Winner, 'Best Documentary' - Short and Sweet film festival
Director: Aideen Johnston
Cinematographer: Bhavan Rajagopalan
Sound: Eamonn Johnston
Editing: Aideen Johnston
My MA documentary. Here's an extract from the project statement:
"This project explores integrating elements of experimental and art cinema with documentary. If a journalistic mindset of presenting objective facts characterizes traditional documentary, then Ding Dong the Church is Dead reflects blogging culture with its deeply personal aspect and the prominence of issues of identity, self-representation and subjectivity. In terms of both philosophy and directing style, the film is something of a manifesto as the work lay slightly beyond the boundaries of what is normally classified as documentary.
My research has two distinct emphases – spirituality through the use of liminal spaces present in the materiality of cinema, and spirituality through film as parable. Initially, I intended to leave spaces within the film wherein the viewer could mediate on the film’s content. However, the emphasis shifted to the second exploration – film as parable – during editing. The experimentation with form became intertwined with the film’s exploration of subjectivity. Instead of creating “void” spaces within the film as an invitation to meditation, I used the film’s experimental dimensions to enhance its authorial component. In other words, the “collage” style of filming, the editing and even the choice of locations keep with my personal style. Therefore, using these semiotic elements invites the viewer into the film’s spiritual core through my filtering sensibility.
In projects that blend autobiography and potentially contentious subject matter, authenticity gains importance. I have used self-deprecation as well as self-reflexivity – referring regularly to the means of production to remind the audience that they are watching a construct.
The film’s sincerest moment happens during the build-up to the conclusion, where I cut through the linguistic layers of postmodern theology with a relatively unembellished statement of belief (“I love Jesus”). The moment is uncomfortably honest and simplistic. I felt it important to let it stand in its rawness for a few moments without garnish. This serves to highlight my point of departure from Emergent theology and capture the film’s content on an emotional level. The raw personal honesty showcases the unique narrative voice of this film, reflecting again the potential of new documentary forms evocative of social media."