Slade School of Fine Art


On its eleventh edition, the Open City Documentary Festival will run 8-14 September in London and 13-23 September online.

Founded at UCL by Michael Stewart in 2010, Open City Docs is dedicated to developing and supporting non-fiction storytellers. This year there are several events in relation to Slade 150, the Slade's 150th anniversary.
For details of all festival events please visit:

Open City Documentary Festival 2021: Programme

Following a successful digital iteration in 2020, this year’s hybrid approach will bring films, audiences and filmmakers together again in the cinema, while continuing to offer a chance to experience non-fiction cinema to audiences across the UK.

Open City Documentary Festival returns to its traditional venues – Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Soho and the ICA – and extends for the first time to the Genesis Cinema in the East and Ciné Lumière-Institut français and the Goethe-Institut in West London. The Festival Hub in Chinatown will host the free Expanded Realities exhibition and a programme of talks and workshops. Mimosa House, an independent non-profit gallery space in Holborn, will present Alia Syed’s exhibition Meta Incognita (1-11 September, free entry).

Open City Documentary Festival 2021 will celebrate the art of non-fiction through 47 new non-fiction films. The new film programme includes 10 world premieres and 26 UK premieres, and films from 26 different countries. 6 works in the programme are first or second features.

Festival accreditation
Tickets are now on sale for all screenings & events. We also offer discounted accreditations for UCL students and staff, since we're based at UCL Anthropology. Our delegates gain access to films, talks and networking opportunities. 

A focus on Slade alumna Alia Syed

Alia Syed made her early 16mm films at the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative in the mid-1980s, using the Co-op’s optical printer as a means to explore issues of identity and representation.

Her work investigates the nature and role of language in intercultural communication, with a focus on borders and boundaries, translation and the trans-cultured self. Syed’s films draw from personal and historical realities in order to address the subjective relationship to gender, location, diaspora and colonialism.

Born in 1964 in Swansea, Alia Syed grew up in Glasgow and now lives in London. Her films have been shown at international institutions such as LACMA, the Moscow Biennale, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Hayward Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, INIVA, WKV Stuttgart and the Yale Centre for British Art. This retrospective is the first comprehensive survey of her work in the UK. It provides an overview of four decades of moving image practice, from early student films such as Swan (Syed’s degree piece at the University of East London) and Fatima’s Letter (made whilst at the Slade) to the festival premiere of her recent video work Snow (2019). The retrospective is accompanied by an exhibition at Mimosa House of Syed’s Meta Incognita

Alia Syed 1 Thu 9 September, 20.45 | ICA

Alia Syed 2 Sun 12 September, 18.00 | Genesis Cinema

Alia Syed 3 Mon 13 September, 18.15 | Genesis Cinema

Alia Syed, Meta Incognita
 Wed 1 – Sat 11 September, 12noon-18:00pm (except Sun 5 Sept) | Mimosa House

Slade 150: recent moving image from the Slade

Date: Sat 11 Sep, 14:00
Location Ciné Lumière - Institut français 

This autumn, the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, celebrates 150 years of fine art teaching and research with a varied programme of events which reflect on the past, present and future. This programme showcases a selection outstanding film and moving image work made by students who have recently studied at the Slade.

Combined Programme 3

Date Sat 11 Sep, 18:05
Location Genesis Cinema

This combined programme includes recent work by Maddi Barber, Mary Helena Clark, Simon Liu, Ross Meckfessel, Jayne Parker. 

Slade 150: No Film Is An Island

Date Mon 13 Sep, 19:00
Location Goethe-Institut

This evening event is an exploration of what happened when the Slade School of Fine Art became home to Britain’s first ever university film department. Led by Gaslight director Thorold Dickinson as “an experiment, a means of bombarding students with the art of film,” its legacies can be traced through artists’ moving image, cinema, and television; and through film culture more broadly. The story begins in the 1950s with the first films of Lorenza Mazzetti, an Italian survivor of Nazi persecution who talked her way into a place at the Slade, and involves an international cast of characters. Some are well-known, some unsung, but all were involved in making film into an accepted art medium in a way it had never been before. The introduction of film into British art schools transformed not only the art world, but the whole media landscape.

The evening will include rare short films and visual presentations by Slade Associate Professor Brighid Lowe and Sight and Sound critic Henry K. Miller, who will be joined by two special guests, Maysoon Pachachi (director of Our River…Our Sky, recently shot in Iraq) and Elizabeth Wood (Founder and Director of Bertha DocHouse), both Slade students in the 1960s, who will discuss their memories of being part of a pioneering moment in Britain’s film history.

Slade 150: Film & Pedagogy

Date Tue 14 Sep, 10:30
Location Festival Hub

This panel discussion, chaired by Benjamin Cook, director of LUX, with alumni and lecturers from the Slade, will discuss the changes in moving image production and its impact on filmmaking and teaching over the decades. LUX distributes the work of many Slade alumni, some of whom were instrumental in setting up the London Film Makers’ Co-operative in the 1960s and early 1970s.

With Ishwari Bhalerao, Benjamin Cook, Dryden Goodwin, Brighid Lowe, Jayne Parker, Imran Perretta and Leonie Rousham.