The Film Comment Podcast: The Politics of the Personal
Last weekend, Film Comment Co-Deputy Editor Devika Girish was at the True/False Film Festival: an annual documentary festival in Columbia, Missouri, that has, over the years, become an exciting site to discover the latest developments in nonfiction cinema. This year, a prominent trend in the lineup was personal filmmaking—films in which directors drew upon on their memories, families, and relationships to craft something universal or even political.
Two films in particular exemplified this trend, though in different ways. Forms of Forgetting, by the filmmaker Burak Çevik, turns conversations between two of the filmmaker’s friends about their memories of their relationship into a broader reflection on the link between remembrance and one’s sense of place, the city, and the nation. In Milisuthando, the artist Milisuthando Bongela combines archival footage, recollections, and interviews with friends and family to reflect on her childhood in the Transkei, which was an all-Black, segregationist South African state sanctioned by the apartheid regime.
On today’s podcast, Burak, Milisuthando, and Jonathan Ali, a programmer for True/False, joined to delve into the making of these films and the ethics, aesthetics, and politics of personal filmmaking.