Documentary Futurism: The Next 150

Cinema Politica is proud to be the distributor of the 15 films part of the cutting-edge Documentary Futurism program.
About the Program

How do we document that which has yet to occur? Cinema Politica’s Documentary Futurism: The Next 150 project seeks to usher in a new kind of filmmaking that brings actuality into conversation with speculation, and realism with the imaginary. Taking inspiration from Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, speculative fiction and non-fiction, these 15 films inaugurate a new genre while deploying filmmaking approaches and contexts associated with documentary in order to imagine, speculate and represent future worlds.

How do we document that which has yet to occur?

The Next 150 is a Cinema Politica project that envisions the creation of a new film genre through innovative and experimental filmmaking practices associated with documentary in order to imagine, speculate and represent a “Canada” of the future. Cinema Politica launched completed films through a series of events across the country, subsequently circulating throughout the CP Network. This unique project is funded through a Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter grant.

On Documentary Futurism

You may be asking: why a new genre?

We see at least three reasons for naming and developing a new genre of filmmaking in Canada: (i) to pay tribute to and acknowledge related film practices and artistic sub-genres that go under most Canadians’ radars – in particular Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurism; (ii) to explore a cinematic language and media arts storytelling/meaning-making approach that blurs borders and boundaries around fact and fiction, official narrative and subjugated knowledge, experience and fantasy; and (iii) to develop a space for the unfixing of spatial and temporal representations that is germane to bringing together the complexities of the past, present and future in one cohesive work.

We believe that on the occasion of the Canadian state marking 150 years of its existence, artists can simultaneously “look back” as they “look forward” in the works commissioned. In the hands of the artist, the articulation of a speculated future, or an imagined fantasy, can be infused with the reality of what has passed.

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.”

Cinema Politica’s Documentary Futurism: The Next 150 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, such as in the writings of Afrofuturist authors. 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 celebrates and foregrounds documentary futurism – a way of artfully documenting a space and time that has yet to occur.

This new genre offers a chance to reboot NFB founder John Grierson’s “creative treatment of actuality” to describe a kind of documentary filmmaking that embraces avant-garde and experimental formal qualities while seeking to convey both veracity and fantasy. In this light, documentary futurism could be described as the creative treatment of actuality and the documented actuality of fantasy. This new genre traces a kind of filmmaking that subverts audience expectations of “the real” and maps on to depictions of social reality an expressive speculation of what could be or what could be imagined. The emphasis on imagination and social justice connects with much of the Indigenous work currently circulating in the visual and performance art worlds of Canada today as well as in the world of speculative fiction, including the exemplary work of Canadian Afrofuturism author Nalo Hopkinson.

Why Documentary?

Cinema Politica is a network devoted to the circulation and presentation of political documentary because in part we believe non-fiction cinema has great potential to not only educate but to disrupt dominant narratives and activate audiences. Yet so much social justice oriented documentary relies on trusted codes and conventions like explanatory narration and interviews spliced with b-roll. We’re interested in providing an opportunity for artists who believe in documentary’s social justice potential to innovate, break molds and incorporate notions of the imaginary and future into their work. We hope this will give documentary a creative boost and advance the form into new, generative, future-looking and self-determining realms.

Why Futurism?

Alondra Nelson describes Afrofuturism as “a way of looking at the world, it’s a sort of canopy for thinking about Black diasporic artistic production, it’s even an epistemology that is really about thinking about the future, thinking about the subject position of Black people and about how that is both alienating and about alienation… It’s about aspirations for modernity and about having a place in modernity. And it’s about speculation and utopia…”

Following Nelson, the notion of futurism, when conjoined with documentary, explores issues of social inequity and injustice through speculative cultural expression – a mode or platform to imagine the impossible, represent that which doesn’t exist while remaining grounded in realms of actuality. It is the idea of a future documented, a speculated reality.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Cinema Politica is the proud Canadian distributor of Documentary Futurism: The Next 150. Visit our distribution catalog to learn more about the licensing options.

