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

dok.revueJak to vidí kritika?Na stránkách dok.revue najdete od jara 2020 hvězdokupu, v níž vybraní čeští filmoví kritici a kritičky a také jedna slovenská kritička budou udílet vybraným současným dokumentům počet hvězdiček, podle kterých dílo hodnotí.redakce dok.revue
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

starší články

F1.16DOK.REVUE
26. 10. 2016


from current issue:

New releaseOn Adultery as Mirror of Our Own SelvesBarbora Jíchová Tyson, a visual artist, who has been living in America for seventeen years, has finished her first feature film Talking About Adultery this year. According to the author, the film is an essayistic collage and represents a perspective on humanity, which holds the mirror up to us all.Barbora Jíchová TysonNew releaseFREMWhat is it like to shoot a film in Antarctica? Is it possible to get into the head of artificial intelligence? And what is GAI? All this is described by the documentarist Viera Čákanyová in the text she wrote about her new film FREM in dok.revue.Viera ČákanyováNew releaseHavel Speaking, Can You Hear Me?What were the two last years in the life of former dissident, ex-president Václav Havel like? How did he reflect on the fact that he was gradually leaving this world? Documentarian Petr Jančárek talks about his upcoming documentary film capturing the final stretch of Havel’s, life, the rough cut of which was shown at the Ji.hlava IDFF in the Studio 89 section marking this year’s anniversary of the so-called Velvet Revolution.Petr JančárekThemeEmerging Czech female documentariansIs there a new tide of emerging female documentarians in Czech cinema? What’s fascinating about the work of Czech female filmmakers like Johana Ožvold, Greta Stocklassa or Viera Čákany?Will TizardSportHow to Teach Documentary FilmmakingThis year’s Ji.hlava IDFF offered a panel discussion on how documentary filmmaking is taught in Visegrad countries. Methods used to teach documentary filmmaking in different V4 countries were discussed by lecturers from selected schools. Vít Janeček introduced documentary courses at Prague’s FAMU, Attila Kékesi represented Hungarian University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest, Viera Čákanyová talked about study programmes at Slovak Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava – VSMU, and Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz discussed documentary education at National Film School in Lodz. What emerged from their fruitful discussion? Vít Janeček, Kamila Boháčková, Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz, Attila Kékesi, Peter KerekesPoemThe reanimation of Mr. PuiuKhavn De La CruzReviewA Place to Take a BreathThe film journalist Janis Prášil compares two documentary portraits of this year – Forman vs. Forman and Jiří Suchý: Tackling Life with Ease on his blog.Janis PrášilReview Music as a Lag Between Death and InfinityJanis Prášil ruminates on Solo – this year´s winner of Ji.hlava Czech Joy section – which comes to cinemas. Did the picture succeed in depicting the inner world, so hard to portray, of a mentally ill musician? And what if it is the illness itself which enables people to take a look into the grievous core of being?Janis PrášilReviewOn Sounds by ImageThe film journalist Antonín Tesař writes about the new film The Sound Is Innocent directed by Johana Ožvold.Antonín TesařInterviewGreta Stoklassa: I Read Rather than Preach the RealityAn interview with the director Greta StoklassaKamila BoháčkováInterviewTo Surprise MyselfWhile the main competition at the International Karlovy Vary Film Festival does not feature any Czech title, the festival’s documentary section has one Czech film to offer: A documentary road movie by Martin Mareček entitled Over the Hills exploring the relationship between a father and a son, as well as the distance that separates us from others. Unlike his previous socially engaged films, the latest title provides a personal and intimate insight. But as Martin Mareček put it in his interview for dok.revue – what is intimate is universal. Marek Hovorka, Petr Kubica, Kamila BoháčkováInterviewKarel Vachek: Films Just Have to Make You Laugh!One of the most original Czech filmmakers Karel Vachek made his ninth film novel called Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy. Fifty years after Prague Spring and thirty years after the Velvet Revolution, Karel Vachek “with his inner laughter” looks back on the evolution of our society and predicts a transformation to direct democracy based on the possibilities of the internet that will allow for the engagement of the whole mankind without the need of representatives. His film Communism will be screened at the beginning of next year at the International Film festival Rotterdam.Kamila BoháčkováIntroductionCzech docs of the year 2019Welcome at the English double issue of dok.revue 2019. This winter issue looks back upon the Czech documentary scene in the year 2019 and serves as an annual book of the most (internationally) interesting Czech documentaries and articles about them at dok.revue.Kamila Boháčkovávideo dok.revueMasterclass: Sergej Dvorcevoj23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival