Resisters

Digital or visual media


Daniels, J. 2021. Resisters. London
CreatorsDaniels, J.
Description

Research Questions:

What aesthetic approaches may I adopt in my cinematic practice against the background of the looming climate catastrophe and economic crisis of global capitalism?
How may I bring the past into the present in an essay film without recourse to extensive exposition and archive footage?
How might I move spectators to act in response to what they see and hear on screen?

Resisters is a feature essay film, located in Berlin and addressed to Rosa Luxemburg, the Marxist Revolutionary who was assassinated in Berlin in 1919. The key analytic approaches are located within the framework of film studies, trauma and memory studies, autobiography and theories of place, space and spectatorship. Positioning myself as a witness, my voice directly addresses the ghosts of resisters in the present tense, bearing in mind that as Mary Anne Doane says: “There are always at least two temporalities at work in film. Accompanying the spectatorial experience of the present tense of the filmic flow is the recognition that the images were produced at a particular time, that they are inevitably stained with their own historicity(Doane, 2002).”

The use of hybrid cinematic strategies of critical realism and poetic re-imagining, brings the force of memory and history into the present to encourage reflection and resistance and enables the circumvention of extensive use of archive footage and exposition. The notion of experimental begins and ends with uncertainty rather than verisimilitude. Experimental essay films aim to open the window of uncertainty a little wider to offer an expanded discussion of the subject of the exploration. My aim was to create a politically oppositional essay film where the human subjects are actively engaged in fighting for political change. The essay film may be achieved through critical realism since in this context realism may not be pinned down to the solely mimetic. I would argue that the aesthetics of the essay film may therefore lead towards political resistance.

My use of the second person singular, ‘you’ to address Luxemburg at the start of the film memorialises her as a historic political leader; in my use of ‘you’ to address past ‘resisters’ I am represented in my role as an imagined eyewitness. This may serve to remind spectators of their own role as witnesses to others’ lives. In my voiced addresses to the ghosts of resisters to a fascist past – there becomes a ghostly haunting where “the ghost presents itself as a sign to the thinker that there is a chance in the fight for the oppressed past” (Gordon, 1997). Nevertheless, the resisters are not fictional characters, and they, as well as Luxemburg are represented as ordinary human beings who were capable of heroic acts. Their stories are put in conversation with contemporary resistance against the right-wing nationalist party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) through the activities of the Berlin branch of the group Omas Gegen Rechts (Grandmothers Against the Right).

Resisters incorporates footage from my two previous epistolic short films addressed to Rosa Luxemburg, also located in Berlin, Breathing Still (2018) and Breathing Still 2020 (2020); films that are constructed primarily through stills. In Resisters this footage is reworked, intercut with images of memorials; interviews; stills; political meetings and political demonstrations. I guide the spectator through the fragmented narrative. However, my role is a multi-faceted one: authorial; subject; interlocutor and imagined witness.

References:
Doane M. (2002) The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, The Archive. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Gordon, A. (1997) Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Date31 Oct 2021
Files
Media type
Video
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Keywordsessay film; history; political resistance; Omas Gegen Rechts
Place of publicationLondon
Web address (URL)https://www.jilldanielsfilms.com/films/
Copyright holder© Jill Daniels
Copyright informationAll Rights Reserved.
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Dec 2022
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/8v599

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