Where is the activism in a committed i-doc?

Martin Allor and Elizabeth Miller
Concordia University

As new forms of engagement and aesthetics emerge within the i-docosphere, activist creators are challenged to re-think notions of representation, narrative structure, and distribution strategies. Within all of this innovation, web documentaries sometimes prioritize technological innovation over accessibility and leave us wondering who exactly is the target audience for a socially driven i-doc? And what can activist audiences expect? In what ways are politically driven i-docs part of the longer trajectory of what Tom Waugh refers to as a “committed” documentary? Does interaction get in the way or does it draw in needed newcomers? And does a non-linear form permit viewers to avoid the tough stuff – to just click away?

We will speak with the directors of high-profile projects such as High Rise, OFFSHORE  and Fort McMoney as well as the creators of interactive grassroots i-docs to better understand their motivations and their strategies for reaching audiences. Our presentation will be framed by the following questions: Just how are social issues mediated in this new online context? What kinds of new strategies for i-docs outreach are emerging and how might they contribute to our understanding of using media to mediate and mobilize action? How are the new kids on the block (the interactive designers) influencing activist aesthetics and forms? What are the new issues around accessibility that emerge within high-end models of interactivity? What are the challenges for grassroots i-docs? What can you expect in seven-minutes (the average time a user spends on an i-doc) and how are activists combining on-ground work with online possibilities?

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