Film Still from Sunless Haven (2024)

George Clarks latest film, Sunless Haven (2024) will premiere at the opening of the 14th edition of Open City Documentary Festival at the ICA on Wednesday 24 April. Sunless Haven was commissioned by historians Simeon Koole and Ben Mechen as part of the AHRC funded project Within Worlds. Focusing on echoes and traces of the past in the present, the project explores how film can be a tool to imagine the experiences in, around and through the London Docklands at the turn of the 20th century. Animating a host of dispersed fragments from historical documents to architectural remnants and the river, Sunless Haven looks at the docklands as a resonant chamber connecting desperate worlds. 

The film will be presented as part of a specially curated programme, assembled by Clark, drawing on his long term 35mm film project Eyemo Rolls – an expanding constellation of over 200 films shot in camera since 2011 – together with works by other artists. Evoking the concept of “Flowing Water Parallelisms” in Chinese poetry, this special screening draws together works connected to ideas of water and liquid bodies as a way to think about worlds within worlds at various border and transient zones. The premiere will be followed by a discussion between George Clark and Simeon Koole, chaired by May Adadol Ingawanij. There will also be a dedicated walk in the docklands to visit historical sites on Sunday 28 April. 

Film Still from Sunless Haven (2024)

Sunless Haven was made by George Clark, in collaboration with sound artist (and CREAM PhD alum) Jol Thoms and performance artist Yarli Allison. Woven into the film are attempts to understand the docklands as a meeting place between different ecologies, enclosures and epochs, as a point of entanglement of the city and world. The film looks at ways to describe and embody these enmeshed histories; from the legacy of police persecution of seaman boarding houses and Indian dockworkers know as lascars, to the traces of early Chinatown in Limehouse and the experiences of London by Ayahs and Amahs – predominantly Chinese or Indian nannies brought back from colonies and abandoned in the city after the voyage.  

Film Still from Sunless Haven (2024)

Open City Documentary Festival closes with a special screening of Leila and the Wolves (dir. Heiny Srour), co-presented with Cinenova, a volunteer-run organisation preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. Leila and the Wolves reveals a hidden past of women’s struggle in Palestine and Lebanon in an attempt to rewrite the history of the region from a feminist point of view. In an interview from 2020, the filmmaker says: “Nowadays, Leila and the Wolves is travelling the world again, more relevant than ever; my unconscious and the collective unconscious of the women of the Middle East spoke together throughout the extreme conditions of making this film.” The screening will be introduced by CREAM doctoral candidate and Techne Scholar, Nadia Yahlom.

Sunless Haven premieres at 6.30pm at the ICA on Wednesday 24 April.  

Within Worlds Docklands Walk takes place on Sunday 28 March – meeting outside the Dickens Inn, Marble Quay, St Katharine’s Way London E1W 1UH at 10.30am. Find out more about the walk here. 

Leila and the Wolves screens at the ICA at 6.30pm on Tuesday 30 April. 

For more information, visit the Open City Docs website.