The Future of Documentary Film Through the Eyes of Mike Hoolboom

Mike Hoolboom on images and the future of documentary film

Fascination (Mike Hoolboom, 2006)

Canadian avant-garde filmmaker Mike Hoolboom was a guest at Jihlava IDFF for the first time back in 2005. Two years later his film Fascination was presented and it is no coincidence, that the competition for experimental films bears the same name. Fascination, will be presented once again this year at the festival in the essay section Ji.hlava Manifesto on Saturday, October 29 at 20:30 at the Dukla cinema.

I've been thinking a lot about when actually, in which moment and under what circumstances, images appear. The problem with film lay in the fact that too many technical, complicated mechanical and chemical processes play a role in it. These held the nature of the world in a forceful grip until they squeezed out some kind of a ponderous premise.  Video is entirely different. The problem of video lies in the fact that the images, or at least their promise, appear too soon. Look at me- and now I have you, here on display. But that is only an illusion, just the glimmer of an image. I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that in the films, which surround me, there are absolutely no images. Sometimes they are avant-garde, but without pictures. Other times it is the news on television, and just like any news, completely without images. People do not know how to look, so they cannot even show anything, they have nothing to show. Yet there is so much that needs to be seen, but people think that if they wave a camera in front of someone's face, in front of a wall or at an event, images will appear automatically. I do not believe that. After all, those are no images, no real images, just places where the images could have been, if there were any. Those are just empty frames acting as placeholders for pictures.

The text was published in the 2nd issue of the festival dok.revue in 2005.

Will the documentary cinema still be around in twenty years? And if so, in what form?

The future is a terrible business.  Even the telephone monopolies never dreamed of the central place the phone would occupy in our culture. Movies feel like memorial art, a practice of grieving and bearing witness to past events. How to re-imagine them as science fiction?

I believe the documentary form of the future will be led by the psychodrama experiments of Dr. Moreno, the founder of “psychodrama.” Instead of laying out one’s problems in the company of a good doctor, Moreno staged public events where people acted out their family traumas using audience volunteers. Is it just a coincidence that the words for doctor and documentary share the same root? Surely the doc of the future will make a place for its viewers’ woundings, immersing this gender-free being into a hothouse environment where they will be challenged to bear witness, or merely survive. Of course, there will be no more “directors” and the illusion of a separate self will vanish as new forms of social media and the struggle against climate change underline interdependence.

Mike Hoolboom





more articles from a section:  Survey

F5.16Will documentary cinema still be around in twenty years? And if so, in what form?On the occasion of 20th anniversary of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival we have invited our guests to join us in contemplating the future of documentary cinema.
F4.16Will documentary cinema still be around in twenty years? And if so, in what form?Contemplating the future of documentary cinema by Michal BregamtMichal Bregant
F4.16Will documentary cinema still be around in twenty years? And if so, in what form? Part 2On the occasion of 20th anniversary of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival we have invited our guests to join us in contemplating the future of documentary cinema. Part 2Khavn De La Cruz
F3.16Will documentary still be around in twenty years? And if so, in what form? Part 1On the occasion of 20th anniversary of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival we have invited our guests to join us in contemplating the future of documentary cinema.
F2.16Will documentary still be around in twenty years? And if so, in what form? The director of Jihlava IDFF answers the visionary questionMarek Hovorka
6.15Annual Survey: Film & Book / part 3Which documentary and book influenced Czech filmmakers, producers, theorists, historians, pedagogues the most in the previous year, and why?
6.15Annual Survey: Film & Book / part 2Which documentary and book influenced Czech filmmakers, producers, theorists, historians, pedagogues the most in the previous year, and why?
6.15Annual Survey: Film & Book / part 1Which documentary and book influenced Czech filmmakers, producers, theorists, historians, pedagogues the most in the previous year, and why?
f1.15Most Interesting Items in the 19th annual Jihlava IDFF Program According to Festival GuestsWhat do filmmakers and festival guests look forward to the most and what are the things you definitely should not miss.Jitka Lanšperková
f.14Festival IdentityThe meeting of festival directors and programmers from all over the world makes Jihlava a special place for developing ideas on how to use film festivals as a crucial place for creative cinemaPřemysl Martinek

starší články

F1.16DOK.REVUE
26. 10. 2016


from current issue:

New releaseShooting About KunderaDocumentarian Miloslav Šmídmajer describes the process of making a documentary about Milan Kundera with the working title “Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance.” Miloslav ŠmídmajerThemeNest in the bedroomPeter Hames, well-known British film historian and author of the book The Czechoslovak New Wave sent his remembrance to Karel Vachek to our magazine.Peter HamesThemeNever stop laughingPaolo Benzi, the Italian film producer and founder of the independent film production company Okta Film, describes for dok.revue how he met famous Czech documentary filmmaker Karel Vachek, who passed away last year. Paolo Benzi is also the main tutor of the Emerging producers in Ji.hlava IDFF.Paolo BenziThemeBehold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightenedIn this English issue of dok.revue we have collected some remembrances to Karel Vachek, the respected Czech documentarist who died in December 2020 at the age of 80. One of the contributors is Olaf Möller, a well-known film theorist and critic collaborating with many renowned film magazines (Film Comment or Sight & Sound), film museums and festivals (e.g. Il Cinema Ritrovato or International Film Festival Rotterdam).Olaf MöllerThemeEvery human being should get to wear comfy shoesThe Czech documentarist Karel Vachek was a chairperson of the jury at Yamagata international documentary film festival (YIDFF) in 2009. The board member of YIDFF and the former director of this festival, Asako Fujioka, has a remembrance of him smoking his pipe and going to the mountains with Japanese poet and filmmaker Yoshimasu Gozo to recite poetry to the skies.Asako FujiokaThemeLike the dog on the beach...American film historian Alice Lovejoy writes her remembrance of Karel Vachek, the remarkable Czech documentarist to whom we dedicate this English issue of dok.revue.Alice LovejoyInterviewThe times of lifelong careers are overAn interview with documentarian Jindřich Andrš, whose film A New Shift won the Czech competition section Czech Joy at Ji.hlava IDFF2020.Vojtěch KočárníkInterviewGoing to the Polish Turf with Our Own TeamInterview with documentary filmmakers Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák about their latest joint film project Once Upon a Time in Poland that shows how religion and faith are misused in contemporary Poland for mass manipulation and political purposes. The film‘s Czech premiere was held as part of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2020.Kamila BoháčkováIntroductionDok.revue 1.21This issue is dedicated to the doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel VachekKamila Boháčková