Documentary is now enjoying increased attention and respect as an innovative cinematic form in its own right. Freed from an expectation to mimic the pretence to objectivity of journalistic reporting with its formula of opposed talking heads, directors have been experimenting more with the possibilities of documentary as a tool of advocacy, activism and community mobilisation.
In a panel titled «Documentary Expanded» at the inaugural Sharjah Film Platform in the United Arab Emirates this month, a new launchpad for Arab cinema from the region and a meeting point for critical engagement, documentarian Malek Rasamny set out a vision of himself and his colleagues as «transmitters». His concern is not just where stories are being sourced from but also where they are subsequently taken to through the end product’s screening; what lines of communication and access between disparate groups are enabled. Rasamny, who is based between New York and Beirut, co-directed Spaces of Exception (2018) with Matt Peterson, a documentary that had its world premiere in Sharjah, and which was created by the pair in the hope that it will function as a conduit of transnational solidarity for the territorially oppressed.
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