Natalie Cubides-Brady on „The Veiled City“/ interview

Born in London, UK in 1981, she studied documentary film directing at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. Her short documentary Beyond the North Winds screened at festivals including Sundance London, Visions du Réel and Edinburgh and won the prize for Best Short Screenplay at the Poitiers Film Festival. Having participated in Berlinale Talents in 2021, she is currently developing her debut feature-length film.

What was your starting point for “The Veiled City”?

I came across some photographs of the Great Smog of London and was captivated by them. The smog had a beguiling effect – turning the city into both a dreamlike landscape and a site of death. The images were from 1952 but they could also be from a post-apocalyptic future. The story grew out of these contradictions. I began to think about how the smog was one of the first signals that we had entered the Anthropocene. It was a climate catastrophe that embodies many of the contradictions we all now face – a deadly situation that has built up over time, that is constantly there, but is only visible during crisis events.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

There’s a passage in the last act of the film that I find particularly moving. It’s the sequence that opens with people watching music at a bandstand in a park on a summer’s day. It makes me reflect on how there’s a timeless and quite innocent beauty and dignity in the everyday, but that we’re also always in some ways blind to the damage of the structural forces around us and how we contribute to them. When I came across this footage of Hyde Park on a summer’s day, I knew it had to have a place in the film.

What do you like about the short form?

I think there are lots of similarities between short films and poems, or good children’s stories. There needs to be a narrative economy that can take you on a profound journey in a short space of time. The short form obviously also offers a unique space to experiment with film language and take creative risks – a smaller canvas where you can try out new ideas.

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