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What Is Documentary Futurism, and Why Do We Need It?

Cinema Politica recently put out a call for proposals to launch a new genre: documentary futurism, or speculative documentary. It was extremely difficult to put together a proposal for a genre that for the most part doesn't yet exist, but what I ultimately decided was that this genre should be more about process than any kind of structure, aesthetics, or style (i.e., the opposite of von Trier's self-indulgent "dogma" films).< I'm thinking now about continuing to work on the writing that I started for the grant proposal, especially in light of Reina Gosset's piece in Teen Vogue today: (more…)

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What Is White Supremacy? Who Are White Supremacists?

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kamichisholm/white-skin-white-masks The gathering of right-wing, white nationalist extremists in Charlottesville this month – at which violent attendees murdered Heather Heyer, attacked Deandre Harris, and more – has unsurprisingly garnered international attention and condemnation… including from right-wing politicians such as Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Arnold Schwartzenegger. This leaves me with a burning question: in a moment when prominent white nationalist figures feel comfortable, and even compelled to, publicly condemn other white nationalists, what exactly is the role of white nationalist extremism, such as that found in neo-Nazis groups, the KKK, and new online communities, in maintaining white supremacy in the colonized nations of the US and Canada? First and foremost, it is crucial to observe that white supremacy is not synonymous with right-wing, white nationalist organizing or identities. Examining news reports and other accounts of the wake of Charlottesville, it’s commonplace to find the descriptor of “white supremacists” used to refer to the “Unite the Right” attendees. That is not inaccurate, of course. The problem, however, is the tendency in US and Canadian society – particularly among white settlers – to only associate the concept of white supremacy with such groups and individuals. (more…)

TV & Film Analysis

The Saviors of American Crime

The new season of the television show American Crime is all about indulging North American fantasies about trafficking. At first glance, the show appears to be taking up the radical project of exploring the roles of border imperialism and the criminalization of migration on the coercive labor conditions experienced by farm workers in the US. If this was the entire thrust of the show, it's possible something interesting could come of it. However, the story lines centering the farm owners and laborers (that after two episodes, as of this writing, are bizarrely bifurcated by a questionable desire to "show both sides of the story" of farm labor exploitation) are interwoven with, and thus seemed designed to legitimize, hysterical fantasies of sex trafficking of white women and girls. (more…)

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The Role of the Documentary Filmmaker

Documentary filmmakers are not journalists: it is not our job to be "objective" - as if there even is such a thing as objectivity that one could actually practice in fields like journalism. It is not our job either to tell the whole story or give a full history, again, as if such a thing were even possible to do (especially in two hours or less of screen time). Rather, as far as I am concerned, it is a documentarian's job to tell stories that challenge established narratives, and to do so in a formal and artful manner that encourages spectators to question how they come to understand and interpret the world around them. The best documentary filmmakers have a firm point of view, but they also don't rely solely on facts to support the story they want to tell. They shift, whether subtly or radically, the foundations from which a spectator comes to understand an issue or topic. ftos_banner1 (more…)

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My Current Documentary Viewing List

As I wrap up my last documentary, Pride Denied, and am developing my next documentary on citizenship, I've decided to do an intensive review of art and experimental documentaries. On this list are films that I have seen and loved, as well as films I've yet to see (probably about a 50/50 split). I've tried to develop a list that is diverse in terms of subject matter, form, and ethnic/gender/sexual positionalities of the directors themselves. However, this list is far from exhaustive and could still use considerable expansion, so please feel free to make suggestions in the comments! I'll try to post reviews as I watch. [caption id="attachment_613" align="alignnone" width="745"]Trinh DVCAM4-4R Filmmaker Trinh. T. Minh-ha[/caption] (more…)

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Wedding or Prison? Rentboy.com and the Privatization of Queer and Trans Sex

One of the major problems with the push for same-sex marriage, as I wrote about in somewhat more detail before, is the complicity with the privatization of sex, which has been at the core of most of the so-called major gay "civil rights" advances since 2003 when the US Supreme Court overturned anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. Queer and trans sex, at least since the late-1800s, has been routinely conflated or associated with sex work both culturally and legally, and anti-sex work laws have in many places been used to target and criminalize queer and trans sex, both public and private. Toronto's 1981 police bathhouse raids are a great example, where almost 300 gay men were arrested by police and charged with either operating or being "found in" a "bawdy house," the Canadian legal term for "brothel." Today, trans women, especially trans women of color, are still routinely harassed and arrested by police for "looking like" a sex worker, simply for existing-while-trans. [caption id="attachment_487" align="alignleft" width="660"]Bathhouse raids protests, Toronto, February 1981. Bathhouse raids protests, Toronto, February 1981.[/caption] (more…)