Steve McQueen at the Photo Call of Black Flies at the 76th Cannes film festival
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A Cannes Film Festival veteran Steve McQueen stepped out on the blue carpet of the photo call area at the Palais des Festivals to promote his 4-hour long documentary ‘Occupied City’.

In Steve McQueen’s “Occupied City,” a young woman with an even voice narrates, with rigorous specificity, Nazi encounters and crimes throughout Amsterdam during World War II. The accounts go address by address, and so does McQueen’s camera.

Yet the images that play throughout “Occupied City” are of modern day Amsterdam. In the roving, 4 hour-plus documentary made by McQueen, the “12 Years a Slave” director, with his partner, the Dutch documentarian and author Bianca Stigter, past and present are fused — or at least provocatively juxtaposed.



Steve McQueen at the Photo Call of Black Flies at the 76th Cannes film festival
Steve McQueen at the Photo Call of the Occupied City at the 76th Cannes Film Festival © Rune Hellestad

We recall his masterclass at the Cannes Film Festival two years ago when the filmmaker proclaimed he enjoys long shots that somehow get more of the worldview in. Well, it turns out he doesn’t just love long shots but terribly long films too. The four-hour long documentary was revealing but also awfully long, especially for Cannes Film Festival where every minute of a journalist’s time is of the essence.

The AP have reviewed the documentary for you. “The present erases history,” says McQueen. “There’s going to be a time when no one is going to be around who knew certain people. It kind of echoes what’s happening with the Second World War. There’s not a lot of people around who can testify about what actually went on in that time. They’re all passed. This film in some ways is erecting those memories in another way.”

It would appear however that Cannes Film Festival – which was cut short in it’s inaugural year due to the WW II – strive to keep the memory alive. Bak in 2021, they selected Loznitsa’s Documentary Archives ‘Babi Yar’ for Cannes Classics competition in 2021 – a two and a half hour long screening of documentary footage yours truly had the privilege of watching.


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Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).