This is the Deakin Motion Lab's first year of partnering with the Australian International Documentary Conference. The winner of the $3000 prize we supported was NIGHT CREATURES | 2022 by Isobel Knowles Van Sowerwine, Philippa Campey. What are my take-aways from the event?
Apart from exposure to a massive range of people, ideas, and initiatives–and a renewed respect for the AIDC team, headed by CEO and Creative Director Natasha Gadd–I saw very clearly the gulf between academic work and the work of makers.
It is odd, this gap. On the one hand, I was schooled by people like Peter Wollen and Marina Goldovskaya, both filmmakers and thinkers, people who welcomed me as a student and as a teacher in their class. They both presumed I could and would bridge words and images, theories and films. There was a presumption of engagement in two worlds, at least. Or perhaps just the one: the avant garde, whatever form it took, bustling on the margins of Hollywood.
At AIDC I hear makers talk about the hunter/hunted dialectic, and about the hunted finally being given the tools to speak.
I keep thinking of Peter and Marina, but also of Marc Bloch and the Annales movement. Of Carlo Ginzburg and his patient and famous teaching of historical absence and method.
And so I brightly say to one person after their talk: Ginzburg went into the Vatican archives and unearthed the voice of a miller through reading court hearings, written in Latin. Have you read The Cheese and the Worms?
In another session, filled with statistics and charts and colours, films are thematized. It is fascinating. A big coloured flowchart. Sometimes the yellow bleeds into green, or the pink into orange. I marvel. Look at this. All these numbers. What works? Where are the trends?
As a scholar schooled in different conversations, with different concerns, I am looking 'askance'. What does not work? What does not fit? I ask myself about margins. About all those people and images, things and objects, moments and screenings, that collapsed and fell into the black and white lines we are not discussing. I ask if the margin might teach us more about the centre than those colours we are thematising. I ask this as an outsider, someone peering in, a first time visitor. And of course, I don't send my thoughts through the app. I find words here.