It is urgent, in these times, to secure spaces where democratic conversations can occur. Documentary film is one of the most powerful tools we have to research and reflect on our collective human experience and create connections to better ourselves. There is currently no single hub for global conversations around documentary film and how it illuminates and intervenes in the social issues defining our age.
San Francisco State University’s Documentary Film Institute plans to meet this need by creating Pluralities, a multi-media, digital journal. Pluralities will use nonfiction film to engage the humanities in nuanced dialogue. It will bring together a cosmopolitan group of thought leaders, creative thinkers and learning communities to participate in the same global exchange as documentary filmmakers. Pluralities will also offer far-reaching avenues for national and international nonfiction filmmakers and scholars to exhibit, examine and exchange their work in one platform. In addition, it will provide an umbrella for the various creative and scholarly pursuits that are housed at the Documentary Film Institute.
The journal will function as an online and interactive space that identifies, experiments and innovates new forms of multi-media scholarship in the field using a no-fee open source platform. In addition, it will bring together thought leaders and creative professionals in bi-annual symposia and conference settings to further interrogate these new approaches to scholarship and intersectionality in the burgeoning areas of nonfiction film and the humanities. Pluralities’ vision is to be part academic journal, part aggregator of underserved global voices and part provocateur to the field of nonfiction film and the visualization of the humanities. The journal will feature the work of graduate students as well as columns that debate issues of representation and history in film in language accessible to a non-specialist public. The aim is to collect multiple versions of reality in one space in order to question the possibility of any master narrative, filling in the holes of history and the present with experiential knowledge and self-critique.
The Bay Area is the birthplace of nonfiction film and, as a center of cultural, political and technological innovation, the region remains a hotbed for documentary filmmaking. As a university dedicated to global justice, equity and accessibility, and rooted in cross-cultural studies, SF State is the most compelling place to ground an innovative multi-media, digital journal for nonfiction film. The university’s values and the extraordinary diversity of our students, faculty and staff empower us to give agency to underrepresented communities all over the globe.