Browsing Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Issue 18: Refugee Filmmaking by Issue Date
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- ItemDisplacement, exile and incarceration commuted into cinematic vision(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Tofighian, Omid; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaChauka, Please Tell Us the Time (Behrouz Boochani and Arash Kamali Sarvestani, 2017) is a documentary that exposes the systematic torture of refugees banished by the Australian Government to Manus Prison (in Papua New Guinea and officially called the Manus Regional Processing Centre). Shot clandestinely from a mobile phone camera by Boochani and smuggled out for codirection with Kamali Sarvestani, the film documents an important phase in the history of migration to Australia. This article analyses the film by foregrounding the experience of displacement, exile and incarceration as a unique cinematic standpoint. Boochani’s cinematic vision and socio-political critique will be interpreted in terms of embodied knowing and his existential predicament. The symbiotic relationship between the experience of seeking asylum, exile, imprisonment and the filmmaking process raises critical questions regarding the film as anti-genre, common tropes used to define refugeehood, and the criteria necessary to interpret and evaluate cultural production created from this unique position. The article draws on theories pertaining to accented cinema and incorporates ideas from social epistemology. Furthermore, it considers the author’s dialogue and collaboration with Boochani and Kamali Sarvestani and examines the significance of various contributors to the filmmaking process and cinematic vision.
- ItemSeascapes of solidarity: Refugee cinema and the representation of the Mediterranean(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Van De Peer, Stefanie; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaFilms about refugees have been embraced by accented cinema. Indeed, exilic filmmakers continue to test the boundaries of cinema, and specifically its strong bonds with nation and land. But not all exiles are refugees. This article offers that for Arab refugees the journeys across the sea define their filmmaking and thus also the refugee film. If we acknowledge the sea as a central theme, motif and stylistic element in (some) refugee cinema, spectators may be able to experience refugee cinema more ethically. Using the concept of “Mediterranean thinking” as a central analytical tool, this article focuses on the visual representations of refugees in films made on and in the Mediterranean Sea, problematising the injustices in the representation of refugees since the so-called “refugee crisis”. With a film-philosophical approach to four films from North Africa and Syria, I emphasise how filmmakers directly or indirectly address the senses of their spectators with a cinema that highlights the instability of knowledge and power through movement and fluidity. An in-depth analysis of the visual qualities of water places fluid space and time at the centre of these refugee films. In Mediterranean refugee filmmaking, water enables an embodied experience that leads to allegiance and sympathy, in order to achieve solidarity. This approach is based on a desire to contribute to a new historiography in the service of a more just world. Transnational journeys shape the representations of refugees travelling, transforming and transcending the Mediterranean. Ultimately, this article examines how the migrant and the sea itself develop with the “refugee crisis”, visualised in a cinema adrift on the Mediterranean Sea.
- ItemCollaborating with refugees: Power, ethics and reciprocity in documentary filmmaking(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Hughes, Mandy; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Sorbera, LuciaRepresenting stories through documentary film can offer a means to convey multilayered and sensory accounts of the lived experiences of people in extreme transition, especially former refugees. However, along with the potential of this medium comes the responsibility to engage with participants in an ethical and reciprocal manner. This article examines these prerequisites and applies them to two films about the experiences of people from refugee backgrounds in Australia. The first film, The Last Refuge: Food Stories from Myanmar to Coffs Harbour (2015), explores the Myanmar community, their sociocultural relationship to food and how this informs their identity. The second film, 3Es to Freedom (2017), documents a supported employment program for women from refugee backgrounds. Despite having different purposes and target audiences, the two films reinforced the importance of establishing informed and negotiated consent with marginalised people as the basis of all interactions and representations on film. Such negotiation seeks to minimise power imbalances and forms the ethical starting point for reflexive filmmaking practice that considers the filmmakers’ and participants’ intentions, and that promotes a heightened awareness of how knowledge is created through image-making.
- ItemDebordering academia: Centring the displaced and exiled in research. Foreword(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Tofighian, Omid; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaThis issue of Alphaville centres on the work of displaced and exiled filmmakers and directors committed to challenging border violence. This is achieved in part through the work of the academic contributions in the main section, but perhaps most pertinently through the contributions of filmmakers in the two Dossiers. The editorial team in this issue practiced a form of borderless collegiality by imagining a scholarly publication that fosters empowering dialogues between academics, artists, activists and those with lived experience; debordering here begins with the vision of the editorial team and extends into the selection and configuration of contributions.
