Accepted Paper:

Interrogating Colonial Film: Practice as method  

Author:

Jacqueline Maingard (University of Bristol)

Paper short abstract:

Building on my experience of making a short film using film footage held in the British Empire and Commonwealth Collection, Bristol Archives, I will discuss the challenges of working with colonial film footage and the value of practice-based methods for interrogating the meanings it produces.

Paper long abstract:

The first part of this paper is based on a short film I am making from footage in the colonial film archive held in the British Empire and Commonwealth Collection, with the working title Weights and Measures. It takes this title from an educational film made in 1959 by the Central African Film Unit that epitomises British colonial power and control. My film cuts together sequences from the colonial film footage found in donated family collections held in the archives. It is the outcome of two short periods, working in an editing suite and looking through many hours of footage. The primary purpose of doing so was to think through methodologies for interrogating colonial film footage and intervening in the representations of the colonial imaginaries that shape it. The paper will discuss the challenges of this research and its practice-based outputs and will identify approaches and methods including the relationship between the visual image and the absence or presence of the sonic. The second part of the paper provides wider context and discusses some of the varied approaches that practice-research scholars and artists are taking to colonial film, the films being made and the debates being aired. The paper will include slides and/or short sequences as a means of framing the discussion of matters such as: subjectivity and identity; aesthetics and ethics; and the vexed, overarching question of decolonising the colonial archive.

Panel P27b
Colonial Film Archives: Interrogations and Interventions