Open City

Guantanamo detainees, drug abuse, Morris dancers, and a women with five (metaphorical) elephants are just some of the subjects featured in the Open City London Documentary Film Festival opening tomorrow, alongside a number of brilliant design and architecture related screenings.

Michael Stewart, Open City London Documentary Festival director, says, ‘We have set up Open City because we believe there needs to be a place to hear the stories that matter: stories that, all too often, remain untold: lives unrecognised, abuses ignored, follies forgotten, connections unrealised, joys uncelebrated.

‘We need an occasion to celebrate the meeting of art and journalism that defines great documentary.’

Lambeth Towers from Utopia London
Lambeth Towers from Utopia London

Among highlights of the festival is Tom Cordell’s Utopia London. The film explores the capital’s architectural icons – which in today’s world, are increasingly fiscal in nature – banks, office blocks and sky scrapers.

Dawson's Heights from Utopia London
Dawson’s Heights from Utopia London

It explores the 21st Century landscape by examining how former buildings – created with the intention of forming a ‘concrete Utopia’ – are disintegrating before our eyes, leaving decaying artefacts to their makers’ idealistic intentions, such as London’s Elephant and Castle.

Cordell says, ‘I’ve always been drawn to the excitement of its post-war landscape; concrete and brick textures, unadorned clean lines, neon glow and dark shadows.

‘And most Londoners my age that I know feel the same – the modernist city is our landscape.’



A less bleak offering arrives courtesy of Gereon Wetzel & Joerg Adolph’s How to Make a Book with Steidl. The film documents the life of Gerhard Steidl, the man behind German photographic book publisher Steidl. A consummate perfectionist, our protagonist – who has combined the roles of printer and published for 40 years – resolved to personally check each sheet leaving his printing shop in Göttingen.

From How to Make a Book with Steidl

From How to Make a Book with Steidl

Screened alongside How to Make a Book with Steidl will be Scott Erickson’s film, Doyald Young, Logotype Designer. Typographer, logotype designer, author and teacher Young reveals the painstaking process behind the conception of the logo for Prudential, and also documents the creation of Learning Curves, his next book about script lettering.

Doyald Young

Doyald Young

Open City London Documentary Festival runs from 16 – 19 June. Screenings all take place around the main festival hub in Malet Place, London WC1E. For more information visit

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