This workshop brings together six contributors to the Indiana University Press collection, Reclaiming Popular Documentary (July 2021). From varied perspectives, each author will talk about their contribution to the book in relation to contested practices of truth telling in an age of alternative facts and embattled democracy. Deploying multifaceted conceptions of the popular, we will explore the value of the popular in relation to documentary mediamaking and the project of democracy. The panel will address different ways of framing the popular in relation to documentary studies and digital culture, asking how these have affected the reorganization of popular documentary as a democratic project. Has the popularization of documentary compromised the aspirations of committed documentarians whose work is marketed back to us as entertainment? The lacunae that persist in scholarly treatments of popular documentary will be considered, along with the productive spaces where concessions to fiction-based conventions and the lure of the popular converge with the documentary contract.
Christie Milliken is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University. She is author of journal articles and book chapters on sex education film and video, 1960s cinema, and AIDS video activism. With Steve Anderson, she is co-editor of the anthology Reclaiming Popular Documentary (Indiana University Press, 2021).
Steve Anderson is a former documentary film editor who works at the intersection of media, history, technology and culture. He is Interim Chair and Professor of Film, Television & Digital Media at UCLA with a joint appointment in Design Media Arts. Most recently, he is the author of Technologies of Vision: The War Between Data and Images (MIT 2017), and, co-editor with Christie Milliken of the anthology Reclaiming Popular Documentary (IUP 2021).
Michael Baker is Professor of Film Studies in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at Sheridan College. He is author of numerous book chapters and journal articles on a range of subjects including documentary, popular music and film, and new media. Baker is co-editor, with Tom Waugh and Ezra Winton, of Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada (McGill-Queen’s, 2010) and is presently co-editing a collection (with Jessica Mulvogue) addressing the interactive documentary in Canada.
Anthony Kinik is a film studies professor whose areas of specialization include documentary and experimental film, as well as cinema’s complex relationship with the urban environment. Together with Steven Jacobs and Eva Hielscher, he co-edited The City Symphony Phenomenon: Cinema, Art, and Urban Modernity Between the Wars (Routledge 2019). His essay Minimum and Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll: Nick Cave, the Bad Seeds, and Rockumentary Form From The Road to God Knows Where (1990) to 20,000 Days on Earth (2014) will appear in the edited collection Images and Sounds of Fury: Mapping the Rockumentary (Edinburgh University Press, 2021).
Ezra Winton is Assistant Professor, Communication Studies (Precarious/Visiting) at Concordia University. His writing, teaching, research and curatorial practice engage in questions of representational politics, screen ethics and media curation/circulation. He is currently finishing his monograph with MQUP Buying in to Doing Good: Documentary Politics and Curatorial Ethics at the Hot Docs Film Festival as well as the co-edited (with Dana Claxton) anthology Insiders/Outsiders: The Cultural Politics and Ethics of Indigenous Representation and Participation in Canada’s Media Arts (WLUP). Ezra is co-founder and lead curator at Cinema Politica, an international documentary distribution and exhibition non-profit dedicated to politically engaged film.
Dr. Shilyh Warren is Associate Professor of film and feminist studies in the School of Arts & Humanities at UT Dallas. She is the author of Subject to Reality: Women in Documentary (U of Illinois P, 2009), and essays on documentary, feminism, and women’s cinema. She’s curated several film programs featuring women’s documentary and experimental filmmaking in North Carolina, New York, and Dallas, and she often serves on the jury of the Dallas VideoFest.