Accepted paper:

Place, film, politics

Authors:

Sofia Sampaio (CRIA, ISCTE-IUL)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the political significance of filmed places. Drawing on a selection of films (mostly documentaries), I look at some of the techniques that influence our perception of a place. This can be decisive for the success or failure of a politically 'engaged' film.

Paper long abstract:

It has become quite a cliché to say that every film is political, since every film expresses a particular point of view and a point of view is never neutral. I wish to approach this question from a different angle: that of place. Documentary films are a lot to do with going to a place in order to collect images - even if the events being portrayed are a thing of the past. Likewise, activists have resorted to film to record their activism and communicate their aims, which are necessarily place-bound. In both cases, place stands out as an important element; yet, its role is often dismissed as mere scenario or scene-setting. I wish to contradict this notion and propose that we look at these films from the point of view of place. How are places constructed in these films? How does the way a place is filmed - which entails, among other things, decisions regarding the camera, lighting, framing, etc. - influence our perception of it? And how do these decisions determine the way a film is to 'affect' us politically, regardless of the filmmaker's own intentions?

panel P105
Shaping lives and places within social movements