Between 5 and 10th September an London will host the Open City Documentary Festival. Among other films and film-makers participating in the festival’s programme will be Vitaly Mansky with four of his internationally acclaimed documentary films.

Ukrainian-born Vitaly Mansky is one of Russia’s most celebrated documentary filmmakers. Over the course of his career, mansky has directed over 30 films which have been presented at more than 500 festivals across the world. Mansky has tirelessly chronicled political and social developments in russia since the fall of the soviet union through examining the struggles of everyday-lives. The films in this selection blend myth, reality, propaganda and fiction to reveal the many-sided legacy of the Soviet dream.

Mansky graduated VGIK – All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography in 1989 and has since gone on to make dozens of films working as both a director and producer for contemporaries such as Sergey Loznitsa. He is also the founder and Artistic Director of Art Dok Fest in Riga, Latvia.

The focus will start with Mansky’s Masterclass event, during which Mansky will discuss his wide-ranging and prolific career as well as his approach to his filmmaking practice.

We would like particularly to bring your attention to the famous Mansky’s documentary Gagarin’s Pioneers  where he embarks on a journey to track down his old school friends and fellow Young Pioneers with whom, as a child growing up in Lvov, Ukraine, he pledged allegiance to the Soviet motherland and the principles of communism. Many would later flee the Soviet Union with their parents to begin new lives in Israel, others, like the Mansky’s, changed their names, wiped away the traces of their Jewish family history and stayed. Mansky travels to Israel, USA, Canada and Ukraine in search of those he once knew so well, to explore their shared past and to discuss dreams and disappointments, discrimination and dominance, homeland and happiness.

Patria o Muerte, which translates as Motherland or Death, has been a daily dilemma for several Cuban generations. Another documentary, Motherland or Death focuses on the generation of Cubans born before the revolution as they near the end of their lives. Whilst their devotion to the motherland remains undiminished, they begin to question the circumstances in which the regime has forced them to live.

Mansky portrays a stark contrast between Cuba’s carefully crafted image and the reality of daily life. The film depicts Havana as a desolate place, a dilapidated skeleton, broken up and rearranged with stray dogs and cats, lamp posts as gallows, and angry spewing sewers.