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Fast Foreword, The Editor's Column, Summer 2022

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

As the community-wide conversation has, over the past several years, focused on decolonization, accountability, and ownership, we at Documentary have helped continue that conversation, calling attention to under-reported collectives around the world who are transforming what the documentary form ought to be, and how it ought to be seen and experienced. And so, the Summer 2022 issue decenters what has for so long served as the foci—in practice, in gatekeeping, in engagement—and brings the periphery and circumference to the core. 

Two ensembles that have taken artistic matters into their own hands, on their own terms, and for their respective peoples are the Australia-based Indigenous groups the Mulka Project and the Karrabing Film Collective. Rachel Edwardson speaks to artists from both groups about how they stay true to themselves and their work.

The Hawai’i-based production company Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina has been making documentaries about issues impacting native Hawai‘ians for 40 years. Documentary Editorial Fellow Imani Artemus-Williams caught up with founder Joan Lander, as well as the current generation of filmmakers who testify to the company’s legacy.

Generation Africa is a new initiative from the South African media organization STEPS, whose omnibus projects like Steps for the Future and Why Democracy have both directed attention to social change in sub-Saharan Africa and helped grow a documentary culture there. Editorial Fellow Wilfred Okiche takes a closer look at this project.

Ambulante was launched in the mid-2000s as a novel means of touring documentaries to towns and villages all over Mexico, thereby building audiences beyond the sprawling metropolises. The traveling festival earned kudos around Latin America. But the pandemic severely impacted Ambulante, resulting in the suspension of operations and a furlough of the staff. Editorial Fellow Mariana Sanson reports on how Ambulante has emerged from the crisis, both with a renewed sense of mission and purpose, but also with a reckoning between leadership and staff.

The Territory takes viewers to the Amazon rainforest, where the Uru-en-wau-wau people are not only defending their land from deforestation, but are using filmmaking to push their activist agenda. Ela Bittencourt talks to both director Alex Pritz and the Indigenous co-directors about how this decentering project came about.

Yours in actuality,

Tom White