Film as Research

The third film in our series is by Huw Wahl, and examines the use of photography in the Israel/Palestine conflict, it’s called Negotiating Representation in Israel and Palestine:

The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the most infamous in the world, continually visited by foreign journalists wishing to gain a new angle on the situation there. But what of the photographers living and working in the region; how do they negotiate the issues of victimhood, narrative, representation and the problematic nature of image-making in an area that supplies the world with thousands of photographs and videos every day?

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When I am working on a project I often feel like I do when entering a shopping mall, or when I walk around foreign cities or even just stand in a supermarket – I feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice offering itself to me, I am inundated with impressions. I don´t know what to take in or what to ignore. Similarly, when filming, I ask myself where to start, what to focus on. When have I filmed enough, and whilst editing, what do I need to leave out even though I might consider it essential? These are all relevant issues, and there is no easy solution. In the end it comes down to subjective selection processes that enable us to make decisions, but there will never be any certainty you made the right choice. Yet often I feel that by focusing on one preliminary question, a lot of these dilemmas could be simplified. What makes us grasp an issue to a fuller extent is the choice of our research tools and the familiarity with our subject. Just like writing a shopping list before doing groceries, asking ourselves before we start work on a project if it makes sense to use film, or if a mix of mediums or the choice of another medium suits the topic better, helps getting a better feel for the research. This again helps us decide when to start, when to stop, what to include or what to leave out.

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