Filmmaker-in-Residence is an experiment of film activism done by documentary-maker Katerina Cizek and the National Film Board of Canada. The basic idea is to “put media into the hands of communities in need” – as she states in her film. Cizek has followed for months mental health nurses going into peoples’ houses, she has followed a HIV team all the way to Africa… and out of hours of recordings she has composed an elegant photo/audio-documentary and several short films. All of those are accessible via her web-documentary (it has also been released as a DVD).
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Filmmaker-in-residence is a very powerful project. It works well because the topics are very strong (mental illness, HIV, photo activism etc…) but also because it has a strong linear narrative. Although the video use is scarce (most of it is composed of photos and text – with some audio) the navigation is completely linear: you basically can go “next” or “previous” (with the exception of a menu that allows you to jump). The strength of the narrative is such that most people go all the way to the end of it – or at least, I did.
From the point of view of its interactive interest, the project is quite banal. But the photos are great, the text is long but compelling and the navigation is simple and clean. Interestingly enough the project is circular: it finishes where it starts. No surprises that it won the 2008 Webby Awards.
But for me Filmmaker-in-residence is more a tour de force from an ideological point of view than from a technical one. Cizek clearly believes that media needs to go back into the hands of the people that are normally neglected by our society. She sees her project as an alternative model of media-making. Following the tradition of cinema verite and participatory documentary she challenges new media to be even more useful to give back power to the people that are not heard by our society. Filming inner-city health is not about her showing us “the others”, but about giving people a way to exist and express themselves. Media here is used for change, not for voyeurism.
A very courageous project.
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 6th, 2007