This paper looks at new articulations of the subject found in documentary films about the Indignado or 15-M (15 May) movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. These movements rejected representation in favor of a call for direct democracy on a political level. The paper suggests that their rejection had significant implications for documentary film, forcing makers to embrace new routes to portraying thought and action in a collective context.
The paper uses the work of theorists of affect including Franco Berardi and Brian Massumi, as well as of political theorists and social scientists including Jodi Dean and Zeynap Tufekci to suggest that the groups that rose up in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008 were reacting specifically to a rise of an attention economy, an economic system that depends on the exploitation of the “immaterial labor” of human affect and attention to extract profit.
The paper shows how the film Tres Instantes, Un Grito (Three Moments, One Cry, 2013) by Chilean-Spanish filmmaker Cecilia Barriga uses various strategies to avoid typical narrative approaches to character identification and development, and focuses instead on the shared space of discussion where a collective understanding is produced, and demonstrates how this strategy is appropriate for the depiction of a self-organizing movement. Other films emerging from the Occupy Wall Street and 15-M movements are analyzed to show how approaches using filmic rhythm and bodily entrainment give a sense of how these movements create new affective protocols for shared political action.
I suggest finally that affective logics deployed in these films offer a way of understanding how films, specifically political documentaries, function beyond representation per se to help open a new kind of shared political space.