Toward Sympoietic Systems for Film Circulation
United Screens Think Well 3.0 30.09.–02.10.2022
HOSTED BY NAAS – Network of Arab Alternative Screens and the United Screens Network
WITH Yuki Aditya, Yosra Almallah, Ali Hussain Al Adawy, Mohamed Amin, Darragh Amelia, Jean Pierre Bekolo, Manel Ben Ali, Cem Dagdelen, Charlotte Deweerdt, Mohamed Frini, Nadia Ghanem, Fanny Huc, Rachid Jannen, Julio Linarez, Valentina Medina, Leil Zahra Mortada, Jesse Mpango, Jacqueline Nsiah, Virginia Pisano, Kenza Rady, Tiara Roxanne, Mouhamed Said, Majd Al Shihabi, Mohamad Sultan, Czyka Tumaliuan, Mohanad Yaqubi ++
At Flutgraben & online
LANGUAGES The conversations will take place in English.
Access The event has limited capacity, to attend physically, please register via firstname.lastname@example.org by letting us know a bit about yourself and your interest in joining.
Live-Stream Some elements of the event will also be streamed via our Youtube and Facebook accounts.
|Introduction and Framing|
Grammar of Gathering* with Tiara Roxanne [live streamed]
Game 1 –– Stirring the Waters
|Healing Cinema, the Making Of with Jean-Pierre Bekolo [live streamed]|
Game 2 –– Islands
Syncing & Aligning
Recap and Introduction
Organisational Experimentalism with Cem Degdelen and Julio Linarez [live streamed]
Game 3 –– Fount of Ideas
|(Re)Distributed Cinema with Fanny Huc and Mohamed Frini [live streamed]|
Game 4 –– Archipelago
|Syncing & Aligning|
At SAVVY Contemporary
Maangamizi: The Ancient One Performative Film Screening with the ajabuajabu collective [open to all without registration]
|Recap and Introduction|
|Rising Above the Algorithm with Czyka Tumaliuan of KWAGO|
Game 5 –– Surfacings
|Collective Decision Making I|
|Collective Decision Making II|
|Syncing & Aligning|
As a followup to Think Well #01 (hosted by Wekalet Behna, Egypt) and Think Well #02 (hosted by AVEC – L'Association de Volontariats, Échange Culturel et Action des Jeunes, Tunisia), we are pleased to organise the third edition of the Think Well series in collaboration with NAAS – Network of Arab Alternative Screens and the United Screens Network.
We continue to take cue from reflections on film cultures powered by community practices. Over three days film practitioners and system thinkers will come together to imagine tools, methodologies, value metrics and network logics for the circulation of alternative cinema and video art. Flutgraben will be our playground to experiment with simulated scenarios, marked with rich discussions, and moments of collective decision making. Think Well 3.0 takes on an immersive game format to help us address issues common and urgent to all of us, and weighs on our collective intelligence and imaginaries to mandate – hand-in-hand – conditions, and technologies for a better film ecosystem of the future.
Toward Sympoietic Systems For Film Circulation
Sympoiesis: a simple word; it means “making-with.” Nothing makes itself; nothing is really autopoietic or self-organizing … Sympoiesis is a word proper to complex, dynamic, responsive, situated, historical systems. It is a word for worlding-with, in company. Sympoiesis enfolds autopoiesis and generatively unfurls and extends it.
International film dissemination is in trouble. The system and its flows are disturbed, out of sync. While a multitude of stories and imaginaries are produced, remixed and brought to life, bringing a pluriverse of perspectives, ideas and worlds to the fore, their international and local circulation is clogged, blocked by a few centralised gatekeepers who have consolidated their power. This condition is far from novel. Since the 1960s, filmmakers, scholars and cinema practitioners from across the South/ Tropics have adequately critiqued the colonial, Western-centric film distribution and exhibition system. And they have found a multitude of collective responses, resistances and subversions. We take cue from their thoughts and the many offspring and subverted practices that have since manifested in film cultures across different geographies. Rather than working toward a universal system, we believe in a pluriverse of systems.
In her seminal work, Donna Haraway argues that biological, philosophical and social systems exist and sustain by "making-with" other systems, instead of the understanding that systems are self-producing or autopoietic. In fact, for her the idea of individual and independent units plus contexts/rules no longer holds. Neoliberal individualism is not good enough. "Sympoiesis is the game in spades.” 
How can we think of film circulation as an ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts? The urgency of this question has been accelerated by challenges of our time which have exposed the limitations of centralised systems. New decentralised infrastructures for cinema and video art circulation should be independent of state and capital based regulations – instead conceived, designed, developed, prototyped and implemented collectively by community cinema practitioners. Inspired by French-Caribbean writer and philosopher Éduard Glissant, relationality and its poetics in all its senses are the key to transforming and reshaping realities. 
To this end, we feel the need to collectively unpack the technologies and protocols that can facilitate the organisation of such systems. What can methodologies of new internet and digital technologies praised as revolutionary tools, offer when stripped down to the essences of their mechanisms? How can we hack and appropriate these technologies and dissemination systems to act in our favor? How can networks act as technologies of solidarity? And what role does the performance of spaciality play within it?
This third edition of the Think Well series will manifest in Berlin as a collaboration between SAVVY Contemporary and the Network of Arab Alternative Screens – NAAS. We aim to explore the nuances of collective practices that enable the creation, sustenance and preservation of cinema cultures, especially the ones that exist on the margins of the dominant cinema industry. With the "players" and "disruptors" we have invited to be part of this symposium, we would like to ruminate on the shape of the ecosystem emerging from the coalescence of collectivity and collective practice(s). Together we hope to renegotiate network bonds with the principles of value sovereignty, care work, practices of commons toward emergent ecosystems for interdependent film and video art.
Think Well 3.0: Toward Sympoietic Systems for Film Circulation will take the form of a game. We understand the hegemonic capitalist financial system – or any other social systems - as games with a set of rules, participants, logic, storylines, and goals. Thus, in order to subvert the dominant order of the system, we propose to play out a speculative imaginary of value, economics, decision making practices, socialities, infrastructures etc. Together with the Network of Arab Alternative Screens – NAAS and Economic Space Agency/ XORG we are bringing together cinephile networks from different parts of the world for a game simulation over three days.
For the love of film!
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 us 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, filmmakers from the Global South to imagine a new film ecosystem powered by community-led technological imaginaries.
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-well on film cultures from the Global South.
ARTISTIC DIRECTION Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Curation Jowe Harfouche, Sabine Abi Saber, Abhishek Nilamber, Laura Kloeckner
Co-Curation Shohreh Shakoory
Game Design Salam Yousry, Pekko Koskinen
PRODUCTION Hubert Gromny
MANAGEMENT Lema Sikod, Billy Fowo
DESIGN Nancy Naser Al Deen
COMMUNICATIONS Anna Jäger
Live Stream Boiling Head Media
Think wells are organised as part of the SAVVY Contemporary 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 ARKIPEL - Jakarta International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival (Indonesia).
Support This project is generously supported by Arab Funds for Art & Culture (AFAC).
Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).
Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (Michigan, USA: University of Michigan Press, 1997).