Famous for their relentless reconstruction of WW1 from archival and found footage shot at the time, Angela Ricci Lucchi and Yervant Gianikian engage with the documentary image in a way that directly questions the notion of crisis. This is a crisis of representation confronted by the conflict that is war, but also a crisis of visuality because they constantly challenge the regime of the visible through their ‘analytical camera’, which slows down the pace of the film.
The paper deals with how the artists question the temporality of documentary, and dwells on the degree of intervention that they find it necessary to introduce in their reworking of the filmic materials. I shall posit that crisis triggers virtuous aesthetic solutions that are researched, formulated and practiced to formalise a response to it. By the same token, the work by Giankian and Ricci Lucchi is emblematic in that, I argue, they manipulate the film as a necessity to respond to the crisis depicted in the images. Specifically, they create pockets of time within the images for the viewers to dwell in, and therein activate their critical thinking when confronted with depictions of a colonialist and fascist past, which serves to inform an ethics for the present and the future.
Miriam De Rosa is Associate Professor at Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice, and an independent curator. She researches and teaches film theories and philosophy, experimental cinema and screen media arts. She is the author of Cinema & Postmedia (2013), the editor of Post-what? Post-when? with Vinzenz Hediger (2016), Gesture (2019) and Film & Domestic Space (2020). She is currently writing on the cinema and art of Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi.
By attempting to preserve something tangible in the form of visual records, documentary film presents an immense archival value for posterity. The genre has been adopted to record subjects and moments, fixing in time historical and mundane worlds and making them live posthumously. Whereas such practice mummifies and perpetuates stories and lives, it also poses particular ethical questions when the subjects are represented post mortem and through intimate and private archives. Post mortem representation conflicts with the principle of informed consent and, ultimately, with the subject’s right to non-representation.
This paper explores Gothic Realism as a critical disruption of documentary film ethics, opening up possibilities to investigate the underlying conflict of post mortem representation and archival appropriation. The documentary film Must Read After My Death is investigated through the lens of Vivian Sobchack’s “Ten Propositions on Death” by inquiring about the ethical concerns of exposing family and private spheres and emphasizing spectacle and sensorial perceptions.
Patrícia Nogueira is an Assistant Professor at University of Maia – ISMAI and an invited Professor at University of Coimbra. PhD in Digital Media, under the University of Texas at Austin – Portugal international program, Nogueira is a researcher at ICNOVA – iNOVA Media Lab, and co-leads the European research group CCVA – Cinema and Contemporary Visual Arts, under NECS. She is a documentary filmmaker, focusing mainly on female subjects. During 2015 Patrícia was in residence at the National Film Board of Canada and in 2016 she was a visiting researcher at the University of Texas at Austin. She co-created and co-teaches the class Death and Documentary, running both at UT Austin and University of Maia.
This paper takes as a starting point the filmography of the collective Ogawa Pro and Le Masson/Deswarte’s Kashima Paradise (1973), films documenting and resisting to projects of capitalist developmentalism in postwar Japan, to examine, in a second step, aesthetic, discursive, and epistemic strategies of contemporary documentary to respond to the political and ecological crisis.
Ogawa Pro’s Sanrizuka Series (1968-1977) documents the struggle against the construction of Narita Airport, a conflict that Kashima Paradise also approaches. The engaged documentation of that political and ecological crisis not only brings the conventions of documentary into crisis but also entails the destructuring of the hierarchical relationship between the subject and object of representation, which is redefined in terms of co-representation. Ogawa Pro’s collective practice, in which “the documentary subject and filmmaking crew become all but indistinguishable” (Stam), involves constructing common affective and cognitive/political experiences, expressed through correlative film forms.
Taking the work of Ana Vaz as a case study, the paper analyzes, in its second stage, how contemporary documentary re-interprets and represents past and present developmental projects through ecofeminist, intervisual and inter-epistemological practices, and how those practices relate to and expand historical modalities of co-representation. It explores, particularly, Apiyemiyekî? (2019), a film dedicated to the genocide of the Waimiri-Atroari at the time of construction of the BR-174 highway during the Military Dictatorship in Brazil, put in parallel with the country’s current political and ecological crisis, as an example of an ecofeminist, intervisual, and inter-epistemological film practice.
Raquel Schefer holds a PhD. in Film Studies from Sorbonne Nouvelle University, where she is a lecturer. She published the book Self-Portrait in Documentary, as well as several chapters and papers. She has taught at Grenoble Alpes University, Paris Est, Rennes 2, the University of Cinema of Buenos Aires, and the University of Communication in Mexico City. She was a Visiting Scholar at UCLA. She is a post-doctoral FCT fellow at the University of Lisbon, NOVA University of Lisbon, and the University of the Western Cape. She is a co-editor of the quarterly La Furia Umana.
Leshu Torchin is Senior Lecture in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews, where she researches and teaches on documentary, witnessing, and activism. She is author of Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet, co-author of Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe, and co-editor of Film Festivals and Activism. She has contributed to journals such as Third Text, Film Quarterly, and Film & History, and finds a shocking amount to say about Borat. She launched the Themed Playlist Initiative at the start of the pandemic and hopes to keep it going.