Cultural Protest in Journalism, Documentary Films and the Arts: Between Protest and Professionalization by Daniel Mutibwa

Cultural Protest in Journalism, Documentary Films and the Arts: Between Protest and Professionalization by Daniel Mutibwa

Author:Daniel Mutibwa [Mutibwa, Daniel]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Radicalism, Political Advocacy, European, Political Ideologies, Political Science, Political Process, World, General
ISBN: 9781351374880
Google: OceHDwAAQBAJ
Goodreads: 45700063
Publisher: Routledge
Published: 2019-02-13T07:58:17+00:00

During my fieldwork at the company I assisted on one of the ‘offshoots’ called Nature Before Olympics which comprised a series of short documentaries. Following up on how the idea for this documentary emerged to ascertain whether socio-political goals were identifiable, I learnt that the selection of the subject matter treated in this serial documentary stemmed from ideas and actual experiences gained while Stratham Productions worked on a commissioned five-year partnership programme with community-led projects around London. Work on Nature Before Olympics began in 2005 after it transpired that several natural spaces were to make way for the construction of some of the facilities for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The short film series documented the resistance of a number of communities to these plans both before and during the construction phase, helping them to express their emotional situation (Grigsby, 1995: 8–9, cited in Kilborn and Izod, 1997: 7). Although some participants took a leading role in the making of this documentary in line with socio-political objectives, professional imperatives emphasised the need for direction and power to be in the hands of a film director or production crew to effectively realise the film project (Rosenthal, 2007).

Chapman (2007: 15), for example, contends that relinquishing too much authorship and power on the part of the director or production crew ‘amounts to a gamble with creative vision’. In my role as a participant observer at Stratham Productions, I became aware that the company’s core filmmaking team were very much aware of this conundrum. Indeed, in an effort to maintain the ‘creative vision’ of Nature Before Olympics and to observe the conventions of ‘documentary discourse’, the core team assumed a more creative and directorial role at times and at others, they let community groups lead the creative vision. On the occasions when Stratham Productions’ filmmakers dictated the vision, I witnessed many instances where ‘events [were] specially orchestrated to make them more amenable to capture by the camera [while] [i]n other cases subjects [were] directed in such a way that their “contributions” fit[ted] in with the film-makers’ preconceived notions of what [was] required’ (Kilborn and Izod, 1997: 199). Whatever its limitations, this participatory approach not only points to a mostly skilful negotiation between socio-political and professional imperatives, but it also ‘illustrate[s] the complexity of creative documentary practice, revealing that it is simultaneously about practitioners drawing on their intuitive and embodies knowledge while also being engaged in a collaborative, social and cultural practice [implying that] creativity is systemic’ (Kerrigan, 2016: 126). In other words, this systems perspective – deriving from Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity discussed in Chapter 2.4 of this book – conceives of creativity not as the product of the isolated aptitude or quirkiness of producers alone, but as an interaction occurring among such talented producers, a domain of knowledge or practice, and a field of expert community film-makers (ibid.: 125).

However, an aspect that has posed producers at Stratham Productions huge problems concerns balancing autonomy and the demands from subsidy:

So one aspect of that is – and it’s particularly true in this country that funding is about control.


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