Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots

I never asked to be a scientist running experiments. A researcher of my own path. I grew up thinking I could do the opposite of what people wanted me to, and I would be safe. Turns out you can't just react to what happens in your surroundings. You have to act out of your own initiative, make things happen.

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Thinking of stucco

“I didn't know how to behave in front of another human being. I would get nervous and start telling jokes I had stolen off Facebook. I would pull off improbable haircuts or wear t-shirts of bands I didn't listen to. I would do all this to seem ‘cool’ and get people to approach me. “

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Writing to make sense of it all

This is one of the very first pieces of writing I am transcribing from a voice recording. I am using my phone to record my voice, planning to turn it into words at a later time. It is something that I could not do before.

I never thought recording my thoughts before writing them was worth the effort. Wouldn't it be easier to go straight to pen and paper? Why bothering listening to your own voice to then transcribe it?

Recording is one of the few ways for me to collect my feelings and thoughts—archive them in a way that feels comfortable to me. The unbiased microphone allows me to "voice" my thoughts by speaking into it. Writing is a rather intense practice. It easy to be effortlessly honest with a silent listener (the microphone). Not as easy to watch your thoughts appearing neatly spaced on the computer screen or, more or less neatly, on the page of a notebook.

Yes. There are times where words come out in a stream of consciousness while I am writing the ones before. This sentence, for example, is one of those.

Having visual access to this self-made journal is helpful in understanding the volume and content of what goes on in my mind. Archiving my thoughts, views, and emotions is as much of a personal therapy exercise as an artistic one. It is about making sense of what goes on in my head. But also making something from it all. Which is a lot. So much you would not imagine.

“Why Documentaries Matter” by Nick Fraser. A reflection.

Still from “HOOP DREAMS”, 1994

Nick Fraser is a producer, journalist, and documentary editor. Film-maker Alex Gibney describes nick in an interview with The Guardian as the person responsible for making documentaries so popular, pushing film-makers to make better work while being generous and understanding with them (Bromwich, 2018).

In the foreword to The Documentary Film Book, writing “ Why Documentaries Matter?” Fraser attempts to analyse documentaries through personal experience and by retracing the history of this medium.

Many are the possible definitions of what a documentary is, what it should depict, and how it should make the audience feel. What Fraser is really trying to find is an answer to why are we so attracted by documentaries. He does so by recalling the history of documentaries from their newborn-like status of being that genre that “never caught on in cinemas” to becoming a “recognisable cultural form”.

Broadcast television played an important role in this process, the journalist continues, in the way that it saved documentary film-makers, funding their projects and enabling those to reach large audiences. As rising trends demonstrate, documentaries are now well popular both in cinemas and online — often thanks to festivals like Sundance for putting documentaries to the forefront.

The producer’s experience with documentaries has not always been the easiest. Fraser disliked the predictability and conventionality of documentaries prior to his arrival in the BBC. However, a few years later, he was left in awe by Hoop Dreams— a 1994 American documentary film in which the lives of real characters were portrayed with such depth that, he states, made possible to think of Hoop Dreams as “something new”.

Fraser analyses the shift from documentaries being the public broadcasts’ favourite “filler” entertainment to becoming a tool against mass culture. He argues that the idea of the documentary as a binding force of society has been replaced by the idea that documentaries are made to change the world.

Despite the many attempts at depicting documentary films as fake — as artefacts mixing reality with fiction — the genre still subsists in a “crossroad of contemporary culture” (Fraser, 2012) attracting the likes of many including television entertainment, journalists, storytellers, and curious public alike.


Bibliography:

Bromwich, K. (2018). A Bafta for Nick Fraser, grandmaster of the documentary. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/may/14/nick-fraser-bafta-special-award-alex-gibney-eugene-jarecki-interviews [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Fraser, N. (2012). Why Documentaries Matter. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford.


Originally published at francescoimola.tumblr.com.

“Janie’s Janie” by Third World Newsreel.

“First I was my father’s Janie, then I was my Charlie’s Janie, now I’m Janie’s Janie.”

Set in Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1970s, Janie’s Janie tells Jane Giese’s journey to “self-determination” (Metrograph.com, n.d.). It was directed by Geri Ashur, with Peter Barton, Marilyn Mulford and Stephanie Pawleski, and produced by The Newsreel collective.

Janie’s Janie is the story of a single mother who refuses to be disempowered and made feel worthless by her abusive ex-husband. Determined to raise five children on her own, she achieves a feminist consciousness that helps Jane find her voice and navigate the welfare system in a post-1967-riots Newark.

Last year marked 50 years since the Newark riots. In 1967, a changing population had led to racial tensions in what was a majority black city controlled by white politicians, historians say (NJ.com, 2017). At least 26 people died and hundreds were injured in the rebellion of 1967. The city was devastated for decades to come (The Guardian, 2017).

Not only the film is a document of an era and the efforts of feminists and interracial movements, but it is also the first “personal documentary” produced by Newsreel (Twn.org, n.d.). Using a mix of handheld verité material and interviews, the directors make the viewer part of Jane’s everyday life.

It is a complex, beautifully edited, and decisively intense film for its 30 mins duration. The documentary has been praised by international critics on multiple occasions as “breathtakingly candid” (Monica Castillo, Village Voice) and “one of the most moving documentaries of the era” (Nellie Killian, Tell Me: Women Filmmaker, Women’s Stories).


Bibliography:

Metrograph.com. (n.d.). Janie’s Janie + Three Lives | Metrograph. [online] Available at: http://metrograph.com/film/film/1253/janies-janie-three-lives[Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

NJ.com. (2017). 50 years ago Newark burned. [online] Available at: https://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2017/07/what_you_need_to_know_about_the_1967_newark_riots.html [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

The Guardian. (2017). The Newark race riots 50 years on: is the city in danger of repeating the past?. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jul/11/newark-race-riots-50-years-rebellion-police-brutality [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Twn.org. (n.d.). Janie’s Janie (Newsreel). [online] Available at: http://www.twn.org/catalog/pages/cpage.aspx?rec=1324 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

strublog. (2013). Feminist film in Newark: Janie’s Janie (1972). [online] Available at: https://strublog.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/feminist-film-in-newark-janies-janie-1972/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Richardbrick.com. (n.d.). Geri Ashur: “Janie’s Janie” | Richard Brick. [online] Available at: http://richardbrick.com/geri-ashur-janies-janie/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

BAM.org. (2018). Growing Up Female + Janie’s Janie + Betty Tells Her Story. [online] Available at: https://www.bam.org/film/2018/growing-up-female-janies-jane-betty-story [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. (n.d.). Tell Me: JANIE’S JANIE + THE WOMEN’S FILM + More… [online] Available at: https://drafthouse.com/show/tell-me-janies-janie-the-womens-film-more [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].


Originally published at francescoimola.tumblr.com.

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