Vancouver Premiere

Extraordinary … [An] intense, absorbing, and epically scaled chronicle.”

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Demolished.” The word routinely punctuates the voiceover narration in British filmmaker and visual artist Steve McQueen’s colossal documentary, a geographical tour of Nazi-occupied Amsterdam rendered exclusively through observational footage shot before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tome-sized work, adapted from the exhaustively researched 2019 book Atlas of an Occupied City (Amsterdam 1940–1945) by Bianca Stigter (McQueen’s wife and producer), is spartan in form and profound in cumulative effect. Over its nearly four-and-a-half-hour runtime, McQueen hopscotches from one discrete address to another (130 in total), exhuming the quotidian horrors of the Holocaust on the sites where they once transpired. What begins as a jarring juxtapositioning of past and present locksteps into a fascinating, sometimes oblique, portrait of a haunted city and the lessons it holds. That aforementioned utterance (“demolished”) assumes an unshakable power as it conveys not merely the material destruction of buildings and homes, but the fates of those once residing inside them.

Occupied Citys runtime includes a built-in 15-minute intermission.

Essential … This is vital cinema with one eye on the not-so-distant past and the other on our precarious future.”

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“[A] monumental film … In its scale and seriousness, Occupied City allows its emotional implication to amass over its running time. The effect is mysterious and moving.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian