Documentary Film. Riddles of Globalisation
proceedings of the International Documentary Film Symposium
held on September 8 - 13, 2001 in Riga, Latvia
Processes of globalization and their consequences have become decisive factors in all areas of life at the turn of the centuries, and their role is likely to keep increasing in the future. They equally affect the existence of culture and art and opportunities of their development.
In view of the fact, that globalization is associated with big hopes, as well as, - quite possibly, even bigger concerns (especially in the area of culture), the necessity to study the existent experience and draw conclusions about the trends of future development and possible strategies of action becomes vital.
Not only the film industry itself, but the society as a whole might find study of globalization specifically in the area of film particularly relevant, as film is one of the first, and, in any case, the most impressive phenomenon, which has marked the beginning of the era of globalization. The screen has become a symbol of this era, since globalization is unthinkable without it. It was on the movie screens that people saw their own planet for the first time. For the first time, nearly all inhabitants of this planet, regardless of their place of residence, found a common acquaintance who was called simply by his first name - Charlie, or Sharlo. Thus, for the second century, cinema is developing as a global phenomenon.
Documentary film has its own experience both in the promotion of globalization processes and assessing their consequences. Documentary film was the first to give the audiences a grasp of the fantastic diversity of the humankind and its cultures, and, at the same time, about its amazing homogeneity. However, each new stage of globalization (especially – commercialisation and introduction of new information technology), placed documentary film as an art phenomenon almost on the brink of extinction. Yet, the principle "Those who change shall survive” has proved to be true so far. At this moment, however, the humankind is undergoing a stage of globalization which, with its scope, rate and consequences, has no contender. How should the
documentary film change under these circumstances?
It is obvious that the answers are to be sought, in the first place, in the recent documentary films. We should make an attempt to look into not only the work of the past two years, but, possibly, of the entire 1990-s, not so much in terms of individual films, as in terms of a process, trying to see how it has documented the turbulent time of change, as well as assessing the impact it has left on the language of the documentary filmmaking and the documentary filmmakers’ vision.
This will provide a deeper insight of the process of globalization on the whole and, especially in the area of documentary filmmaking. Moreover, to quote one of the thesis of the historic Mainz Manifesto (1983) (which was one of the first documents dedicated to the issues of film during the age of globalization):
The basic rule of film history is: innovation in feature film is always inspired by documentary filmmaking. If the documentary film becomes fully commissioned, if the documentary film is unable to sustain its own tradition, the outcome is equally fatal for the filmmaking and television on the whole.
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