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A Film Worker’s Search for Integrity

By Jemma Desai

Two women stand onstage, one at the podium giving a keynote address.

Jemma Desai at Getting Real ’24. Image credit: Urbanite LA.

Jemma Desai delivered this keynote address on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at Getting Real. The following is an edited version of her prepared remarks. 


Thank you for coming today and thank you to Abby and Meghan and those at Getting Real and IDA who have invited me here to speak in front of you at a time where a platform to speak—and speak with honesty and freedom—is not a given.

I want to also thank everyone who were early readers of what I am about to share with you, sharing notes and thoughts and encouragement. I have learnt so much from all of you and am grateful for your guidance and friendship. In the words of Mariame Kaba, “Everything worthwhile is done with other people.”

I was invited to speak about anything I wanted, and I was invited, I think, because of my willingness to speak, with feeling and without regard for disciplinary or genre boundaries, on the gap between intention and practice, desire and choice, that opens out in film and art, and also in our lives, not just in the field of documentary, but that has particularly resonated in the field of documentary. 

I am interested in what we become through our practices, and it is in this spirit I have written and speak to you today. The form that I am going to speak in carries a hope that my words might help you to connect what you do with something wider than what you are paid (or hope to be paid) to do. I hope it can connect you to not just the sense-making faculties in your head but also your spirit-making ones; those in your heart center, your gut, the nonspecific location of your soul. 

I am an average-height, brown-skinned woman, with shoulder-length dark hair, dark eyes, and I’m wearing a black dress and a red shirt, gold jewellery, and a Palestine flag pin. I am standing on a stage in front of a carousel of images from my Instagram stories, which I shared between October 7, 2023, when the genocide in Gaza began, until March, when I began writing this keynote.1

This carousel is an incomplete archive of images and ideas that have pushed against me, changed me, even if my resharing of them has not resolved the conditions they describe. The carousel does not contain images and content I had not been able to make sense of, that made sharing more difficult, ones where my receipt and role in receiving has been less easy and less open. Images of bodies emaciated, flattened, dismembered, forgotten, tortured, strewn, scooped up with hands into plastic bags, gathered into shrouds and embraced, tended to, or still buried deep within rubble. There are no white phosphorus burns in this carousel, which cause cylindrical spaces inside bodies where there was once flesh. 

There is no record here telling us where those chunks of flesh go. There is nothing testifying to the possibility of a threefold increase in the official death toll recorded in Palestine, as the means for accounting for life is still rooted in the terms of an old world, where the dead are identifiable and identified by those that knew them. Doctors on the ground say they estimate only a third of deaths occur in this way, another third are destroyed in unrecognizable ways, and another third are buried under the rubble of what once was.2

These images I describe that are not pictured behind me have forced their way into every task I have done in the last six months. They have shaped the way I have written, the way that I have mothered, the ways that I have shown up for and made sense of the world and the relationships, attachments, and structures that hold it and me together. As everything has fallen apart, I have never been less sure of the whole, and more sure of Frantz Fanon’s words: “Decolonisation never takes place unnoticed, for it influences individuals and modifies them fundamentally.”3

The gap between what I have seen and what I have shared testifies in some ways to the ways that I as a cultural worker—safe from the sharp end of present-day settler colonial violence—am immersed in a materiality that cannot let in the full realness of this moment.

As Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang write in their 2012 essay, “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” “there are parts of the decolonization project that are not easily absorbed by human rights or civil rights based approaches to educational equity.”4 Such approaches structure the ethical framework of much of the work of formalized cultural production and theorizing of which this talk is inevitably a part. Part of this flawed framework pushes back against the reality of resistance, failing to take seriously its affective charge and pushes back at attempts to grapple with what Steve Sailata has called a “practical appraisal” of violence. As a student of abolition, I have been taught to take violence seriously. As a student of this moment, I ask myself, if to be a martyr is to witness true acts of faith, then what are we when we witness the full insufficiencies of our work in culture?

I have been invited here to speak on a stage that makes theorizing easy, and reality abstracted; no one asked me to speak on Palestine here, and I am doubtful of what my speaking can do, for what end, but I have chosen to speak about integrity and so I cannot speak about anything but Palestine.

Integrity has three meanings. One pertains to honesty; the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. The second is one of being unbroken; the state of being whole and undivided. The third is the condition of many parts together being in synthesis; to be unified and sound in construction. In the last few months, more than ever, it is clear how little integrity in any sense of the word the documentary or any creative field can claim in its current infrastructures. 