- ItemGenre, Authorship and Contemporary Women Filmmakers, by Katarzyna Paszkiewicz(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Kinik, Anthony; Mulvey, James
- ItemFilm and Fashion Amidst the Ruins of Berlin: From Nazism to the Cold War, by Mila Ganeva(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Ulfsdotter, Boel; Mulvey, James
- ItemGender in Post-9/11 American Apocalyptic TV: Representations of Masculinity and Femininity at the End of the World, by Eve Bennett(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Fradley, Martin; Mulvey, James
- ItemCarceral Fantasies: Cinema and Prison in Early Twentieth-Century America, by Alison Griffiths(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Young, Gwenda; Mulvey, James
- ItemEuropean Cinema and Continental Philosophy: Film as Thought Experiment, by Thomas Elsaesser(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Erkan, Ekin; Mulvey, James
- ItemCarceral-border cinema: The film from Manus prison. Introduction(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Tofighian, Omid; Tofighian, OmidThe articles in this dossier critically discuss the film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time (Behrouz Boochani and Arash Kamali Sarvestani, 2017) and reflect on its creation and response. The film is unique in many ways. It was shot clandestinely on a smartphone; shots were smuggled out of the Manus Island immigration detention centre (which has now been dismantled, but was located on the Lombrum Naval Base and officially called Manus Regional Processing Centre) to Lorengau, the main town on the island, then to Australia, and then sent to the codirector in the Netherlands. One of the filmmakers, Behrouz Boochani, was imprisoned at the time of filming and production, an imprisonment which continues at the time of writing; and the two codirectors have never met—the whole film project was conducted over WhatsApp voice messaging and never with conversations in real time due to poor reception in the prison.
- ItemSonic sociabilities and stranger relations in Arnaud des Pallières’ Adieu (2004)(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Talijan, Emilija; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaThis article addresses the way noise has been deployed within the sonic practice of French filmmaker Arnaud des Pallières in his film Adieu (2004). According to des Pallières, the politics of his filmmaking resides in the way his films reflect on experiences of which he has no lived experience. With Adieu, des Pallières considers the experience of migration purposefully obliquely. The article examines how this indirect approach is achieved through noise that is harnessed to a political agenda, one that implicates spectators through the film’s own indirect address to listening in spectatorship. Through asynchronicity, the film tunes us to noises that continually arrive from an elsewhere, annoying our sense of place and integrating us within a world of strangers. Through a close reading of this film’s use of migratory noise, feedback and soundscaping, I show how des Pallières’ rigorous and singular approach to noise in Adieu is uniquely placed to open up questions about how we relate to sound and cinema’s address to listening in spectatorship. This consideration offers wider possibilities for understanding how cinema instigates more distant and radical forms of encounter through noise.
- ItemChallenges of separation for refugee filmmaking. Introduction(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Sorbera, Lucia; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Sorbera, LuciaThis dossier on Challenges of Separation for Refugee Filmmaking includes a number of short pieces and visual material from those who have either made films themselves (Su Goldfish; Rana Kazkaz) or who have used film as scholars and activists working in collaboration with people of lived experience (Isobel Blomstein and Caroline Lenette; Mandy Hughes). These writers discuss the questions of ethical and personal narratives and the ways in which certain story arcs present themselves as indicative of a time, a place or a kind of experience. They consider ideas of visibility and invisibility, and of short-term memory and long-term impact. The “separation” in the title for this dossier refers to separation by reason of war, by time and generation, or by experience.
- ItemThe vulnerable gaze of the migrant: Eye-witnessing and drifting subjectivity in documentary web series(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Cati, Alice; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaIn the current media system, we are observing the increasing sedimentation of symbolic forms, discourses and imagery regarding contemporary migrations. With the reuse of videos filmed by migrants, the documentary form represents the best “yielding field” where intercultural modes of representation and visual self-inscriptions can be constantly reinvented. In particular, videos made with nonprofessional devices have drawn viewers’ attention to the capacity of moving images to bear witness to reality “from below” and, in some respects, to reproduce aesthetically the opacity and the contingency of events, even the most tragic ones. This paper examines how such a gaze, when it is embodied by the migrant subject, raises questions about the representation of a first-person experience, an experience which paradoxically constitutes a denial of all identity and subjectivity in a deeper sense. To do this, two interesting experiments recently hosted by the website of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica will be analysed: the web series Com’è profondo il mare and Un unico destino—Tre padri e il naufragio che ha cambiato la nostra storia. These web series not only represent traumatic events, but the images show clashes within the depictions themselves and a collision or negotiation between conflicting points of view.
