Skip to main content

Logan Elevate Public Program

 A digital flyer with black background and white headline that reads IDA Logan Elevate Public Program Addressing the Western Gaze: Audience, Funding, and Success. International Documentary Association (IDA) logo is on the top right corner. Under the headline there are three headshots of three filmmakers: Arya Rothe, a South Asian brown, Indian looking woman in a gray top, hair tied back- in front of a textured dull yellow and grey wall. Under Arya’s headshot it reads Arya Rothe, June 25. Pallavi Somusetty,

Addressing the Western Gaze: Audience, Funding, and Success

The “Western gaze” is not a geographically specific term but instead a concept that refers to those who watch films and have had historically more power and access to film resources. “Global” audiences and market viability are often determined by the broad profile of a Western movie-goer, which can leave little imagination for who audiences can be, especially for films from the Global South. This trend begs the question: Have successful documentaries managed to subvert the Western gaze in recent times or are they still compelled to cater to the sensibilities of the assumed privileged viewer? 

In a series of panels, IDA Logan Elevate 2023 filmmaking fellows Janay Boulos, Arya Rothe, and Pallavi Somusetty, open a conversation about cultural exchange within the film industry: 

  • How can filmmakers from the Global South and marginalized communities receive mentorship and feedback when most consultants are relying on the Western gaze to determine the importance and viability of a story?
  •  Can filmmakers do anything to expand the possibilities, in the industrial imagination, of who their audiences can be? 
  • How can filmmakers hold true to their visions when commercial viability may threaten career sustainability or limit formal experimentation and creativity from artists making work from the Global Majority? 

About the Logan Elevate Program 

Since 2018, Logan Elevate Grant provides funds to emerging women and non-binary filmmakers of color directing feature-length journalistic documentary films. From 2022 onward IDA will award $30,000 to three grantees. This grant provides story consulting for grantees and also funds educational programming throughout the year. This program is made possible by the generosity of the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.

Three-Part Series