Documentary Film Studies Panel

Melbourne Screen Studies Group, Presentation
Thursday December 17, 2015, 3.00–4.00pm
Deakin City Centre, 550 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Monash University and University of Melbourne
Chair: Constantine Verevis (Monash U)

1. Framing as Immanent Evaluation: Capturing Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe —  Ilona Hongisto
This presentation maps the work of the frame in capturing the transition of Eastern Europe after 1989. With examples from longitudinal documentary projects from the region, the paper argues for the centrality of the frame in capturing and expressing the sociopolitical changes that took place after the fall of the Soviet Union. The argument belongs to a larger project of moving away from the index and re-theorizing documentary cinema from the point of view of “the aesthetics of the frame”. This, I will argue, enables considering the work of the documentary as immanently entangled to the real as process.

Ilona Hongisto is an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Media Studies at The University of Turku, Finland, and an Honorary Fellow at the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of Soul of the Documentary: Framing, Expression, Ethics (Amsterdam UP) and her work has also been published in such journals as Cultural Studies Review, Transformations, Journal of Scandinavian Cinema and Studies in Documentary Film.

2. Regarding Life: Animals and the Documentary Moving Image
Belinda Smaill
Documentary is increasingly the preeminent format for rendering nature, especially animals, onscreen. This presentation outlines the substance of a forthcoming book that identifies a new documentary terrain. There is a tide of new filmmaking wrestling with the pivotal ecological debates of our time: species loss, food, production, and the problem of science. This project adds to our understanding of the documentary genre by bringing together examples from a broad array of moving image contexts, including wildlife film and television, advocacy documentary, avant-garde non-fiction and developments in new media. Regarding Life explores how films render humans and animals and what political ends.

Belinda Smaill is a Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University. She is the author of The Documentary: Politics, Emotion, Culture (2010) and co-author of
Transnational Australian Cinema: Ethics in the Asian Diasporas (2013).

3. Utilitarian Filmmaking in Australia 1945–1980
— Deane Williams
This presentation will outline the Australian Research Council funded research project
Utilitarian Filmmaking in Australia 1945 – 1980 successfully proposed by Ross Gibson, Mick Broderick, Joe Masco, John Hughes and myself to commence in 2016. Focused on the post-WWII decades prior to the proliferation of video in the late-1970s, this project will map, analyse and work to compile an archive of what we are calling Utilitarian Cinema (clientsponsored, instructional and governmental filmmaking existing outside the conventional theatrical contexts by which cinema is usually defined). After a brief overview this presentation will outline some of the key challenges for the project and some of the first steps to be undertaken.

Deane Williams is Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University. His books include (with Noel King and Con Verevis) the three volume Australian Film Theory and Criticism (2013-16), (with Zoe Druick) The Grierson Effect (2014) and Australian Postwar Documentary Films (2008). His new book The Cinema of Sean Penn: In and Out of Place has just been published by Wallflower Press