Reduced to temporary guests, victims, threats, or enemies, those who are forced to seek refuge have to navigate a political minefield. To seek recognition in the public sphere is an especially treacherous endeavor under these conditions. Faced with a range of imposed identities–including the refugee label itself–the quest for “more visibility” through documentary images is fraught with contradictions for the displaced. This article considers the ways in which filmmakers and artists with experience of displacement work with documentary methods and forms in the face of these extreme difficulties. As they challenge and seek alternatives to conventional forms of documentary, a range of new expressions and tendencies can be discerned in the wake of “The European Refugee Crisis,” from so-called participatory documentary to essayistic and more experimental approaches. The article discusses, among other films, Purple Sea (2020), Midnight Traveler (2019), and My New European Life (2019).
Poetics of Refraction: Mediterranean Migration and New Documentary Forms
Christian Rossipal is a filmmaker and PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. His research interests include media, migration, and minor cinemas. Christian is a member of the artist-activist collective Noncitizen.
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Christian Rossipal; Poetics of Refraction: Mediterranean Migration and New Documentary Forms. Film Quarterly 1 March 2021; 74 (3): 35–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2021.74.3.35
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