What does it mean to conceptualize the making of a documentary film as collaborative work? Can we understand collaboration as a reflexive lens that also attends to the power relations and social differentiations inherent within the film’s fabrication? Such is the proposition of this event. Through this frame we aim to emphasize not only the formal aesthetics of the cinematic object, but also its infrastructure and the work expended through more-than-human relations. Emphasizing flux and movement over genre and medium, the graduate research training group “Documentary Practices: Excess and Privation” investigates the manifold practices that are involved in the emergence of the document(ary), a process that entails the social production of evidence effects, legibility, and expressive value, as well as their contestations.
In this event, moderated by members from the graduate research training group, we will explore how filmmaking emerges through contingent and negotiated relations between filmmakers and film subjects, (recording) technology, rhythms (of the sea), and the sedimentations of history; we will also probe how the infrastructural conditions of collaborative work shape the ever-shifting horizons of the documentary imagination.
Diana Allan is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at McGill University and a Canada Research Chair in ethnographic archives. She received her training in filmmaking in the Sensory Ethnography Lab and was a Harvard Film Study Center Fellow. Her films include Shatila, Beirut, Terrace of the Sea, Still Life and So Dear, So Lovely. Diana is also the co-founder and co-director of the Nakba Archive, a testimonial project that has recorded interviews on film with first generation Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. During the 2006 Lebanon/Israel war she established ‘Lens on Lebanon’, a participatory film and photographic initiative funded by the Soros Foundation, Oxfam and the Prince Claus Fund.
Merle Kröger is a novelist, screenwriter and dramaturg based in Berlin. She co-founded pong film with Philip Scheffner in 2001 and worked as a co-author for Scheffner’s documentary films. Kröger has published five novels until now, with her newest book Die Experten being released in February 2021. Her novels have received numerous awards.
Philip Scheffner has been working as a visual artist since 1985. His feature length documentaries like The Halfmoon Files, Day of the Sparrow, Revision and Havarie won numerous awards and were positively perceived and acknowledged by international critics. He co-founded pong film with Merle Kröger in 2001. Since October 2021 he is Professor for Documentary Practice at the Academy of Media Arts (KHM), Cologne.
Cynthia Browne is currently an anthropologist and media practitioner based in Germany. Her current research focuses on the material afterlives of mining and operates at the intersection of media studies, sensory ethnography, science and technology studies, and the anthropology of extraction. Currently she is a post-doctoral research associate with the interdisciplinary research training group “Documentary Practices: Excess and Privation” at the Ruhr University in Bochum Germany, as well as a 2020/2021 Fellow at the Institute for Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany. She is also an alumni of the Critical Media Practice program at Harvard University, where she received her doctorate in Social Anthropology in 2019. Her book manuscript Utopic Wastelands: Site-Specific Art and the Re-making of Germany’s Ruhr region, examines the multiple, conflicting temporalities inhering in efforts to aesthetically and pragmatically reframe Germany’s former coal and steel heartland into a post-industrial “cultural metropolis.”
Vera Mader studied Media and Cultural Studies and Cultural Anthropology in Freiburg, Germany and Amherst, Massachussetts. They are part of the graduate research training group “Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation” at Ruhr-University Bochum. Research interests include Black feminist theory, the poetics/practice of care and discourses on healing, i.e. in 20th century environmentalism.