More than hundred artists, academics and students from around the UK attended Documenting Fictions, a fascinating one day conference concerned with visual representation in documentary photography and film as well as art film, initiated by the MA Visual Arts programme at Bradford School of Arts & Media and held at the National Media Museum on 6th April 2011.
MA Visual Arts Course Tutor Jill Good, who organised the event, reflected “Documenting Fictions was a raging success. Interesting and insightful conference papers were delivered by Will Godfrey and Kate Mellor from Bradford University, Robert Galeta and Martin Hearne of Bradford School of Arts & Media and Steve Hanson from Hereford School of Art. Short films shown included those by Katriona Skinner and Helen Wood, both MA Visual Arts alumni.”
During the afternoon, Jill interviewed film maker and director, Jez Lewis before a special screening of his film, Shed Your Tears and Walk Away in the Cubby Broccoli cinema. The documentary is gathering excellent reviews and generating debate wherever it is shown and was described by Mark Kermode of The Observer as "a harrowingly honest portrait of young lives wasted in Hebden Bridge, a picturesque northern enclave beset by drugs, alcoholism and tragic self-destruction ... a poetic, powerful and often very painful film made with a raw intimacy that bespeaks harsh truths." Jez talked knowledgably about issues around making a documentary feature film before the screening and then answered questions from the audience before a further discussion specifically about the film ended the day.
Jill concluded, “The staff on the MA Visual Arts programme feel that it is important for students as future artists and visual communicators to critically question and engage with representations. A special feature of our approach to film, photography and art is that we encourage a wide variety of approaches to, and subject matter from, the world of visual culture. There is always an emphasis on representation as an exciting means of unearthing the political, social and cultural meanings articulated. Documenting Fictions was an enjoyable and thought provoking event. The material delivered throughout the day and the moving film presented by Jez Lewis offered an arena for discussions on issues of representation in the media and in art."