As I sat down to think through this invitation, I returned as I often do to the work of Sonya Childress, whose writing, leadership, and practical advocacy in the field of documentary will be known to many of you in this room. As I read again her piece “A Reckoning” from 2020, I was struck by the continued resonance of the questions that she posed to the field: “Who do we want to be? What future are we creating? And what structures must fall in order to build a new foundation?”5

In her piece she presents three points of contention in the documentary field, but these are also three points of contention in being in the world: authorship, accountability, and ownership. And I want to bring these three points in at the beginning of this talk, as I stand here, on this platform with freedom to use my voice as a non-Palestinian, a non-American, and the holder of a British passport. 

I stand here as a product of British colonialism—my family history encompasses the complications of this ancestral history: marginalization, racialization, but also implication in the political ideology of Hindutva, which like Zionism roots its aims in “resettlement, reoccupation, and reinhabitation that furthers settler colonialism.”6

With this history at my back, if I pay close attention to everything I can feel at the center of my being, I can feel the imprint of a heel on my face, even as I am aware of my own being pressed on the face of another. 


Considering these differences and positionalities is an ethical framework a filmmaker, producer, or writer might consider when deciding how to tell a story or make a film, or a programmer or critic might employ to assess a completed piece of work. 

But really, they are spiritual questions concerned with the very foundations of our beings. A framework for making that could, should, map into our living. Or as science fiction writer Ursula K Guin put it, “You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”7

When I read Sonya Childress’ “A Reckoning” now, its ideas start to connect in my mind with Tuck and Wang’s ethical framework of “incommensurability.”8 Put simply, this idea helps us to put words to something many of us have felt—that what we have all witnessed in the last six months has underlined something we already knew and now can no longer ignore—that the tools and systems we have to organize ourselves, our work, and our desires are aligned with and implicated in systems of power that are complicit in this genocide even if we vow that we, and our work is not. 

As these systems violently reassert themselves even as the bloody violence that props them up is revealed and disavowed again and again, many of us wonder if our ongoing political commitments could ever align with the current ways that we are permitted (and permit ourselves) to make. 

During this time, it has been hard to not collapse into the jaws of nihilism, to feel that nothing matters, or it has been easy to fall prey to busywork, to organize around the existing architecture of spectacle in which our work sits, to insist on their possibilities even as time and again we are shown that what happens on stages, screens, and spaces we have dedicated ourselves to creating cannot affirm the life we seek to affirm. 

All the while integrity, or the search for it, becomes in itself a privilege—another measure by which to dehumanize others. These “others” are not those who refuse it (which would be accountability) but are those to whom it is refused—the ultimate abstracted evasion of human responsibility. 

In the words of Mohammad El-Kurd:

Distracting questions [in our field about open letters, who has or will sign them, where history must begin, who wears a pin to the awards, who boycotts, or does not, who uses their platform to speak]feed the discursive loop that prioritizes a conjectural “day after” over the material present. But here, in the present, there are more pressing questions: What are the mental and muscular consequences of being forced to transform a taxi into a hearse? What becomes of the nurse whose shift is interrupted by the arrival of her husband’s corpse on a stretcher? What about the father carrying what remains of his son in two separate plastic bags? What happens to him after all of this death, once he is alone and away from the cameras? What kind of man will the boy carrying his brother’s limbs in a bag grow up to be?9

Or as he wrote in poetry in 2021,

I’ve been meaning to eat today / but I spent a thousand mornings since sunrise / insisting upon my integrity.10

What El-Kurd witnesses for himself and his people is that what we are constituted of is not what the nation-state and its structures of knowing say is real but rather comes from the knowledge production of our spirits and what we feel to be real. 

We are our perceptions, our senses, our sense making, which happens through our bodies and through our experiences of the world and of each other. 

We are all, filmmakers or not, film industry or not, implicated in making the real for each other. 

This reality shaping should know no borders and should be a given, yet here we are today, people usually active in constructing the narrative of the real, reduced to passively watching a live-streamed genocide unfold on screens we have no hand in mediating. How do we contend with questions of authorship, accountability, and ownership in this kind of documentary reality? What, if anything, do our practices in image making and circulation reveal about the currency of images at this time?

