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Film Nights

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One of the early blog posts I did, entitled IOPS Presents..., was about ideas that had come up during the first (and as of yet only) meeting of IOPS members from the Netherlands, now four years ago. We were brainstorming about what we could actually do concretely, and one of the ideas was to hold informational meetings on topics that are of interest to a wider group of concerned people and relevant to the IOPS mission and vision. And one of the forms that might take was that of a film night.

Several IOPS chapters have actually organized such film nights.

In 2013, IOPS Vienna screened critical documentaries related to the effects of urbanization (Creativity and the Capitalist City; Slumming it).

IOPS Victoria (effectively IOPS Melbourne) even had a project dedicated to public film screenings: Partici-opticon Film and Documentary Screenings.

If the local conditions are right, holding a series of documentary film screenings, say monthly, is something two or three members can easily arrange between themselves. You don’t need an active chapter for that. The co-organizers do not even have to be actual members; sympathizing buddies will do just fine. Many places have community spaces or similar that can be used at no or nominal cost, as well as ways of advertising non-commercial community events. A “pay what you can spare” kitty will usually suffice to defray the costs.

A typical format might be: a one-minute (at most) introduction by the organizers in which they announce the format and invite the audience to stay for a discussion after the screening; the screening itself; a brief break (say 10 minutes) in which attendants can refresh themselves and avail themselves of rehydrating refreshments (such as beer); and finally the discussion among those who remained, which should start off with a round in which everyone can introduce themselves and mention points they feel worth discussing. One person should moderate the discussion if necessary, which mainly amounts to making sure that people have the chance to finish what they were saying regardless of any interruptions, and deciding when it is time to wrap up.

Why don’t we set up an IOPS-wide project to facilitate this? In the project we can then identify, review and discuss titles that are suitable for screening on such film nights. We can also exchange experiences about what works and what doesn’t (which may also depend, of course, on local conditions). As a modest start, I’ve uploaded a (haphazardly collected) list of possible titles for screening to the Resources section. (Look for “List of Documentary Film Titles”).

One possibility is to set up a brand-new project, but we can also repurpose the existing dormant Partici-opticon project. The former project coordinator, Tim Ström, is too occupied the coming year with urgent duties to resume that role, but has told me that he is cool with reuse of the project with a wider scope.

In either case, we’ll need someone to step forward to assume the role of project coordinator, a role that does actually not entail more than promptly “approving” members who wish to join (because the current website software does not allow us to set up open projects). What is more important, we’ll also need a few members who are sufficiently enthusiastic about this whole idea to bring the project to life and keep it alive. If you’d like to contribute to that, please let the rest of us know through your comments, so that we can have an idea if the project will be viable.

Discussion 11 Comments

  • Timothy Erik Ström 17th Nov 2016


    Yes, in Melbourne we ran a series of film nights, some of which were rather successful. The format Lambert mentions above seemed to work in our context. Adding to it, it help if the core organisers had done a bit of research on the film to tease out some interesting threads for potential elaboration in the discussion. In our experience this required pre-watching the film together, having a chat about it afterwards, and then allow a few days to pass where you can mull it over, bolstered by bit of research to follow up any specifics. Something like this process is very helpful for facilitating a discussion after the screening, which is a crucial part of the film screening practice.

    In our experience the discussion sections varied considerably depending on the specifics of the group dynamics; some groups wouldn’t engage much, others would be passionate, others again would veer of on wild potentially irredeemable tangents. Hence the importance of a designated facilitator to keep the discussion flowing well, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to speak if they choose, and that the discussion is not dominated by a couple of loud people.

    One film that I would highly recommend it ‘Samsara’ (2011). This provocative and powerful visual documentary is deeply radical in its scope and implication, and it has no dialogue at all, thus making it open to multiple interpretations that play out differently in discussion from more textually themed films.

  • Claire Bruhn 17th Nov 2016

    Great idea, let me know if I can help.

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Nov 2016

      We should wait for two, three more people to volunteer help; then we can set the project on the rails and in motion. (I’m trying to follow the process I recommended myself in So You Want to Start a Group).

    • Rod 18th Nov 2016

      Perhaps we could create a content box on the international page called 'Project proposals', with links to blogs or forum topics that are meant to garner support for a new project? This way there may be more time to get enough volunteers.

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Nov 2016

      That seems like an excellent idea.

      Can you think of a way for proposers to register their proposal for inclusion in the box, other than dropping the website admin a line?

    • Rod 18th Nov 2016

      I don't see any way they could do it themselves, but the task of maintaining the list should be in the hands of the content curators I think. They are supposed to maintain the front page, are they not?

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Nov 2016

      One of their tasks is to ensure it is kept interesting enough to make it rewarding to visit it regularly. If they can do their thing without having to request intervention by others, that is better. I guess that means making them admin for the “international chapter”.

    • Rod 20th Nov 2016

      Yeah, except making someone admin for the 'international chapter' seems only possible if you make them 'super-admin', which means they can access all the admin functionality built into the website, at any level. I personally have no problem with this, but perhaps a proposal for this should be created first. Another solution might be to create a new admin category, specifically designed for this role. But this would require a software change.

      In any case, for now I've created the context box.

    • Lambert Meertens 20th Nov 2016

      There is also the admin status on the Plesk Parallels Panel, but I do not know which admin functionality belongs to which kind of admin.

      This is getting to be too much of an off-topic thread, so perhaps it should be move to a new forum topic on the Site forum with some name like Super Admin Functionality.

    • Rod 20th Nov 2016

      Moving the thread is easier said than done. I'll stop posting in this thread at least.

    • Rod 23rd Nov 2016

      I'm gonna contradict myself by adding another comment :)

      I was wrong, it is possible to make someone admin of the international chapter without making them super-admin. I was confused because we don't have anyone like that at the moment.

      So problem solved I guess. The only thing that's missing from their toolbox which would make sense to have is the ability to determine how many items are shown in the 'latest blogs', etc boxes. They also cannot send out newsletters, but I think that makes sense.