British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies
6th Annual Conference 2018
Revolution: Politics, Technology, Aesthetics

12 and 13 April 2018, University of Kent, UK
Panel 1c: Revolutions, Politics, History: The Power of the First Person Documentary (BAFTSS Essay Film Special Interest Group)
Father-land: troubling dialogues in a divided island

This presentation critically reflects on the essay film Father-land, a practice research collaboration between the author and the sound artist and film-maker Stuart Moore, which investigates notions of home and (dis)placement in the divided island of Cyprus. Political and social histories, the legacies of colonialism, occupation, and the Cold War, resonate culturally and also biographically for the film-makers, as both had childhood links with Cyprus through fathers stationed there with the Royal Air Force before the island’s division in 1974, when the United Nations established a demilitarized buffer zone across Cyprus, known as the Green Line.

On receiving the 2016 Plymouth-Nicosia Artist Residency Award for Father-land, Parker and Moore spent a month as guests of Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC), in the Republic of Cyprus. Their base in the Greek Cypriot section of the walled city of old Nicosia was close to the Green Line, which separates the Turkish-occupied Northern half of the island from the Greek Cypriot South today. Living and filming here became a quiet reflection on the uneasy stasis of an unresolved conflict, which tore the island in two over forty years ago. Their families played small parts in the island’s past and the challenge seemed to be situating their film’s narrative in a ‘buffer zone’ between a sensitive and contested history and a nomadic and placeless personal reflection.

The film-makers’ dialogic screenwriting strategy draws on the French-American cinematographer and film-maker Babette Mangolte’s reflexive explorations of place and home, and allows them to embed digital technologies and methods within an evolutionary and experimental film-making process. This fluid and non-hierarchal approach enables movement beyond binary perspectives, embracing multiple positions and viewpoints, to create an innovative multi-layered poetic moving image artwork that allows the intertwining of subjectivities with political and social histories of this place.

keywords: Cyprus, displacement, essay film

Film of Dust: Marks of History
Panel 3a: Revolution in Practice: Activism, Materiality and Aesthetics
BAFTSS Practice Research Special Interest Group
Joint paper with Stuart Moore
This paper is a critical reflection on the creative potential of accepting the inevitable presence of dust in moving image production. It calls for a revolt against the seductive cult of the pristine screen image. Can we embrace the materiality of the dusty frame and its hidden histories?

Our collaborative film-making has evolved through a range of video and audio tape formats and gauges of photochemical film, with an archive of physical and virtual media stored in boxes, decaying hard drives, and obsolete optical media – dusted with environmental dirt, the detritus/data of the past. Dust infiltrates throughout the process of production, postproduction and archiving. Should dust be an integral part of film-making practice? If we accept the presence of dust in the world, what is the creative potential of dust as data? Can dust and deterioration be read as a parallel narrative, as well as the metadata of a film’s life?

In our joint presentation, we report on our recent forensic investigative work with the Plymouth Microscopy Centre, and explore Carolyn Steedman’s proposition in her 2002 work, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History, that the “matter of history” - dust - can never go away or be erased. When dust ruptures the sensorial membrane of the screen and becomes the subject, rather than the object of extermination, what potential new ways of thinking about film may be afforded by a ‘material turn to dust’?

keywords: dust, film, materiality