As image makers concerned with violence or its causes, filmmakers might be practiced in carefully organizing the image, situating it around their vision, the dignity of its central concern, or the film’s purpose in the world. 

As a programmer, I am interested in the possibility of image to create an immediacy of embodied feeling; as a writer and somatic facilitator, I am interested too in the language that organizes that feeling. 

As a facilitator, I invite people to purposefully organize themselves in height, width, and depth; past, present, and future; dignity, belonging, and safety around what they care about, to have this inform and fill out their psychobiology which forms their sense of reality.11 

Part of this is rooted in sensation, but part of it inevitably is in language. 

At a time when not just endless image circulation, but also statement-making and liberal equivocation, continuously change the points at which the real is constituted, it is hard to believe in the vitality of language. I wonder if the thing that has killed language at this moment is its mobilization in the project of linearity, the constant reliance on meaning-making through that which is countable and measurable. In this, is the denial of simultaneity; of the temporal, sensorial, and embodied dimensions in which language exists. 

This is the space where the image reenters.

In recovery, therapists often speak of playing the tape all the way through to keep us attached to being accountable to our actions and choices.12 I wonder what the tape will show when the statements we have signed in these past months are found in the archives? Will it show we organized around the center and dignity of our creative instincts, what we knew deep down to be true about how inherited narratives can be constructed and remade for new ends, or around an old concession which we were told was reasonable? 

During these months of letter signing, I wonder if the souls of those of us convinced we are concerned with the real will survive our need to concern ourselves with the fiction of the nation-state; having become embroiled, sometimes against our better judgement, in the performance of condemning, conceding, appeasing in the hope of mobilizing across difference.13

In this compromised hope have we forgotten the determination of form? 


Formal choices in our filmmaking are intentional. We take differences seriously when we make formal choices. Those who make work that pushes against established norms know that flattening the form of our making flattens what can be said even if it means it can be said to more people. So how can we take form seriously when we assemble our demands as artists and filmmakers against genocide that needs all of us to resist? 

In the context of statement-making, what are the effects of hard lines between affect/integrity and neutrality/partiality? How do they manufacture denial where there is none, generate fear from moments of collective (cou)rage, and collapse to the idea that violence emerges from a vacuum of reasonableness (not the violent, everyday suppression of ordinary life)?

In The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin reshapes the narrative of utility, telling us the first tool was in fact the basket rather than the spear. We were gatherers before we were dominators. Before we were heroes or perpetrators searching for victims, we were in fact recipients, two hands cupped together to hold, a mouth open to receive and to share. A story can be a spear, Le Guin teaches us, or it can be a receptacle. If we use the point of a story to wound, or to draw the blood of attention, that is one way, but we can also use a story to gather, to assemble, to rouse, and to soothe.14 

I thought of this distinction when ten programmers at Hot Docs released a statement about their resignations, which they ended by writing,

films are the penicillin to what ails the world because they hold the mirror up to our shared experience: Fiction lets you escape, documentary confronts. We can’t dream, change, or do better until we see who we are.15

I think about this sureness in the distinction of the work that is done in the field of documentary. What is more truthful about the building of narrative when we want to confront than when we want to escape? What more does it allow us to see about ourselves? What if the two were closer together than we might let ourselves imagine? 

Journalists from Gaza filming from within their experiences have generated a reality that Western media would dismiss as partisan, truths that feel as if they should be fiction, and have conjured poetry from the deep well of knowing that their experiences contain. There is nothing I have seen that is more spiritually true than the image of a man cradling his dead grandchild and speaking to her as if she were alive, gently telling her, “You are alive and as beautiful as the moon, you are the soul of my soul.” 

Nothing has more challenged the reality formed through the affective distance of Western journalism and its form of the real, of truth itself, than this image of a man’s tender, poetic attempt at the retrieval of the impossible to retrieve. In this attempt at poetic fiction, he recovers for himself a documentary humanity from those that would (and have) taken it from him and others like him.16 

If testimony and poetry live so closely together in order to defend life where there is so much violence, then what use is the distinction between them anymore?


