Presentations by Stream
Eastern European Processes of Remembering Through Film: Documenting the Past, Archiving the Future
Popular discourses describe Eastern Europe as a region with fluid geographic boundaries and caught in a grey zone between dictatorship(s) and liberalism(s), between past and present, as a region constantly emerging or in transition, characterised by change and instability rather than economic stability and political continuity. Many temporal terms (belatedness, backwardness, nonsynchrony) and a host of proper names (East Central Europe, Central Europe, Newly Independent States, the Other Europe, the borderlands, and the Bloodlands) have been mobilised to capture the condition of this region.
In this panel, we want to explore how Eastern European cinematic productions engage productively with such widely-held views of the region and identify the aesthetic means and institutional strategies used in an effort to go beyond such binary, oppositional thinking in order to produce a more nuanced understanding of Eastern European cultural and political changes and transformations. How does film production from the region contribute to providing updated, new ways of thinking about this region especially, in view of the possibilities of including Eastern European experiences of the past into existing European memory frameworks? How do locally/ nationally / regionally significant memory events and institutions reflect on or challenge established European or global memory practices?
The papers in this panel zoom in on this set of questions by focusing on (documentary, essayistic and experimental) practices of appropriating archival materials as a way to connect history, memory and film and to reconstruct and make intelligible the Eastern European past for both local and global audiences. While this practice is not new, the specific case studies that this panel brings together rework the audio-visual archive of key events and institutions such as the Second World War and the Holocaust, Chornobyl utopia/dystopia, as well as communist secret police and its legacies in order to challenge, reinterpret existing patterns of collective and historical thinking about the region both locally and globally. At the same time, these cultural productions and memory practices can be seen as an attempt to inscribe the region’s memory work into wider (European) cultural and archival practices of productively engaging with the past.