Think well #1
Online Sessions 22.–26.09.2021
With Estacion Terrena (Colombia), AVEC (Tunisia), ARKIPEL (Indonesia), Sudan Film Factory (Sudan), Women in Cinema Collective (India)
Hosted by Wekalet Behna, Alexandria
Curated by Ali Hussein Al Adawy and Yosra Elmallah
Join If you like to join the meetings, please write us at email@example.com so we provide you with the link.
Schedule – Alexandria time
|On film culture and labour|
|Aesthetics and re-production|
|On censorship, shrinking spaces, and cinephil preserverance|
Towards a new ecosystem for film circulation
|Networks as technologies of solidarity|
The Blurring Image Of The One With The Gloomy Face Always Comes Back 
Contemplations on (post)colonial, (post)revolutionary, (post)COVID screen cultures
The revolutionary aspirations and uprisings in the Arab/African region (especially Egypt) since 2011 are confronted with the post-colonial states, or more so an age, which according to Achille Mbembe "is in reality a combination of several temporalities", a time of entanglement in which postulating the existence of a "before" and "after" of colonization could not do justice to its nonlinear and transit character, harboring "the possibility of a variety of trajectories neither convergent or divergent but interlocked, paradoxical."  The paradoxical finds its expression in military dictatorship and authoritarian regimes that reign through anti-colonial/ anti-imperialist/ nationalist political posturing while suppressing the peoples they govern, just like the colonisers they claim to resist. While mastering the control over the political narrative in order to oppress, they like to appear as saviours. They have been doing this by holding absolute control over broadcast media and the cultural apparatus. Only the images that conform with the existing narrative reach circulation channels – whether in news, entertainment or information.
Since the 1990s though, international NGOs and funds have made more resources available beyond the traditional cultural support by the patronage of the state. Additionally, technology has enabled activists, cultural workers and filmmakers through increased access to digital cameras to create (moving) images and subsequently to move beyond the purview of the aforementioned regimes.
But this detachment from the established cultural resources continues to raise the question of long term sustainability, autonomy and self-representation of non-confirmative images and their circulation. The sustenance of non-confirmative images are hinged to the community interested in engaging with them. This engagement of critics, audience, cultural workers etc. with disobedient moving images in an independent space is what creates ‘alternative’ cinema culture. But the restrictive measures imposed across the world on physical gathering on account of the ongoing pandemic, has temporarily ruptured collective programming, viewing, discussions, networking and other critical work around alternative cinema culture. The virtual space has emerged as a ‘new’ space of gathering and commoning enabling innovative methods for the cinema culture to prevail beyond geographical borders. But while we celebrate this new space we cannot imagine this to be the permanent resort. The importance of physical cinema spaces goes well beyond "watching films on a big screen". Physical cinemas, film festivals and other non-virtual modes of cinema exhibitions serve social and economic necessities far beyond the obvious cultural spectacle.
Over the course of five days, the first UNITED SCREENS THINK WELL #1, hosted by Wekalet Behna in Alexandria, Egypt, will bring together cinema practitioners, researchers and technologists to rethink questions of film circulation, labour and space in future imaginaries. Embracing a hybrid format, we depart from the experiences of the Egyptian film culture to understand commonalities of filmmakers who share spaces of economic and political vulnerability across the Global South. Many of us believe in strengthening Collectivities with radical use of Technology such that collectivities shape the technologies that they work with and in turn technologies strengthen collective practices. THINK WELLS  are conceived as solution oriented incubators for filmmakers, critics, curators, scholars, artists and technologists to design, hosted by the United Screens network.
UNITED SCREENS is a long term research, networking and exhibition project, conceived at SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, that intends to create a platform through which a network of community cinema programmers can be enabled to screen quality alternative cinema and video art. These films would be hosted on a de-centrally curated database of alternative cinema/video art. We are working towards a new technology-based platform to distribute independent films produced across the Global South, comprising of African and Asian continents at large, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Indian subcontinent.
Drawing from the combined spirit of the anti-neocolonial Third Cinema proposition of South America, film cooperatives of Indian subcontinent, avant-garde movements of Eastern Europe, as well as, decolonial resistances of the African continent, we at SAVVY Contemporary were inspired to look into cinema practices active in the contemporary “Global South”, and inquire into the challenges and opportunities in their transnational exhibition.
UNITED SCREENS aspires to become a decentralised, yet peer-reviewed and peer-promoted think-tank on film cultures from the Global South.
ARTISTIC DIRECTION Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
CURATION Abhishek Nilamber, Laura Kloeckner, Juan Pablo García Sossa
MANAGEMENT Lema Sikod, Jörg-Peter Schulze, Billy Fowo
DESIGN Juan Pablo García Sossa
COMMUNICATIONs Anna Jäger
Live Stream Boiling Head Media
Rushes are organised as part of the project UNITED SCREENS:
NEAR EAST, MIDDLE EAST, FAR EAST. Contemplations on Contemporary Cinema – in collaboration with Wekalet Behna (Egypt), AVEC – L'Association de Volontariats, Échange Culturel et Action des Jeunes (Tunisia), NAAS – Network of Arab Alternative Screens (Lebanon), Estación Terrena (Colombia), and others.
Support This project is generously supported by Arab Funds for Art & Culture (AFAC).
The title is inspired by the poem ”The Return of the One With Gloomy Face” by Egyptian poet Salah Abdel Sabour (1931–-1981) in his first collection People in My Country, published in 1956.
Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, University of California Press, 2001, 18.
THINK WELL is a vocal resistance coined by South African writer, playwright, filmmaker Puleng Lange-Stewart diverting from etymology which resonates with overtones of crisis and desperation (think tanks). She urges to move towards a "well" where we can find respite, collectively. Believing that our groundwaters are connected, United Screens THINK WELLS initiates flows between cinema practitioners and filmmakers from the Global South to imagine a new film ecosystem powered by community-led technological imaginaries.