Activist Film Festivals (Book)

Towards a Political Subject

Edited by Sonia Tascon and Tyson Wils

Film festivals are an ever-growing part of the film industry, but most considerations of them focus almost entirely on their role in the business of filmmaking. This book breaks new ground by bringing scholars from a range of disciplines together with industry professionals to explore the concept of festivals as spaces through an activist lens, as spaces where the sociopolitical identities of communities and individuals are confronted and shaped. Tracing the growth of activist and human rights-focused films from the 1970s to the present, and using case studies from San Francisco, Brazil, Bristol, and elsewhere, the book addresses such contentious topics as whether activist films can achieve humanitarian aims or simply offer 'cinema of suffering'. Ultimately, the contributors attack the question of just how effective festivals are at producing politically engaged spectators?  

Category: Film Studies

Edition

Film festivals are an ever-growing part of the film industry, but most considerations of them focus almost entirely on their role in the business of filmmaking.
This book breaks new ground by bringing scholars from a range of disciplines together with industry professionals to explore the concept of festivals as spaces where the sociopolitical identities of communities and individuals are confronted and shaped. Tracing the growth of activist and human rights-focused films from the 1970s to the present, and using case studies from San Francisco, Brazil, Bristol and elsewhere, the book addresses such contentious topics as whether activist films can achieve humanitarian aims or simply offer 'cinema of suffering'. Ultimately, the contributors attack the question of just how effective festivals are at producing politically engaged spectators?

Introduction

Sonia Tascón and Tyson Wils

Section 1: Film Festivals as Platform

Chapter 1: Watching Others’ Troubles: Revisiting “The Film Act” and Spectatorship in Activist Film Festivals
Sonia Tascón

Chapter 2: Off-Screen Activism and the Documentary Film Screening
Lyell Davies

Chapter 3: ITVS (Independent Television Service) Community Cinema: State-Sponsored Documentary Film Festivals, Community Engagement and Pedagogy
Tomás F. Crowder-Taraborrelli and Kristi Wilson

Section 2: Contextual and Institutional Forces

Chapter 4: The Revolution Will Not Be Festivalized: Documentary Film Festivals and Activism
Ezra Winton and Svetla Turnin

Chapter 5: Human Rights Film Festivals: Different Approaches to Change the World
Matthea de Jong and Daan Bronkhorst

Chapter 6: Refusal to Know the Place of Human Rights: Dissensus and the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival
Tyson Wils

Section 3: National and Regional Perspectives

Chapter 7: Bristol Palestine Film Festival: Engaging the Inactive, the Aroused and the Aware
David Owen

Chapter 8: Reframing the Margin: Regional Film Festivals in India, a Case Study of the Cinema of Resistance
Shweta Kishore

Chapter 9: “Its Not Just About the Films”: Activist Film Festivals in Post-New Order Indonesia
Alexandra Crosby

Section 4: Identity Politics

Chapter 10: imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival: Collaborative Criticism through Curatorship
Davinia Thornley

Chapter 11: Disability Film Festivals: Biological Identity(ies) and Heterotopia
Ana Cristina Bohrer Glibert

Chapter 12: “Would You Like Politics with That?” Queer Film Festival Audiences as Political Consumers
Stuart Richards

 

'In their volume, Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject, Sonia Tascón and Tyson Wils bring together a range of academics and practitioners to explore the sociopolitical potential of activist film festivals. They state that their book was ‘born of the hypothesis that different platforms for political activism may produce different audiences and that film festivals (...) having an activist orientation need to be considered more closely as they “envelop” a spectator differently’ (p. 3). With this interesting hypothesis in mind, each of the contributors to this volume takes a closer look at one or more activist film festivals. The result is a valuable addition to the literature on festivals, activism and spectatorship – and the complex relationships between the three.' 

Emiel Martens, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

'Sonia Tascón and Tyson Wils’s edited collection Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject is not the first book devoted to the intersection of activism and film festivals (Dina Iordanova and Leshu Torchin’s 2012 Film Festival Yearbook 4: Film Festivals and Activism can make that claim), but it does seek to expand more thoroughly, as Tascón explains, our understanding of how spectators are “enveloped” differently at film festivals that have an activist orientation. Activist Film Festivals thus turns its attention to the role of the spectator and their visual activism to engage with issues raised in such seminal texts as Luc Boltanski’s Distant Suffering and Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others. Whereas those essays posited a particularly problematic spectatorial position in which an inequitable dynamic was evident when a powerful saviour figure viewed the suffering of a disempowered “other,” Tascón and Wils aim “to facilitate discussions that may consider other possibilities.” As a structuring principle, the editors asked the contributors to consider how “the gaze of a spectator who chooses to view images of others’ troubles may be configured differently through the context of consumption.” Of course, for Tascón and Wils’s volume, the film festival gets taken up as the privileged site of this image consumption.' 

Liz Czach (University of Alberta), Frames of Cinema Journal
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