre)

Pussy Riot shot to infamy following a satirical "punk prayer" musical performance in a Moscow cathedral. The Russian authorities were not amused, and 'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer' investigates the turbulent months following the trio's arrest, and their impact on Russian society. The film premiered at Sundance, winning the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award For Punk Spirit.

'Sofia's Last Ambulance'

(Sun 23rd, 18:30. Bloomsbury Theatre)

The Closing Gala for the Open City Docs Fest 2013 won an award at the Cannes Festival last year, and like The Act Of Killing' (and three other films) is up for the Grand Jury Award here - with Jeremy Irons as the chair of the Jury. 'Sofia's Last Ambulance' centres around the paramedic crew of one of Sofia's last working ambulances - unconventional heroes working against the odds. The film is followed by the festival's Closing Party, to be held in the Cinema Tent, accompanied by a performance from music improv collective Orchestra Elastique.

To purchase tickets and find more info at

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