Creative Practice, Context & Commentary

National Academy of Screen and Sound (NASS)
& Zanzibar International Film Festival

NASS Research Centre – Cultural Diplomacy Research Series 2


Creative Practice, Context and Commentary:
A Dialogue on Inspirational Production

Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, June 20-22, 2014

Click here for the Conference Program.

The Conference will be held at the new DoubleTree Hilton Hotel (5 star), Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Accommodation at the DoubleTree Hilton is available at the special rate of $80 per night (B&B)
but only if you make the booking directly through ZIFF.

Convenors: Martin Mhando and Josko Petkovic

DEADLINE: 31 March 2014

Completed films and other creative works are frequently associated with a commentary of words. Such commentary may be arranged by the creative artists themselves as a way of introducing their work either in a catalogue form or as an introduction to their screenings. Such commentary may also be arranged by theatre artists, poets, promoters, producers, fans, critics and interested scholars. Such commentary is also frequently required by degree regulations and research auditors. Arguably the most pertinent example of commentary for creative arts scholars is one associated with a practice-based thesis, dissertation and exegesis. Some questions that are of interest to this conference-festival include:

  • What needs to be said about a creative work that is not in the work itself?
  • In what way is visual commentary different from verbal or written commentary?
  • Is commentary always necessary with practice-based thesis if at all?
  • How does the commentary on creative works inform us regarding the relationship between words and images, theory and practice, subject and object of the production, interiority and exteriority of action and objectives of action on screen?
  • Is there an ethical dimension in the relationship between the creative work/film and its commentary?
  • What is the appropriate scholarly relationship between the commentary and the creative work?

This NASS/ZIFF conference-festival invites participants to address the relationship between such commentary and creative works. We are especially interested how your own work relates (or does not relate) to the existing scholarly body of commentaries either before or after the work was completed. You may even present a commentary on the cross-cultural creative work you may wish to work on in the future.

Arguably, the scholarly relationship between the written commentary and creative works was most transparent with the French New Wave writers who are often invoked as an inspiration for much contemporary writing on film and cinema. Many French New Wave writers were themselves filmmakers or were in close relationship with the film practitioners. For this particular group the commentary about films and the making of films was in many ways a continuous activity. Separating the two activities would not have made much sense.

This conference-festival aspires towards such unity of commentary and creative practices, hence the “conference-festival” title. In this unity we see the seeds of inspirational production, where philosophizing is not seen as a separate activity from production itself. In these circumstances the completed film (or a creative) work can potentially provide and inspiration for another creative work without the verbal or written commentary.

Some elements of this trend may well be evident in the transformation that is presently taking within the Humanities programs world-wide, namely the transformation from discipline-based programs (history, geography, anthropology, etc) to practice-based programs such as screen production, games design, sound, theatre and drama, radio, journalism, web communication as such similar practice-based programs.

As a way of celebrating the “conference-festival” concept, and in the spirit or carnivalesque inversion of codes, this conference-festival invites producer-scholars to explore this wider non-practice based commentating on films, or any creative production.