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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Netherlands / UK / USA

Steve McQueen returns to the documentary realm with Occupied City

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- The British artist and filmmaker is in production on his first feature-length doc, focusing on his adoptive city of Amsterdam amidst World War II

Steve McQueen returns to the documentary realm with Occupied City
Director Steve McQueen

After winning Oscars for 12 Years a Slave [+see also:
trailer
making of
interview: Michael Fassbender
film profile
]
and the Turner Prize earlier in his career for his video installations, British filmmaker Steve McQueen’s latest field to excel in is the historical documentary. Having garnered some career-best praise for his BBC miniseries Uprising (a non-fiction follow-up to Small Axe, his landmark study of black British life), he is moving ahead with another documentary project, Occupied City, which will be a history of Amsterdam under Nazi occupation amidst World War II.

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The film is budgeted at over $5 million – a large figure for a movie of this type – and US producers A24 and New Regency have boarded as co-financiers and international rights holders, joining Film4 and Lammas Park from the UK, and Family Affair Films from the Netherlands. Floor Onrust from the latter company is producing. Further partners on the Dutch-UK-US co-production are the Netherlands Film Fund, the Mondriaan Fund and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.

First announced three years ago, the film is based on a book by McQueen’s wife, journalist and filmmaker Bianca Stigter, entitled Atlas of an Occupied City. Amsterdam 1940-1945. A previous statement by the Netherlands Film Fund went, “Living in Amsterdam is like living with spirits. It looks like there are two parallel worlds. The past is always present.” A large element of the film will be looking at the Amsterdam of the present, and bringing out its “hidden history” and “traces” of the past. McQueen himself has been based in the city for several decades now.

New Regency, McQueen’s collaborator on 12 Years a Slave and Widows [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Steve McQueen
film profile
]
, is also producing his next narrative feature, entitled Blitz, the topic of which hasn’t been revealed yet (although the title, of course, references the German bombing campaign in the UK, taking place contemporaneous with Occupied City’s events). Stigter has her Holocaust documentary Three Minutes - A Lengthening [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bianca Stigter
film profile
]
showing at this month’s Sundance, after premiering in Venice’s Giornate degli Autori last year.

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