This paper focuses on the methodological challenges and solutions that I experienced throughout my practice-based PhD. The purpose of this practice-based study was two-fold. First, it aimed to explore how bodies, spaces, and practices are construed, reimagined, and reconstructed by/for veiled women in contemporary Turkey in relation to gender-segregated holiday practices. Secondly, the study focused on the representation in documentary film of veiled women and their gender-segregated holiday practices.
My paper highlights two questions as one of the main aims of this research is to narrate a story about women whose bodies cannot be depicted on screen without their veils because of religious or ethical reasons: 1) What alternative methods exist for depicting invisible/hidden bodies in documentary film? 2) How is the veiled, Muslim female body depicted in my own documentary films?
There are practical and intellectual reasons for using documentary filmmaking as the primary methodology in my research. Thus in this paper, I will bring into light the main conclusions of this practice-based PhD, presenting historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of my research by focusing on the body. Also, I will provide a general overview of my own PhD journey in the light of my fieldworks, documentary film practices, and self-reflexive film analysis. Additionally, I will discuss the challenges faced during the filmmaking process and will demonstrate my own solutions as a director.
My research, conducted by a female researcher, intends to deconstruct the dominant male perspective and thus contribute to feminist documentary filmmaking. Both my personal experience of research/filmmaking and the halal tourism experiences of Muslim women reflected in this study aim to contribute to the political and theoretical knowledge of feminist studies, documentary studies, and documentary filmmaking practices.
Zeynep Merve Uygun received her PhD in trans-disciplinary documentary film from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Prior to her current occupation, she worked as a lecturer at Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul Şehir University and Koç University. Zeynep Merve Uygun has taken part in many international film festivals and workshops as a mentor, tutor and also jury member. Her animated and experimental documentaries such as IN OUT and Zigzag, besides receiving many international awards, have been screened at more than 50 international film festivals including Cannes, Boston Turkish Film Festival, Golden Orange and IF Istanbul Independent Film Festival. Her research interests include the visual representation of body and space in documentary film, digital ethnography, and new media documentary.
The connection between documentary filmmaking and social change is long held and at the same time deeply contested, yet social justice remains a continued motivation amongst documentary filmmakers. This paper draws on my creative practice research collaborations with the Australian South Sudanese diaspora, to enliven discussion around hope and the political potential it offers documentary. It offers new insights into the way we think about documentary filmmaking and social change through an exploration of the affordances of the synthesis of a futures mindset and documentary co-creative practices. Drawing inspiration from futures discourse it charts my filmmaking experimentations with futures methods and a reflexive analysis of hope and its alignment with a politically engaged documentary tradition. Hope is positioned as a politically enlivening concept that enables possibilities for alternative futures. Challenging the idea of documentary film as a purely representational text, I argue that a ‘documentary futures’ practice that repositions documentary making as an active process has the capacity to push the political potential of documentary and its’ ability to contribute to actionable social change.
Shannon Owen is a documentary filmmaker and early career researcher based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work has been broadcast nationally and internationally, screened at festivals in Asia, Europe and North America and exhibited in Australia’s National Portrait Gallery. Shannon’s research practice engages with futures discourse and the possibilities and challenges it poses for documentary filmmaking. Alongside her filmmaking practice, she holds a lecturing position at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne where she co-ordinates the documentary masters program.
Is it true that translation creates the basis for a new commons? If so, how?
The video essay How Do Animals and Plants Live? is an inquiry into the forcible eviction and immediate demolition of the self-organized anarchist-supported migrant squat Orfanotrofeio in Thessaloniki, Greece, in July 2016.
An on-site interview with a young West African migrant, detailed exploration of the bulldozed ruins of the old orphanage, and performative translations from a Greek-language children’s schoolbook (How Do Animals and Plants Live?) that the filmmakers found (amid the rubble when they broke into the site)—these elements are all interwoven with strikingly relevant yet unexpected visuals sparked by questions translated directly from the book. Such visuals pointedly wonder: how is this possible?
While extrapolating on the assertion that “no one is illegal,” the essay actively yet unobtrusively demonstrates the continuing viability of such anarchist principles as self-organization, autonomy, solidarity, assembly, and direct action, in relation to ongoing migrant struggles, at an historical moment when the status of the refugee has become a global paradigm.
Sherry Millner & Ernie Larsen collaborate on film, video, photo-text, book, curatorial and other research projects. Co-creators of the collaborative video project State of Emergency (involving 20 artists), they have also produced several situationist films, two anti-documentaries redefining criminality, and a series of semi-autobiographical videos focusing on authoritarian structures indispensable to capital. In 2008, at the Oberhausen Film Festival, they co-curated Border-Crossers and Trouble-Makers, 10-programs that aimed to rewrite the conventional history of experimental political media. They co-curated Disruptive Film: Everyday Resistance to Power, two DVD volumes of political/experimental short-form films and videos, for Facets Media. Their photo-text projects on Vietnam and on Greece have been published in Rethinking Marxism and online in Social Text and in e-flux conversations. Their collaborative book, Capital’s Greek Cage (Autonomedia), explores of the immiseration of the Greek population by the EU and the related growth of fascism.
Millner produces installations, such as The Domestic Boobytrap, which exploits U.S. army manuals to demonstrate the radical instability of domestic space and many photomontage series, currently including No Respirator Included. Larsen writes fiction and media criticism. His most recent book The Trial before The Trial, an account of his experiences on a Manhattion grand jury, is available from Autonomedia Press.
Integrating the documentary genre-specific approach with material archive and the use of staging, the film investigates the grey areas of the laws regulating Italian citizenship for second generation Roma children . The attempt of staging a fiction film, becomes the pretext for involving a group of teenagers in a collective reflection on the paperlesness and invisibility. The material archive related to the story of a paperless girl trying to obtain her documents in the passage to 18 years old, shot about ten years ago in MiniDV format, represents the red thread that holds the fictional elements sewn together with the issues addressed by the documentary. Through the exploration of Boal’s theatre of the oppress “forum” and the construction of Brechtian mechanism of dismantling of the “third wall”, the film builds the relationship with the viewer on a familiarization/defamiliarization mechanism. This process is aimed at creating a displacement that reproduces the experience disorientation of those seeking to obtain documents in a bureaucratic labyrinth, at the same time, it becomes a disclosure of “othering” gaze dynamics and an experience of recognition of the invisibility erased from our society.
After a degree in Philosophy between Rome and Berlin, Ludovica graduated in Documentary Direction at the UK National Film and Television School in 2011 and started working as a documentary filmmaker. Following a PhD in Audiovisual Studies between Italy and the UK, she started lecturing in documentary, experimental and interactive storytelling at University College London. Ludovica is active both as a filmmaker and researcher, exploring forms of subjectivity through participatory narratives and forms of emancipation of personal and collective spectatoriality, through the relationship with new media and expanded cinema. With an approach combining Film studies, Media studies and Postcolonial studies, she also programs documentary and experimental films for “Festival dei Popoli”.
Professor Agnieszka Piotrowska, PhD, is a Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at the University of Gdansk, Poland, and a professorial fellow at Oxford Brookes, UK. She is the former Head of School for Film, Media and Performing Arts at the UCA, UK. She an award-winning filmmaker and theorist, best known for her film Married to the Eiffel Tower. Her latest book is the Creative Practice Research in the Age of Neoliberal Hopelessness (2020). She has written extensively about film, gender and psychoanalysis and has also been making experimental work and video essays. She was a finalist in the Times Higher Competition in 2018 in the category of the Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.