In his speech “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity,” James Baldwin begins by introducing the idea that the integrity of an artist is an analog for the integrity of aliveness—of being human. In it he reclaims the utility of language and story as a guide for practice even as he affirms their emptiness as simple theory. I’m going to quote Baldwin here at length. He says,

I really don’t like words like “artist” or “integrity” or “courage” or “nobility.” I have a kind of distrust of all those words because I don’t really know what they mean, any more than I really know what such words as “democracy” or “peace” or “peace-loving” or “warlike” or “integration” mean. And yet one is compelled to recognize that all these imprecise words are attempts made by us all to get to something which is real, and which lives behind the words. Whether I like it or not, for example, and no matter what I call myself, I suppose the only word for me, when the chips are down, is that I am an artist. There is such a thing. There is such a thing as integrity. Some people are noble. There is such a thing as courage. The terrible thing is that the reality behind these words depends ultimately on what the human being (meaning every single one of us) believes to be real. The terrible thing is that the reality behind all these words depends on choices one has got to make, for ever and ever and ever, every day.17

The intentional practice of choice is the first thing we disavow when we give up our integrity.

Choice disappears, or at least seems to, when we are constricted or when old choices are no longer available or when scarcity becomes the predominant narrative, when our work becomes what Audre Lorde called a “travesty of necessities” and not a means to affirm life.18 

This distinction between ascetic necessity and abundant affirmation in our field is presented as an issue of scarce resources and plentiful risk, but what if this distinction were an intentional act of warfare on our imaginations repackaged as necessary collateral damage? 

What I mean is, if, as is often said, Palestine is really freeing us, then how do we articulate that process in the now, in the contexts in which we work? 

Or as Gargi Bhattacharya, scholar of racial capitalism who has also written about political heartbreak, writes, “Palestinians in their liberation struggle reveal the fictions of our freedom. The reach of occupation and forces that further that occupation.”19

When I extend her words, I understand that what they mean for me, for us, is that the limits of our ability to engage with the issue of Palestine—embroiled as it is in an intersection of violences, from settler colonialism, to imperialism, to state violence, to racism, labour struggles, and more—is a litmus test for the limits of our desires for the transformation of our conditions: working and living, shared and distinct, always interdependent. 

More specifically for today, there is a spectrum of freedom that the issue of Palestine reveals which raises questions of narrative directly relevant to the role of documentary and what it might do. 

The building of narrative is a series of choices. And these choices form and are formed from our integrity. 

What we believe to be real. 

Decolonial theorists teach us about imperial power’s force on the very conception of the human: that the intersections of race, location, and time together inform what it means to exist. Do we believe in the confronting, unsettling truth and dignity of human resistance as a form of aliveness or the more respectable, comforting fiction of human “resilience” with neatly hidden scars? 

As we make sense of this moment and it transmutes into another, what films will be commissioned and platformed and deemed acceptable, what truth will be allowed to be confronted, and which fiction will we escape into? In the realm of documentary, how will we shape together what we all collectively believe to be real, what projection of humanity will emerge from this belief?

Like the caregiver of a small child, or anyone with whom we are in a relationship of care, filmmakers, writers, programmers, distributors, audiences are in the business of validating the real in some way. 

By the act of witnessing a story, a subject, we enter into a relationship that might avow or disavow someone’s realness. The belief in being real and the power to confer that to others is a gesture of shared humanity; taking it away from someone is an act of profound soul loss. 

Who can forget the TikTok videos of Israeli Occupation Force soldiers with their trophies looted from Palestinian homes, of young Israeli women donning comical makeup to mock Palestinian suffering? Who can forget the children rounded up outside Al-Shifa hospital—later to be razed to the ground amongst a litany of war crimes—to take part in a press conference to declare their humanity not in their mother tongue, but that of their original colonizers, mobilizing an English translation that might somehow render them human enough to live. 

These are all formal choices rooted in a belief in the real. 

At a conference called Getting Real, in a field like documentary which seeks to define itself if not completely distinct, but in some way distinct from fiction, it feels important to think about the role of form as it shapes our belief in reality. 

About how our attachments to fictions grow appendages, infrastructures, and systems of rules which in turn become recognized as regulating our actions, enforced by the imposition of relational penalties. 

This in turn becomes what we are told we must accept as real. 

Documentary cinema and its effects are made up of more than the people inside them. They are made up also of a series of possibilities, which are also built by material and ephemeral and sensorial constraints: how much money, how many people, but also how much light, how much motion space, time, and sound will we choose, in what form, to what emotional end? 