Featuring

Still from Des Solitudes
Still from Des Solitudes
Marwen Tlili & Quentin Ducados Tayeb Hadji  ·  2018  ·  18m
Marwen Tlili & Quentin Ducados Tayeb Hadji  ·  2018  ·  18m

Solitudes, or how the artistic endeavours of some create a nightmare for others who are in the minority.

Thirza Jean Cuthand  ·  2018  ·  13m
Thirza Jean Cuthand  ·  2018  ·  13m

After white people have left Earth for Mars, Indigenous people talk about their work reclaiming the land & restoring the health of the planet & their communities.

Still from Post_Cunt
Still from Post_Cunt
Lari Jalbert  ·  2018  ·  20m
Lari Jalbert  ·  2018  ·  20m

post_cunt, gender-hacks matter; a dance of monsters, of post genital focus, of playful prosthetic fluidity, of empowerment and consent.

Still from NOVA
Still from NOVA

On Demand

Andréanne Germain  ·  2018  ·  6m

On Demand

Andréanne Germain  ·  2018  ·  6m

A teenager unwillingly deletes her best friend in this bittersweet coming of age story set in a world where augmented reality has gamified existence.

Curators

James Goddard

PROJECT COORDINATOR

While James currently resides in Montreal, he has lived all across Canada. He is active in the local music scene both as a saxophonist and concert promoter and is in the midst of writing an Afrofuturist song cycle exploring an imagined first contact (the first mixtape in the series can be found here). James’s interest in the speculative arts is not limited to the sonic sphere. Over the past year he has been hard at work developing The Congress of Radical Futurisms—an inter-disciplinary arts organization dedicated to the presentation, promotion and support of art & thought engaged with what comes next.

On Canada’s sesquicentennial, James says: “The anniversary of Canada as a state is an important time to explore issues related to colonialism, racism and the kind of future we might like to have. Speculative documentaries are a great way to engage with these topics.”

James has over the years worked with radical communities in Community radio (CHMA 106.9FM & CFRC 101.9fm), in food politics and activism (Le Frigo Vert), music, performance and much more. With all that in mind, James is looking forward to bringing his futurist knowledge, radical experiences and administrative abilities to bear on Documentary Futurism: The Next 150 project.

Photo: David Finlay, 2016

Nalo Hopkinson

JURY

Nalo Hopkinson was born in Jamaica. She lived in Jamaica, Guyana, the US and Trinidad before moving to Canada as a teenager. She has published six novels and numerous short stories. Her first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring won the Warner Aspect First Novel contest.

She has also received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, the World Fantasy Award, and the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. She currently lives in California, USA, where she is a professor of Creative Writing and a member of a faculty research cluster in science fiction.

(Photo: David Finlay, 2016)

Skawennati

JURY

Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change from an Indigenous perspective. She produces machinimas—movies made in virtual environments—still images, sculpture and textile works.

Her pioneering new media projects have been presented in New Zealand, Hawaii, Ireland and across North America in major exhibitions such as “Now? Now!” at the Biennale of the Americas; and “Looking Forward (L’Avenir)” at La Biennale de Montréal. Her award-winning work in is included in both public and private collections. Born in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati holds a BFA from Concordia University, and lives in Montreal.

(Photo: Roger Lemoyne)

Photo: Clay Stang

Danis Goulet

Award-winning filmmaker Danis Goulet’s short films have screened at festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Her film Barefoot was recognized with a Special Mention from the Berlin International Film Festival and her film Wakening won the Best Canadian Short Film Award at ReelWorld. Her work has been broadcast on ARTE, CBC, Air Canada, and Movieola. She is an alumnus of the NSI’s Drama Prize Program and the TIFF Talent lab. She is the former Artistic Director of imagineNATIVE, has developed initiatives for the Ontario Arts Council – Conseil des arts de l’Ontario and has served on the boards of the Toronto Arts Council and the Images Festival. She currently programs short films for TIFF. Danis (Cree/Metis) was born in La Ronge, Saskatchewan and resides in Toronto.

(Photo: Clay Stang)

Partners

Documentary Futurism is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. We would also like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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