Skip to Content



Steve McQueen’s


$11.00 Member$17.00 RegularBecome a Member

From 1940-1945, Nazis occupied the magnificent city of Amsterdam, which suffered mass deportations, collaborators, a general strike uprising, and a crippling blockade that resulted in the “Hunger Winter” famine of 1944-45. Informed by historian/filmmaker Bianca Stigter’s Atlas of an Occupied City, Amsterdam 1940-1945, OCCUPIED CITY is a monumental excavation of the city’s wartime history. Eschewing the conventions of World War II documentaries (interviews, archival footage, photographs), Academy Award-winner Steve McQueen (12 YEARS A SLAVE) presents only contemporary footage of the city, along with hauntingly matter-of-fact narration, to trace the effects of the occupation on human lives block by block, address by address. Shot during the early days of COVID, McQueen captures a city under its first curfew since the war and beset by protests of the government’s handling of the pandemic, climate change, and racial injustice. His audacious approach evokes how the history of atrocities — as well as acts of heroism — hover over the freedoms of modern citizens. 

With support from the Joan S. Constantiner Fund for Jewish and Holocaust Films

2023     262 MIN. (including 15-min. intermission)     UK     IN ENGLISH     A24


CRITIC’S PICK. "Extraordinary... intense, absorbing and epically scaled...McQueen’s decision to only use images of contemporary Amsterdam in the film is as effective as it is conceptually bold... As OCCUPIED CITY continues to juxtapose the city’s history with its present — with chronicles of varying length that chart Jewish struggle, resistance, death and survival — the film builds tremendous force.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Read the full review.

“QUIETLY STAGGERING. A masterful panorama of WWII-era Amsterdam. McQueen and Stigter haven’t just excavated some not-so-ancient history; they’ve also made a haunting, magisterial tribute to a city they clearly love.”
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“An entirely fresh, provocative and soul-shaking film. Peering into the liminal place where history’s ghosts linger, McQueen stirs up something more complex than emotion.”
– Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

Film Forum