Similarly, the spaces in which we gather to share this work—Getting Real being one itself—are built on similar constraints, toward certain aims. As we sit here, the background hum of inequitable labour conditions on which our work rests has formed quite clearly, our experience of our gathering, yet still more is no doubt hidden from view.20

We have all been witnesses in recent months to the apolitical fantasies retained by legacy film festivals founded on geopolitical manoeuvres, military-backed showcases repackaged as platforms for the benevolent gift of dissent and free speech.21 Many of us claim these spaces for gathering and joy while retaining the colonial, imperialist language of their administration and allure without fully reckoning with the forfeit of this exchange. 

What is lost to the most fundamental element of human connection—relation—when we exploit, submit to, and asymmetrically award according to the inherited logics of such structures?22

Are we happy with this business as usual?

What I am drawing attention to is not new. Many in the field are drawing attention to the asymmetries in the ways that we make and circulate work and how that stops us from building coalitions and building infrastructures of freedom. The autonomous withdrawal of films from IDFA, a collective of workers organising around the desire to Let Go of the Fest, and the invitation to Strike Germany are all examples of a movement beyond distanced critique or reformist protection of existing spaces, toward an active, practice-led questioning of all of our roles in upholding these systems. 

Reflecting on Getting Real in 2018, Sonya Childress wrote about the practical work of this kind of questioning that leads to material organizing:

Make no mistake, … coalition building is organizing, even spiritual, work. It is labor that demands honest conversations about perspective, identity, history, and power…. We must have the courage to confront this pain, to uproot the patterns of assimilation and competition that keep all of our communities on the margins. By mining these sensitive areas, coming into closer proximity to collective pain, we can then move into collective healing and joy. We can begin to envision and build a new creative landscape that sees and reflects all of us, truly.23

What does it mean to choose truth at a time where it seems we are being told constantly that there is no choice and that everything is lies? When the invisible choices we have made for so long have become faster than thought, so they are buried deep in our passive actions or inaction, buried deep in the gestures we make or do not make? 

How much of the world is let through under the scrutiny of a commissioner, programmer, or distributor? How much can the steadfast determination of a producer hold? How do we gather these elements in the assemblage of a final product? Finally, how do we hide the process of that assemblage, hide that the process is rooted in relation and that this relation happens not only in a system of sentimentalized collaboration but also in a system of power, deference, and appeasement? 

What room is there to choose differently, what space is there to witness a new possibility? 

Early on in November, as winter set in, I spent weeks obsessively thinking and dreaming about constriction and enclosure. About people trapped in buildings, under rubble; of words stuffed down throats, eyes averted, connections strained. 

This suffocation was both real and imagined, a sensorial reaction to what I witnessed from afar and its effect, or lack of, on those around me. I was reminded of this claustrophobia recently as a video circulated of a seven-year-old boy who remained under the rubble for nine days. 

Already starving, his tiny body was almost all bones, yet he was retrieved, still alive. 

The video was shared to affirm the truth of life in the midst of the truth of genocide. “I see no one sharing,” the tweet said. “If he were dead, everyone would share!” 

I watched this video and thought of all the will to live, the child’s, the hands around him, that constituted the reality and the image I received. 

I thought back to Simone Leigh’s Black feminist convening in the summer of 2022, called the Loophole of Retreat. The loophole is a conceptual framework borrowed from Harriet Jacobs, a formerly enslaved woman who, for seven years after her escape, lived in a crawlspace she described as a “loophole of retreat.” “Jacobs claimed this site as simultaneously an enclosure and a space for enacting practices of freedom—practices of thinking, planning, writing, and imagining new forms of freedom.”24 Or as Ruth Wilson Gilmore tells us: “Where life is precious, life is precious.”25

I wonder how we can find loopholes in the smallest spaces that no one can see, in the cracks and fissures. 

How can we make sure not to misrecognize them in the wide-open spaces that we already know and have seen generate only partial freedom from infrastructures that we have inherited, not chosen or made? 

When we find genuine cracks, how will we help each other extend into them, develop new practices of thinking, planning, and imagining new forms of freedom? How will we not give up on the precious life that is possible from these fissures, which are simultaneously openings and wounds?

I do not know where the places we have been in the past six months will take us. 

What I do know is that we are all in this room in some way part of rendering life precious, revealing the places that it is not, and being honest about how we are all implicated in this asymmetry. 

Part of the integrity of this honesty is to be true witnesses to the landscape of what we have now, and how much space there is for us to practice toward the future we desire. 

How can we be with what is real in the present moment, and not move immediately to wanting to be the architects of something that smooths over that realness which implicates us all? 