- ItemFilm as folklore(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Boochani, Behrouz; Tofighian, OmidCodirector Behrouz Boochani offers a critical reflection on Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time in which he discusses the multilayered meanings of the film. He shares his thoughts about his cinematic vision and how it is connected to the land. In this respect, the film cherishes the sanctity of the island’s ecosystem and knowledge system and also criticises the way the Australia-run detention centre degrades nature and the social fabric of the island. Boochani also elaborates on issues pertaining to reception and the way folklore (both Kurdish and Manusian) frames his resistance and critique.
- ItemThe Last Goldfish(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Goldfish, Su; Newman, Joanna; Ewington, Julie; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Sorbera, LuciaA few years before filmmaker Su Goldfish’s father, Manfred Goldfish, died she interviewed him on camera. He was reluctant to talk about the uncomfortable truths of his past, his previous marriage, his two other children and the persecution and murder of his family in Germany. “You can watch all that in a documentary”, he used to say to her. The Last Goldfish (Su Goldfish, 2017) became that documentary. This article contains three responses to the film. The first section, “Losing Harry”, written by Su Goldfish, focuses on the impact Manfred’s experiences had on his son Harry, connecting that experience to the despair of children currently held in the Australian Regional Processing Centre on Nauru. The second part, “Internment”, is written by historian Dr Joanna Newman whose research on refugees in the British West Indies grounds Manfred’s reluctant memories of rescue and internment in Trinidad in historical fact. The third section of this composite reflection, “Citizen of the World”, is a response from curator and scholar Julie Ewington who reflects on the film’s unravelling of hidden traumas and the unspoken histories in families.
- ItemLooking for Chauka(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Kamali Sarvestani, Arash; Tofighian, OmidArash Kamali Sarvestani codirected and produced Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time (2017) while residing in the Netherlands and communicating with his codirector Behrouz Boochani through WhatsApp application. In this paper, Kamali Sarvestani explains his own journey as an artist living in diaspora and provides exclusive insight into the collaboration and consultation process with his exiled and incarcerated colleague. He details the influence of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, the guidance he gave Boochani (who had never directed a film until then), how the project transformed from its initial phases through to its distribution and reception, and the ongoing obstacles both directors face.
- ItemRefugee filmmaking: Editorial(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, Lucia; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaThe origins of this issue of Alphaville lie in collaborations between the Forced Migration Research Network (UNSW – University of New South Wales) and the Refugee Council of Australia, and in the inspiration afforded us by international colleagues and guests to Sydney (Fadma Aït Mous), Liverpool (Dennis Del Favero) and Lincoln (Hoda Afshar) universities. We have benefited from these academic alliances and invitations, but we also embrace the widest notion of hospitality, whereby the moment of arrival, the request for assistance and shelter, and subsequent decisions over citizenship and long-term residency are located in a moral environment of welcome and mutual learning. We trace and acknowledge our intellectual relationships here in so far as they have allowed us to articulate an emerging and shared recognition that refugee lived experience stands as the barometer for political civility and social health in our time.
- ItemNew Nonfiction Film: Art, Poetics, and Documentary Theory, by Dara Waldron(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Varga, Darrell; Mulvey, James
- ItemShaming Australia: Cinematic responses to the “Pacific Solution”(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, LuciaThis article analyses Australian audiovisual treatments of contemporary refugee experiences of the Australian government’s “Pacific Solution”, which was introduced after the Tampa affair in 2001. I call into question the conventional premise of much documentary filmmaking, that the moving photographic image can reveal the reality of that experience (indexicality). That approach is exemplified, I argue, by Eva Orner’s award-winning film, Chasing Asylum (2014), which aspired to reveal the truth about conditions in the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru and thereby to shock Australian audiences into demanding a change in government policy. The problem with the film is that its reliance on the norms of documentary has the unintended consequence of silencing the detainees and reducing them to the status of vulnerable and victimised objects. The article concludes by comparing Chasing Asylum with an installation by Dennis Del Favero, Tampa 2001 (2015), which exemplifies a nonrepresentational, affect-based aesthetic that says less in order to achieve more in evoking complex refugee stories of dispossession or disappearance.