The conference featured screenings of selected essay films as a parallel programme in ‘The Cinema’ space of the Minghella Building.
Thursday, 30 April 2015
17:00–20:00: Walter Salles Event
After a brief welcome address by the conference convenor Dr Igor Krstic, Walter Salles will introduce the screening of one of his films, show clips of others and discuss them in a Q&A with Lúcia Nagib and the audience.
Friday, 1 May 2015
10:20–11:00: Current Events
Sudeuropa (2007) by Raphaël Cuomo and Maria Iorio (40 min)
Sudeuropa examines the ways in which European and Italian immigration policies materialize on location by reconfiguring space, time and the daily life of the Italian island Lampedusa. The film evokes the presence of undocumented migrants on the island, caught far off at sea by the police and coast guards, excluded from social life and made invisible in their detention in a camp by showing the places of their arrival, enclosure and deportation. It focuses on these sites in which the movement of tourists and migrants intersect, as at the airport or the port, where a double regime of the circulation of people becomes apparent. However, the film also foregrounds the conditions of production of the imagery of emergency: journalists and cameramen are embedded in the police dispositif which lines up the bodies, presents them in front of cameras, stages them. This situation gives shape to the usual figures of “clandestine immigrants in the southern borders of Europe”. Sudeuroa attempts to deconstruct these figures widely broadcast by the European and national media, which feed an imaginary of invasion as well as they prolong a western iconography that constructed the other in the act of representation.
11:15–12:45 Autobiographic Filmmaking in Iran
Profession: Documentarist (2014) by Shirin Barghnavard, Firouzeh Khosrovani, Farahnaz Sharifi, Mina Keshavarz, Sepideh Abtahi, Sahar Salahshoor, Nahid Rezaei (80 min)
In the situation of recent political, social and economic crisis of Iran, seven independent female documentary film makers talk about their personal and professional lives, concerns and challenges in a seven- part autobiographic film. Each author explores her filmmaking process and her daily life, through computer games, protests, family archive and the opening of an artists’ café. This film offers a unique insight into what it is like to be an Iranian filmmaker in these times, expressed through a collective cinematic voice.
14:00–16:00: Postcolonial Encounters
Lovers in Time – or how we didn’t get arrested in Zimbabwe (2015) by Agnieszka Piotrowska (60 min)
A preview of the Piotrowska’s new film about putting on a controversial theatre production in Harare during the Arts Festival in 2014. The play Lovers in Time written by the Zimbabwean playwright Blessing Hungwe, is a surreal comedy that deals with traumatic historic events. It is an attempt to dislodge an inevitable consequence of a colonial betrayal. The controversy that ensued surrounded our attempt at using humour to challenge the rigidness of the assumption that a black and white encounter must inevitably result in a white person exploiting the black person. In the film, I pose questions as to what extent whiteness has now become a negative reflection of blackness in colonial times in post-colonial southern Africa. The cast and the director were threatened with arrest, but carried on with the production. The film has elements of observational documentary and drama, but it is also drawing from the tradition of essay writing and evokes Montaigne’s motto ‘this is subjective knowledge but it is still knowledge’. The screening of the film will be followed by a discussion between the filmmaker, Prof Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam), Prof Lib Taylor (University of Reading) and Dr Lisa Purse (University of Reading).
Saturday, 1 May 2015
9:00-11:45: Places and People
Edifício Master (2002) by Eduardo Coutinho (110 min)
For one week, Eduardo Coutinho and his team talked to 27 residents in an enormous building in Copacabana. Amongst these are a middle-aged couple who met through the classified ads in a newspaper, a call-girl who keeps her daughter and her sister, a retired actor, an ex-football player, and a janitor who suspects that his adopted father, whom he dreams about every night, is his real father. The subject of this documentary is private life in the big city, apartments as a last stronghold of individuality, in addition to emphasizing the fact that to live together in one and the same place does not ensure that a community will be formed (the screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Consuelo Lins and Igor Krstic).
Dekho Purani Dilli (Seeing Double) (2013) by Karl Mendonca (15 min)
Dekh Purani Dilli is an essayistic, experimental film that uses the aesthetics of ethnographic film practice to explore the entangled issues of representation and subjectivity of place. The film was made during a fellowship that I was awarded at the UnBox 2011 design conference in New Delhi and is composed of a series of encounters, where objects and people form part of a material network and a filmic context for the question ‘Is Old Delhi Modern?’
11:45-12:30: Found Footage / Found Remnants
Transgressions (2015) by Júlia Machado (15 min)
This essay film presents on screen some challenging taboo-breaking cinematic representations of the body, such as close-ups of genitalia, sexual penetration, animal slaughter as well as scenes of necrophilia, humiliation, disgust, and abjection. Selected from a variety of films representing a broad range of genres, film traditions and filmmakers, those images are woven together in a montage accompanied by a descriptive narration. In presenting this material, Transgressions discusses different ways in which taboos are broken in art house cinema, avant-garde experimental cinema, horror films and pornographic film.
Two Emperors and a Queen (2015) by Vesna Lukic (8 min)
This epistolary video essay brings forth the beginning of the correspondence between a cineaste, Stanoje Backo Aleksic and the former secretary of the Yugoslavian Jewish Community, Naftali Bata Gedalja. The video is part of a larger PhD practice-as-research project on the ‘Kladovo transport’: a large group of about 1200 Jewish refugees from central Europe whose unsuccessful escape attempt tragically and fatally ended on Serbian soil in 1941/42. The video shows the boat on which the Jewish emigrants lived during their Danube journey. It is today a shipwreck on the Danube shore in Kladovo.
14:15-15:30: (Self-) Portraits
Closer Than They Appear (2015) by Kim Munro (20 min)
This film is an essayistic expedition through the secrets, foibles and dogged persistence of human relationships. Part fiction, mostly fact and generally true, each song-like chapter is a quest to get closer to the enigma of what it means to connect with another person; from a secret cold war bunker to a mysterious pen-pal in Fiji, from a town of a single inhabitant to a cat island in Japan, and from myths of everlasting love to the Museum of Broken Relationships.