What new forms will we need to practice towards something other than moderating reality? 

What life-affirming desire will we need to feed, to nurture, in order to not just demand but to have more? 

Which desires will we need to give up to make life truly precious? 

And how can we help each other to ask for what we need?

In the words of Diane di Prima:

if what you want is jobs

 for everyone, you are still the enemy

you have not thought thru, clearly what that means. ...

if you want ...

degrees from universities which are nothing more than slum landlords, festering sinks 

of lies, so you too can go forth

and lie to others on some greeny campus


THE ENEMY, you are selling 

yourself short, remember you can have what you ask for, 

ask for everything”26

Thank you. 


  1. In the gap between writing this keynote and sharing it, yet more images have seared themselves into my body. Between speaking it and preparing it for print, more systems have revealed themselves to be insufficient. Arrest warrants have been issued; Israel has been directly asked to stop its massacre. Yet the genocide has continued. Every time I have thought perhaps the immediacy of writing this text has passed, or changed valence, we have collectively surged back into acts of traumatic witness. I take no pleasure in its still ongoing relevance. 

  2. Words spoken by Gaza war surgeon Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, March 27, 2024, at Amnesty International UK.

  3. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. by C. Farrington (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1963), 36.

  4. Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, vol. 1, no. 1 (2012): 3.

  5.  Sonya Childress. “A Reckoning,” Medium, Jun. 15, 2020.

  6. Tuck and Yang, “Decolonization,” p. 1.

  7. Ursula K. Le Guin. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), p. 262.

  8. Tuck and Wang, “Decolonization,” p. 4.

  9. Noura Erakat, Ahmed Moor, Noor Hindi, Mohammed El-Kurd, and Laila Al-Arian. “What Does It Mean to Be Palestinian Now?” The Nation, Jan. 25, 2024.

  10. Mohammed El-Kurd. “Kroger,” Rifqa (Chicago: Haymarket, 2021), p. 47.

  11. Sumitra Rajkumar. “12 Practice: Somatic Centering with Sumitra Rajkumar: Irresistible.”

  12. Alyan, Hala. “Opinion | The Palestine Double Standard,” New York Times, Oct. 25, 2023. 

  13. Podcast, “Palestine and the Problem of Narrative with The Good Shepherd Collective.”

  14.  Ursula K. Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (London: Ignota Books, 1986).

  15. Quoted in Ben Dalton, “Hot Docs programmers explain mass exit amid ‘chaotic, unprofessional, discriminatory environment,’ fest responds,” Screen, March 26, 2024.

  16. See “Open letter from former Guantanamo prisoners to film-makers behind Jihad Rehab,” CAGE International, July 26, 2022.

  17.  James Baldwin, “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity,” 1962. Listen to the full lecture here:

  18.  Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic,” Sister Outsider (Ten Speed Press, 1984, 2007), p. 55.

  19.  See 

  20.  Ed. Note: The hotel workers’ union Unite Here Local 11, which represents over 60 hotels in Los Angeles, staged rolling strikes of venues without an agreement from June 30, 2023. On the first day of Getting Real 2024 on April 15, 2024, the conference hotel was one of 32 hotels whose management had not signed the new contract. Hotel workers picketed and demonstrated inside the hotel in the conference’s pass pick-up area. In response, IDA paused pass pick-up and moved all conference activities out of the hotel, the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, including conference guests, and encouraged other attendees to seek accommodations elsewhere mid-conference. Two weeks later, the hotel signed the 2023 agreement.

  21.  Devika Girish, “Worlds Apart: Berlinale 2024,” Film Comment, March 11, 2024. 

  22.  Jemma Desai and Olivier Marboeuf, “Deconstructing Festivals: How Much Do We Want What We Say That We Want?” Non-Fiction 03: The Living Journal, September 2021.

  23.  Sonya Childress, “Toward a Coalitional Identity,” Seen, Issue 001, Fall 2020.

  24.  Quoted from the online description of Loophole of Retreat, 2022 Venice Biennale, Oct. 7–9, 2022. 

  25. Quoted in Rachel Kushner, “Is Prison Necessary, Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind,” New York Times Magazine, April 17, 2019.

  26. Diane Di Prima, “Revolutionary Letters No. 19,” in Revolutionary Letters: 50th Anniversary Edition (San Francisco: City Lights, 2021).