Alternative Film/Video Research Forum 2016, Documentary Intersections
Alternative Film/Video, 7-11 December 2016, Belgrade
Regarding the active fault line between modes of expression in cinema, Bill Nichols wrote about ‘blurred boundaries’ in 1995. Twenty years later Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg wrote about ‘documentary across disciplines’ with a specific focus on alternative forms. Notwithstanding these important recent critical brackets, there is a very long tradition of documentary practices making incursions into the field of alternative film and video, though there does seem to be a rising curve of such work in the early 21st century, through the use of archival material, amateur film/video, and other forms of non-fiction content that is experimented upon and/or with. This year’s Alternative Film/Video Research Forum will take stock of the current state of such ‘documentary intersections’, analyzing their pasts, presents, and future prospects for a dynamic, borderless cinema.
We do not normally think of alternative film and video in terms of genre or through genre studies. As such, we do not often enough consider the effects of genre hybridity or ‘interdisciplinarity’ as exhibited in such work. As a genre the documentary has been very fluid across the history of cinema. One can see its artifacts in various national styles and movements. On the other end of the spectrum, documentary itself has had something of an experimental affinity since the silent era of cinema. One might recall the interactive plays with performance of Flaherty, or the archival fever of Shub, or the radical montage strategies of Vertov. How do we account for these early intersections? How have they developed over time while impacting alternative film and video work? What are the qualities of contemporary attempts to experiment along these and other paths?
In Jeffrey Skoller’s 2005 study, Shadows, Specters, Shards: Making History in Avant-Garde Film, he argues for the important role that alternative film and video plays in evoking social and political history – maybe more important than conventional non-fiction formats. Here we have an ethical concern with the documentary intersection, with the larger responsibility and burden it carries. In the 2016 anthology Ortsbestimmungen. Das Dokumentarische zwischen Kino und Kunst, edited by Katrin Mundt and Eva Hohenberger, we again find an investigation of the documentary between the disciplines of cinema and art. Can we place the ‘alternative documentary’ on such a continuum, and if so to what pole does it tend toward? To again borrow a title from one of Nichol’s books, the documentary might be charged with ‘representing reality’ but the documentary intersection, with its elemental collisions and fusions, may have the more important task of re/creating reality. Building a better world out of the shadows, specters, and shards of the existing one is a formidable concern for such a cinematic intervention. We will explore and exercise this concern in the Alternative Film/Video Research Forum 2016.
This one-day event (on 9 December) running concurrently with the festival will gather a group of curators, critics, artists, and researchers for an intimate encounter where presentations will be delivered and discussions held concerning alternative works of film, video, and new media art. We are accepting abstracts of 300 words along with short biographies of 150 words for consideration. Selected participants will be given support toward their accommodation in Belgrade but are asked to cover travel expenses on their own. Please forward inquiries and submissions to Greg de Cuir, Jr, selector/curator for Alternative Film/Video Belgrade, no later than 15 October 2016 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternative Film/Video Belgrade (Serbia) is an international festival for new film and video tendencies and one of the oldest manifestations of its kind in Europe. It was founded in 1982 by Miodrag Milošević as an antidote to commercial film and video-making and to support unconventional practices while celebrating moving image cultures. Alternative Film/Video Belgrade is organized by and hosted at Academic Film Center in Belgrade, which was established in 1958 as a kino club and where many iconic filmmakers worked, including Tomislav Gotovac, Živojin Pavlović, Radoslav Vladić, and others. Visit the website at www.alternativefilmvideo.org/.