Rokhdad-e Tazeh Documentary Initiative
Cinema has been in a close relation with social science especially sociology although this interaction barely happened to be under the investigative spotlight of the experts and the academia.
Cinema is a mutual product of industrialization and modernism and sociology to the opinion of many is the science to investigate the social relations and interactions in the urban communities space where cinema was once established. From the critics who call cinema a tool to fool the masses, to the authorities who worry for a cultural invasion by a foreign power, are using the same methods to expand their ideological supremacy. These examples reveal that the claim that the media(s) likes cinema are there just to portray and to represent the current situation, and cannot participate in the creation of social realities are to a high degree simplistic.
The role of documentary cinema in raising this assumption is even more severe in comparison with fictional cinema. Documentary cinema often with a claim to record the world surrounding us impartially tried to introduce itself as the only venue which social reality can communicate through.
Therefore, many believe that social documentary plays a key role in providing social awareness, by mirroring common relations in the society and its problems.
The Essentialist approach toward reality which occupies this particular mindset regenerates the status quo and openly facilitates the control and reinforce the power of authority.
This is the same fundamental critique which critical sociology nowadays proposes not only against their predecessors but also on the perceptions based on its ideas which are related to the notion of representation.
There are two strategies which sociologists are offering as a way out of the current situation: to avoid authenticating the reality and an attempt to reveal the relations and constructs behind the power discourses which create reality.
The sociological documentary is a term coined in the recent years and it’s a child of critical thinking relying on the methods of documentary making which in terms of functional and epistemological differs a lot from common methods being used in making social documentaries.
Critical thinking coming from the field of sociology when incorporated into the realm of documentary cinema, not only help to form a new genre in documentary film: The sociological documentary. But also paves the way to develop a more in-depth analysis in the field of critical theory.
In this framework, the critics and the enthusiasts of the documentary cinema can engage with commentaries on reality and representation which suggest emancipatory actions and intervention instead of passivity.
With this mission in June 2016, the work group of sociological documentary was established in Rokhdad-e Tazeh institute. The goal of the creation of this working group was to introduce and theorize the sociological documentary, in a workshop learning environment.
Now, in January 2017, although the institute has been discontinued for some reasons, but the members of the sociological documentary work group will be holding their bi weekly sessions under the title Rokhdad-e Tazeh Documentary Initiative . this independent effort is determined to pursue the previous activities with the same perseverance and Passion.
As the initial step, members of the work group began the theoretical formulation of sociological documentary. The result was published as a number of articles in various media outlets. Nowadays the research activities of the “Rokhdad-e Tazeh Documentary”, continues to revolve around this idea and beyond theoretical speculation includes: Monitoring other similar events in the scene and to use to define/expand the idea further. Searching for frameworks to problematize the “dominant “discourse overshadowing the documentary production with an emphasis on the social science.
The educational structure which was incorporated in Rokhdad institute was designed in order to enhance theory & practice evenly. Therefor a course was designed to be realized in the coming years by Rokhdad-e Tazeh documentary. The course includes various theoretical to work experience and from technical knowledge on documentary from research to executing hand on skills & know-hows like filming, editing, lighting, & field recording.
The Promotional Activities
Among the other goals the documentary work group, the mission was to spread the word about the Sociological documentary. This crucial task has been followed by organizing sessions and creating content in different formats and Rokhdad-e Tazeh Documentary is following the started path by organizing screening nights and talks.
These seminars were curated to show documentary films and talks with the makers/producers. The criteria for the selection of the films their possession of sociological documentary components; the characteristics which were enumerated here briefly and in numerous articles in details. As the discussion about this topic is fresh and recent, the challenge would be to find films which fit into the framework.
Therefore, in our selection of films, we pay attention to other criteria such as the ability of the filmmaker to develop critical view, the number of the previous presentation of the film and the ability of the film itself to address new topics; although creating balance between these criteria in fact is not a simple work. The format of these seminars, as a tradition in Rokhdad-e Tazeh Documentary (former work group of the sociological documentary), is based on collaborative knowledge production, which differs from conventional formats based on talks and Q&As.
In these seminars, we try to create a conversation platform between the filmmakers and the audience. The sessions will be recorded and documented to be published later on in the media and as well on the group’s website in the near future. For the new Series of debates and screenings, a greater number of documentary makers and enthusiasts of the sociological documentary have joined the Rokhdad-e Tazeh Network which is a great a sign of hope and a witness to the positive effect of critical thinking in the documentary scene in Iran.
Rokhdad-e Tazeh Team
Pouria Jahanshad / Behrang Sedighi / Azar Tashakor / Shervin Moghimi / Reza Haeri / Shirin Barghnavard / Mehdi Bagheri
Collaborators and advisers of Rokhdad-e Taze Team
Zeinab Tabrizi / Hadi Shariati / Zahra Pourjafariyan / Masoud Mashayekhi / Shahab Blouki / Nahid Rezae / Matin Torkamani / Sam Kalantari / Azadi Bizargiti / Mina Keshavarz / Hamide Golmohamadi / Rezvan Sarmad
Studio 12 architecture firm
Ray-bon documentary institute
in collaboration with
New Media Society