There persists an enduring faith in the capacity of cinema to close chasms, to transport audiences – not just temporally or geographically, but to bring them closer to another way of life – and (ideally) express the things that cannot be said so well as they can be seen. To whatever extent this can be true, documentary is perhaps more prone than most to romanticizing this bridge-building, with its presumably more truthful accounts of the world, even though the subjects of its analyses have rarely been in charge of their own stories.
This year, under the direction of programmers Jeanelle Augustin, Amir George and Chris Boeckmann, True/False Film Fest launched its inaugural PRISM initiative: For two days, fifteen rising filmmakers of color presented their current work in production for each other and a selected few established arts and independent film industry figures. They discussed their artistic ambitions, the questions that informed their work, and sought direction from their peers in a space conceptualized as a collaborative response to the competition and power dynamics that typically drive pitch sessions. The tacit experiment of this forum hinged on their shared positionality: What measures had these filmmakers taken to bend an historically antagonistic form to their use? What would they say now they didn’t have to explain – carefully, cautiously – the dimensions that usually set them apart from decision makers, once in rooms where the same dimensions drew them all together, that is, their common experience as part of racialized communities?
True/False invited Kelli Weston to participate in PRISM to capture its inaugural year and develop literature based on her experience with the participating artists, their projects, and the overall impact of program.
About the artist: Weston is a film critic who has written for Film Comment, Hyperallergic, and Mubi Notebook among other publications. She has a Master’s in Film and Screen Media from Birkbeck, University of London.