Cinema Politica’s The Next 150: Documentary Futurism project seeks to usher in a new kind of filmmaking that brings actuality into conversation with speculation, realism with fantasy. Taking inspiration from Afro-futurism, Indigenous futurism, speculative fiction and non-fiction, Cinema Politica has commissioned 15 short films to inaugurate this new genre. Works created under the rubric of documentary futurism will deploy filmmaking approaches and contexts associated with documentary in order to imagine, speculate and represent a “Canada” of the future. The films will be launched through a series of special events across the country in 2018-2019 and will subsequently circulate through the CP Network.
Cinema Politica believes that on the occasion of the Canadian state’s 150th year of existence artists should be encouraged to look forward as well as back. What can the past and present tell us about the future? What can the future tell us about who we are now? How can we tell these stories?
Documentary futurism seeks to respond to these questions. We hope that documentary futurism can be a new mode of filmmaking that subverts and extends Canada’s national art form. On a formal level we want to encourage experimentation with cinematic language, the creation of meaning and the aesthetic encoding of the ‘real’. On the level of content, we want to continue pursuing documentary filmmakers’ commitment to telling politically radical stories and challenging power. We hope the 15 commissioned works can engage productively with the boundaries between fact and fiction, official narrative and subjugated knowledge, as well as experience and fantasy, in order to develop a fertile space that brings together the complexities of past, present and future.
In their introduction to Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, Candice Hopkins et al ask: “Why the future?” to which they respond, “To date, Indigenous thoughts, images, and words have been omitted in discussions addressing the future, or if they have been included, it is often through pan-Indian prophecies and predictions, poorly understood, and appropriated by dominant culture.” This is the reality in Canada as much as other inside other politically defined borders. As such with documentary futurism we are hoping to see the centering of voices that are often left out of the conversation (and the film industry).
Cinema Politica’s documentary futurism is a project conceived in dialogue with artists like those featured in Close Encounters, and is indebted to ideas that have been expressed around future imaginaries concerned with social justice and equality. Taking our cues from Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurism, where subjugated peoples, knowledges and subjectivities are re-centred through representations that speculate on future states (especially popularized in science fiction literature), The Next 150: Documentary Futurism celebrates and foregrounds documentary futurism—a way of artfully documenting a space and time that has yet to occur.
Cinema Politica is a Montreal-based media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. We believe in the power of art to not only entertain but to engage, inform, inspire, and provoke social change. Cinema Politica is the largest volunteer-run, community and campus-based documentary-screening network in the world. All screenings are by donation.
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.
We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.