Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Issue 18: Refugee Filmmaking

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    Alphaville Journal of Film and Screen Media podcast. Episode 03, Issue 18, ‘Refugee filmmaking’
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019-12-04) Sorbera, Lucia; Holly, Michael; Goldfish, Su
    This discussion between Su Goldfish and Doctor Caroline Linette is based on a dossier for Alphaville Issue 18 on the challenges of separation for refugee filmmaking. It is moderated by Doctor Lucia Sorbera. The recording took place at the Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia on 14 October 2019.
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    Debordering 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, Lucia
    This 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.
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    Displacement, exile and incarceration commuted into cinematic vision
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Tofighian, Omid; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Davies Hayon, Kaya; Sorbera, Lucia
    Chauka, 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.
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    Seascapes 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, Lucia
    Films 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.
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    Collaborating with refugees: Power, ethics and reciprocity in documentary filmmaking
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2019) Hughes, Mandy; Hemelryk Donald, Stephanie; Sorbera, Lucia
    Representing 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.