By Maria Chotou
In response to the planetary emergency, activists, filmmakers, and storytellers clashed their visions over how we could produce co-creative spaces at the Wandel lab festival in Berlin. A weekend of action workshops, open spaces, art, and culture around social change took place at Atelier Gardens on the 3-6th of June.
Among the many talks that Wandel Lab hosted, one of them was coordinated by Berlin-based filmmakers (Green Twenties) and students from MA in Visual and Media Anthropology at HMKW. ‘Storytelling as an act of Resistance: Artistic Intervention and Impact on the Planetary Emergency’ was the title of the roundtable discussion. The workshop included stimulus material, research findings, presentations, and insights from a range of current and recent projects that respond to the environmental crisis and provide an opportunity for activists and storytellers to network and discuss
The workshop aimed to brainstorm around how can stories transition from awareness building to action and how can creators be more targeted with modality and distribution of stories to gain maximum impact.
‘We need to think of the output and how to imagine sustainable futures, but also how to bring them out’ says Blake Paul Kendall, lecturer at HMKW and coordinator of the discussion.
Participants from HMKW were students: Elke Hautala, Hauxita Jergeschew, Melissa Blythe Knowles, Yusuf Ölmez,, and Mamo Akefetey. Others: Pavel Borecký (AnthroPictures / University of Bern) and Leonard Leesch (Green Twenties)
Short interview with Yusuf Ölmez,
Yusuf is a director, screenwriter, and producer.
His master’s in Visual and Media Anthropology at HMKW has allowed him to explore his artistic research through photography and ethnographic films.
“The program is a key for me to dwell more into the non-fiction forms of storytelling and ethnofiction. This means that it allowed me to explore the field of visual anthropology that opened up a space that combines my profession of filmmaking with another research-based perspective.” Yusuf says.
- What ‘stimulus material’ did you present at the roundtable discussion for Wandel Lab 2022?
I presented a short documentary that I made as part of our effort in the Environmental Anthropology course. It was a collective story that is shaped by the interview that I made with my participant, Remzi Oguz Gunaydin, about his approach to planetary emergencies. I also experimented with the codes of poetic cinema to question this critical situation from an alternative and emotional perspective.
- In your opinion, how can documentaries make a positive impact on society, especially when filmmakers collaborate with activists and anthropologists?
Activist documentaries of this kind have the potential of creating empathy, dialogue, and emotional stimuli. I think this can make it a bit different from research-based mediums which are also contributing a positive impact on society. Artistic research can be a method of abstraction to enrich and diversify the possibilities of other fields which strengthens the diversity of the contributions with other fields.
- How can storytellers/filmmakers contribute to the transition into sustainable futures?
There are a lot of ways to be part of this but I’d like to share my own experience. Raising an alternative voice of protest and awareness is one of the greatest possibilities that art allows us. When I think about this, I also remember how some poems, like the works of Nazim Hikmet, enriched my inspiration about resistance differently. Cinema and other mediums of artistic research can have the same.
- Do you have any advice for young filmmakers out there or any advice you would like to give on cinematography?
I do not see myself as a person to give advice but for the sake of this valuable question and my dedication to sharing personal experiences, I would say following my intuitions and intellectual pursuit with my lens and ear allows me to have conversations with more people through the works of image and sound that I create. I try to experiment and investigate my questions in this way. This creative process makes me engaged with the participants and audience through my camera.
You can view Yusuf’s short film presented at Wandel Lab 2022 by clicking the link below:
Check out the trailers that Yusuf produced for two of his fiction films: