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August 2021

Decolonizing the Screen

Curated by Necati Sönmez

As Louis Malle once put it, “A westerner with a camera is twice a westerner”. Afterall, cinema started its long journey in a colonial context, considering the Lumière Brothers visited countries of the Global South in order to film the “Other”. Consequently, the early ethnographical documentary works were often associated with an authoritative colonial gaze. At present, the documentary industry is still to a large extent based on well-funded films produced by western filmmakers framing the Global South as a site of misery, exploiting images in order to satisfy the demand of the West. In response, non-western filmmakers created their own images by reversing the colonizer's gaze, and some western filmmakers ended up questioning themselves rather than feeding into the expectations. Decolonizing the Screen shows a selection of perspectives which challenge the continued history of the colonial gaze and open up discussions on the legacy of ethnographic films as well as the politics of documentary production.

Funded by MRI

Necati Sönmez works as a film critic, journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is the initiator of Which Human Rights? Film Festival and one of the founders of Documentarist – Istanbul Documentary Days, which soon became the most important documentary festival in Turkey. He has served as jury member in over 30 festivals and curated documentary programmes as a guest curator. For 2021 he is a fellow at bi’bak.