Hollywood’s contemporary master of all things disheartening, Steve McQueen, is set to direct The Occupied City, a World War II documentary based on the book Atlas Of An Occupied City, Amsterdam 1940-1945 written by his wife, Bianca Stigter. Stigter is a Dutch historian and filmmaker who has previously worked as an associate producer on McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave and last year’s Widows, McQueen’s first film after his five-year hiatus following the release of his 2013 Oscar-winner.
Stigter—who introduced McQueen to the story of Solomon Northup through his book 12 Years A Slave—was able to receive funding from the Netherlands Film Fund, as the film focuses on the history of occupation in the capital of her native country.
Meanwhile, this will be McQueen’s first full-length documentary, although he did dip his toe into non-fiction filmmaking with some of his short film work. This will be Stigter’s second World War II-adjacent documentary after Three Minutes Thirteen Minutes Thirty Minutes (2015), which focused on pre-war life in a Polish town before its destruction in 1939. McQueen is also busy prepping a six-part drama for BBC about the experience of London’s black community from 1968 to 2014. Between the married couple’s filmography, there are exactly zero feature films that have ever been accused of making anyone smile. McQueen is apparently aware of his reputation as a solicitor of cinematic sadness, though, and recently made moves to start mixing that reputation up a bit.