DocLab Shorts 24 Nov at 19:45
A program of short stories that would never have existed without the internet.
Review: Live Cinema Event: Out On The Streets
Telling the stories of re-imagined cities.
The second of DocLab’s live cinema events took the audience directly to the streets of Europe. From Antoine Viviani’s Insitu to Nikos Katsaouni & Nina-Maria Paschalidou’s The Prism: Krisis Greece 2011, today’s young digital documentary pioneers explored the importance of telling a story of a city by connecting with its inhabitants. Both projects were also selected for the IDFA DocLab competition.
Debut filmmaker, and winner of the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling, Antoine Viviani opened the night with a trailer to his beautiful interactive film that searches for creative and artistic ways of intervening in public space. Central to his film’s goal was questioning ‘what does all this insitu experience in the street tell us about urbanity in film?”. He began by launching the website that hosts the documentary, where it can either be watched linearly as a 90-minute documentary or non-linearly by accessing the individual chapters via theme or map.
From the get-go one can sense the film to be that of a poetic essay on open spaces within rapidly urbanizing cities. According to Viviani, strange things are happening and you get a feeling of an abstract city that can also symbolize the fictionalized open spaces within Europe. Unique to project is how all of the footage was filmed outside on the streets (entirely by Viviani) and how the people, artists, performers, architects and philosophers appearing throughout his film were randomly found by Viviani.
Insitu takes us to normal everyday places —- the metro, staircases, a bus ride, images of buildings, city places, construction vehicles — and unites the audience with on screen characters that possess different obsessions with urban space. Whether it’s a Berlin woman who chases old visible symbols of Nazism around the city, dancers in the Marseilles subway station, or an architect working to improve the traffic situation at a Parisian business park, Viviani questions different aspects about public city spaces by portraying the different obsessions his characters have with urban space.
Is it a public space only? What makes a public spaces? How do we transform old spaces? Can we change the way we see architecture with utopian projects that attempt to transform an old financial district space into a theme park?
Characters surely abound in Insitu to tell the stories of intervening in city spaces. There are city sounds performed by a Spanish composer who questions ‘What makes cities sound? From police cars to boats to every bell of every church, he goes to big cities and does huge cacophonic sounds. He stays for two months in a place and then gets the city to sound. In another shot, two guys whisper to people all over the city. A man works as a fake window-washer. And another man fantasizes about empty spaces on a map and explores them.
Antoine illustrates that despite the film existing as a stand-alone, completed, linear experience, the life of the film is extended via an interactive web component. To this day, materials are constantly uploaded by audiences who are contributing in devising their own, original, artistic interventions in our highly urbanized surroundings. The film can also be experienced via a mobile app .
From artistic intervention in cities, the cinema evening at Tuschinski took a turn to experiencing the streets of Greece in all its glory and chaos. Co-directed and co-produced by Nikos Katsaonis and Nina-Maria Paschalidou — two Greek friends that have lived abroad for many years but came back to Greece in light of the financial and social crisis in 2010 — the duo presented a collective documentation of Greece. The Prism attempts to bridge the gap between photojournalists and documentary filmmakers via a unique production method that creates short multimedia stories alongside a feature length film that documents this tumultuous year in Greek history. Fundamentally, the Prism tells how the crisis has or hasn’t changed life in some places, and how a group of like-minded people can get together and do something creative, beating the stereotype of the lazy Greek.
To tell the untold stories of today, Nikos and Nina conducted an experiment where they gathered fourteen photographers and four journalists to create a new type of narrative. As Nikos explained during the live cinema event, some needed more training than others in transforming from photojournalists to multimedia storytellers. But together with his and Nina’s help, 27 short films that capture crisis-ridden Greece in a a creative and resolute way were produced. Covering the entire country — from the Turkish border to the mountains of Crete — The Prism enabled Greeks to imagine their cities and represent subjects, people and voices that needed highlighting since they were getting lost in the noise of the media circus.
Nikos first presented the trailer of the feature film which was woven from the short snippets of stories. It should be noted that the feature film portion of the The Prism project offers a more complete birds-eye-view of the disparate stories and perspectives nesting across Greece. Once Nikos navigated to the individual short stories on the website, the range in themes spanned from activism, environment, and immigration to politics, music and life in the city. In short intervals, the audience gathered at the lavish theatre was confronted with groups of bikers interested in improving the city streets of Athens, the dark and seedy nightlife in Athens, insomnia, consumerism, sustainability, and then a starkly different scene — beautiful music in the mountains of Crete.
The colorful mosaic of mini-documentaries are directly available online, where they can be navigated by theme, filmmaker, or geographic location. Browse this online compilation for an archive of all the stories, selection of photos and interviews from the journey around Greece.