Open City Documentary Festival

Archives in Non-Fiction Cinema

, 7-9PM
Oct 5 — Nov 2
5 Tuesday evenings, over 5 weeks

A new course for artists and filmmakers who are interested in using archival material in their work, and scholars who are interested in probing further into the archival turn in non-fiction filmmaking.

Led by artist-filmmaker Onyeka Igwe, this course is for artists and filmmakers interested in using archival material in their work, and for scholars interested in probing further into the archival turn in non-fiction filmmaking.

There has been a critical mass of moving image practices utilising and questioning archival material. However, many makers have questions relating to necessary ethical considerations and lack practical information on how to use archives successfully in their work.

Over five weeks we will cover theoretical approaches to archival research, ethical discussions on image reproduction, and the practical application and legal implications of using archival material in non fiction filmmaking.

Session 1: Introduction to the use of archives in non-fiction filmmaking (theoretical and historical discussion and examples of different approaches and techniques)

Session 2: Navigating colonial and state archives (How and where to access them? What are the repercussions of reproducing archives that contain abhorrent ideas?)

Session 3: Counter-archives (queer, feminist, BPOC approaches to archiving).

Session 4: Using personal and family archives (approaches to using personal archives, diary films, family stories to interrogate broader histories)

Session 5: Practical applications of archival use (methods of archive research, access, licensing and the law)

Image: Specialised Technique (2018). Courtesy of the artist and BFI National Archive.

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Onyeka Igwe


Onyeka Igwe is an artist and researcher working between cinema and installation, born and based in London, UK. In her non-fiction video work, Onyeka uses dance, voice, archives, sound design and text to create structural ‘figure-of-eights’, a format that exposes a multiplicity of narratives. Her works have been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, LUX, Berlin Biennale, and the London, Rotterdam International, Essay and Smithsonian African American film festivals. She has exhibited at articule, Montreal, Trinity Square Video, Toronto, Jerwood Space, London and The Showroom, London.

She was awarded the New Cinema Award at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival 2019 and the 2020 Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for Experimental Film.

Onyeka has recently completed a practice based PhD researching British colonial film archives and developing a methodology that challenges the orthodoxy of Western knowledge systems. She has been published in MIRAJ, Alphaville, and most recently, had an article titled 'Being Close to, With or Amongst' on her archive methodology in The Feminist Review. She teaches film production and art history and theory at Kingston University and the Ruskin School of Art.