Alternative Images: Documentary as Counter - Culture

8–9 November 2007
Location: OSA Archivum
Arany János u. 32., Budapest
Organized in collaboration with OSA Archivum and OSI-HESP Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching "Alternative Culture Beyond Borders: Past and Present of the Arts and Media in the Context of Globalization."

On-going technological developments, crowned by the digital revolution, have been continuously transforming the making of documentary films. Lighter, cheaper, and easier to handle equipment has gradually made filmmaking accessible to broader and broader circles interested in the creation of moving images. Aimed at catching life "as it is", documentary filmmaking has been continuously paralleled and supplemented by the desire to go beyond the representational surface, to change the world, to uncover deeper structures with the help of montage or added commentary. From the emergence of documentary cinema, artistic groups and individuals have challenged dominant ways of seeing – from the avant-garde movements of the 1920s, the political counter-culture cinema of the 1950–60s and amateur filmmakers whose works preserved alternative layers of culture. Working in conditions of state control over film - making, directors in Eastern Europe and today in other parts of the world learned not only to portray the realities of the contemporary regimes, but simultaneously subverted them.

Workshop will explore the complex relationship of the "official" and "unofficial" in documentary film - making, both in terms of artistic alternatives to commercial production and as politically subversive narrative. It will address new trends in documentary filmmaking and the transformations caused by the emergence of new visual media. Participants will present case-studies and contribute to discussions on both the contemporary media of the global era as well as on "counter-culture" documentaries throughout the 20th century, when visual imagery subverted and challenged mainstream narratives.

Following individual presentations, the workshop will conclude with a Roundtable "The Politics of Documentary Today"

The past decade has seen an explosion in the production of documentary films and videos around the world. This includes everything from independent, small-scale productions intended for viewing only by local communities in which they were produced to feature-length, big budget documentaries whose aim is to bring attention to issues of global concern. What this roundtable will probe is what the expansion and revitalization of the documentary has meant for the politics of this form. Does documentary have an impact on politics? How and why? Examples will be drawn from films screened at the 2007 Verzio Film Festival.