Three Dialectical Films

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These three short films were made in order to further my understanding of the theories behind revolutionary cinema by putting these theories into practice. I hope that what has been produced will also contribute to the collective furtherance of that understanding.

1. The EDL Come to Bristol

This film was made in response to the racist English Defense League having a march in Bristol. I wanted to document both theirs and the counter-demonstrations. I had never witnessed a racist march. I had only seen them on TV, and considered them the stuff of history. What TV didn’t say was that history resonates in our lives as we live them.

The film shows the connection between the racist hegemony of the ruling class and the spaces that result from the propagation of lies, spaces which are easily filled by angry, stupid organisations like the EDL.

The construction of this space begins with the introduction from Theresa May, which is followed by the introduction of the EDL into Bristol. At one point, in the train station, a racist flag fills the entire frame. The viewer’s eye is imposed upon by an invasive hatred, leaving no room for maneuver within the space of the shot. This imposition becomes indicative of the establishment of hegemony.

The aerial shot of the car park in which the EDL are situated is coupled with the same voice over from Theresa May. Here we see the material result of racial hegemony: a space in which lies have propagated. As the camera pans across, the voice-over takes on the function of a tannoy, providing audible nourishment on which the belligerent figures ambling beneath can feed.

The dialectical opposition to this is shown in the aerial shot of two bridges: in the foreground, the EDL march, over which the camera zooms, arriving at the counter demonstration on a bridge in the distance. We also see how this space is opposed through a shot from the 2nd camera, which was situated just behind the police lines as the racist march set off. The dialectical conflict is embellished by the two opposing camera angles: One facing out from the bridge, the other facing in.

We have established a formal dialectics through the positioning of the shots in the film: the thesis, imposed by racial hegemony, emphasised by the aerial shot coupled with the voice-over. The antithesis, shown in the opposing position of the camera, which in turn films the counter demonstration. Finally we have the synthesis, which is the idea of conflict that arises from the relationship between the two shots.

The 2nd sequence looks at racial tension as a consequence of racial hegemony. Again we are dealing with conflict. In this sequence it is shown most potently in the space between the home secretary’s “I am not making this up” shot, and the truth contained in the shots that follow, which shows violence as a consequence of lies regarding race and immigration.

It will not suffice to say that we are dealing with a simple conflict between truth and lies. These shots cannot be taken in isolation from each other. We are, therefore, dealing with a relationship between truth and lies. By opposing the lie to the material consequence that results from it the film exposes the myth of racial hegemony as one that is both true and unreal, that is, as an ideology, but an ideology that exists in relation to it’s materiality.

Finally, the camera does not function outside of these events as a mere spectator. Through documenting it acts as a tool with a specific social purpose. For example, in one instance the camera acted by capturing footage which disproved the reason for a person’s arrest, meaning they were, rightfully, released without charge.

The film here:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y3_ybwDOjs&feature=relmfu]

2. Occupy, Strike, Resist 2012

This film was made as a promotional video for two demonstrations against the government’s austerity measures. Most of the interviewees were filmed outside a Socialist Workers Student Society conference in London. The entire budget of the film is £12 megabus travel fee.

The opening sequence of this film is constituted by ad hominem character assassinations of various politicians. The last of these (the found footage of Jeremy Hunt at the LSE) shows the face of a man who is nervous and vulnerable. A collective voice shouts at him as he squirms in his chair. This notion of the collective voice is the precedent for the rest of the film.

The film contains a number of different voices, each with their own validity and perspective. The authorial voice of the editor has been subordinated, allowing for the dialogical interaction of the Other/s. In this way the editor relinquishes the monopoly on meaning. His transcendent perspective does not permeate the film’s content. The text itself, therefore, becomes dialogical, as opposed to monological.

For example, it is not just the interviewees who are interaction with each other. They are also in dialogue with the found footage. This can be seen at the beginning of the riot footage, in which rioters chase the police down the street as they move backwards. The voice of the cameraman (“are you fucking kidding me?) is as much a response to what was said in the previous shot as it is to the content of the current one.

The dialogical voice (of the film) stands against the monological voice of neo-liberal individualism. It is the same voice that can be heard shouting at Jeremy Hunt at the beginning of the film. This voice embraces the perspective of the Other. Indeed, it attempts to live that perspective, and in this way comes to properly understand it. The introduction of found footage into the main body means the film draws on different temporal perspectives that have been isolated by the media and left for consumption on the internet.

The film, therefore, is dialogically mixed in two ways: narratively and temporally. It speaks as much to the present as it does to the past. Because it is dialogic it anticipates a response, and in this way it takes on a combative quality. The cannibalisation and regurgitation of different media is a subversive method that is congruent with the political purpose of the film as one that advocates fighting against austerity.

The film here: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1cC2Lq7wBU&feature=relmfu]

3. A Three-Fold Attack on Protest

I was asked to make a promotional video for the Defend the Right to Protest conference. This film features only one interview, which is punctuated with found footage. My main concern was to show how, as Geoffrey Nowell-Smith says “common sense is the way a subordinate class lives it’s subordination”.

Because it only has one interviewee this film is more inclined towards the monological rather than the dialogical. For this reason it is broken up into three self-contained chapters, which at the same time fit together and make sense in the context of the complete text. The linear narrative structure is, however, accented with the overarching theme of the dialectical nature between the past and the present.

The egg-timer sound effect is a preclude to the temporal procession of the narrative. The intent is to elicit an awareness of the urgency of the subject in question. Second to that, it indicates the precarious and seemingly transient nature of our rights (particularly, in this case, the right to protest).

Shots in the central strand of the film (the interview) are punctuated with frequent jump-cuts. Each one was purposefully cut to the millisecond for the sake of adding to the sense of urgency, with the further intention of keeping the film to an acceptable length.

The countdown displays add to the feeling of transience purposefully betrayed by the text. This brings into focus the narrowing of the gap between the past and the present, an overarching theme of the film. A perfect example of this dialectical relationship can be seen in the introduction of different media by way of shots of a laptop, the screen of which displays it’s precedent: a text that was produced by an older form of technology. The dialectical synthesis lies in the act of the new technology displaying that which was produced by the old.

Here we see a different form of temporal dialogism which elaborates on that of the previous film. The past and present are given continuous access to each other. This exchange contributes to the film’s response to it’s social situation, giving it’s conclusions a forcefulness which, again, anticipates a response.

The control and closing down of space that is spoken about in this film reminds us of the control of space which is one of the major themes of the first film. We can see the common motive between the attempt to propagate lies for the sake of hegemonic dominance and the attempt to shut down spaces of resistance to that dominance.

The inter-titles in this film not only display the beginning of a new chapter, but also, by showing two different kinds of voice, highlight the conflict between dominance and resistance. The screen itself becomes a space in which the politics of power, the politics of occupying space, is materialised.

The film here: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2nVrooFgvE]

Author: Anthony Killick

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