[Filmfestivalresearch] SCMS proposed panel: Festivals and Creative Documentary

Chris Cagle ccagle at temple.edu
Wed Jun 25 10:15:43 CEST 2014

Dear Colleagues:

I wanted to get the word out about a proposed panel for SCMS 2015
(Montreal). Meta Mazaj and I are putting together a panel exploring the
relationship between creative documentaries and their production,
circulation, or exhibition at film festivals. As you can see in the call
for papers below, we're open to a range of approaches or national contexts.

Proposals can be emailed directly to me at ccagle at temple.edu. We've set an
early due date (July 6) in order to allow those interested to make
conference plans. We look forward to hearing any paper proposals.

Chris Cagle
Temple University
ccagle at temple.edu


Film Festivals and The “Creative Turn” in Documentary

Proposed Panel for SCMS 2015 (Montreal)

Organizers: Chris Cagle (Temple Univ.) and Meta Mazaj (Univ. of

One of the biggest critical challenges in documentary studies is how to
make sense of a rapidly evolving documentary culture. Hybrid and poetic
forms are now mainstays of film festivals; they and genres like animated
docs, essay films, and found footage films increasingly challenge our
notion of what documentary can be. Filmmaker and critic Robert Greene has
complained, “Two worlds have emerged: on one side we have an explosion of
films, filmmakers and micro-movements that are pushing nonfiction cinematic
form, creating immersive, expressive, genre-bending films that bristle with
ideas and energy. On the other side, we have a film critic culture,
well-versed in fictional narrative art cinema, completely missing the
boat.” His complaints have been echoed by Anthony Kaufman's question: “
When will Cannes embrace docs like the world's other major film festivals?”

This panel attempts to historicize the “creative” and “author’s”
documentaries by examining their relation to film festivals. Documentary
scholars have done important work on the subject -  Stella Bruzzi’s study
of New Documentary, for instance, or the theoretical work grappling with
films like* The Act of Killing* or *Leviathan*. At the same time, film
festival studies as a subfield has given a compelling account of the film
festival circuit as a distinct cinematic institution that has a formative
effect on the films that circulate within it. These two areas of inquiry
deserve to be brought into closer dialogue with one another. How do the
institutional forms of the film festival generate or constrain new
aesthetic voices in documentary? How is the creative documentary either
central or marginal to festival aesthetic definition? Does documentary have
a privileged role for national, subnational, or regional collectivities in
the global cinema market?

In answering these questions, documentary studies and film festival studies
approach with two different sensibilities. Documentary scholars and critics
have generally taken the creative turn as a good object and treated
nonfiction experimentation as a rebellion against established or
traditional documentary culture. Film festival studies, on the other hand,
tends to see festivals as institutions implicated in film policy and in the
cultural politics of their respective national contexts. Rather than
adjudicate between these two approaches, we are seeking papers that can
think productively through the methodological encounter.

Possible areas for proposed essays:

- Case studies of particular festivals

- Essays examining problems of national or regional cinema

- Aesthetic and theoretical interrogations of the “creative” or
experimental documentary in the festival setting

- Contextual readings of particular films or filmmakers

- Reception study of contemporary documentary

- "Creative documentary" and its other: public television,
political-activist, or social documentary; political, human-rights, and
identity-based festivals

- Festival discourses of documentary authorship

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, along with your
institutional affiliation and email address to ccagle at temple.edu by Sunday,
July 6, 2014.
Chris Cagle
Assistant Professor
Film and Media Arts
Temple University
2020 N. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122

web: http://categoryd.blogspot.com/

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