‘Histórias do Kakwaku’, An experience of collective documentary film-making in the periphery of Luanda, Angola

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Chloé Buire


This article reflects on Histórias do Kakwaku, a documentary film about social activism in the urban margins of Luanda, produced as part of a partnership between myself, an academic working on urban citizenship, and an Angolan political youth organisation, Projecto AGIR. The article details the whole process of collective film-making and questions the impact of this method on the film-makers, both individually and collectively. From our initial brainstorming sessions to our final editing decisions on the computer, I show how we slowly drifted away from the initial political objectives dictated by the organisers of Projecto Agir and opened unexpected spaces for engagement that allowed us ‘to see together without claiming to be another’ (Haraway 1991).

Following the chronological steps of collective film-making, we used practice as a point of departure from which to approach storytelling more broadly. Although I provide practical details about our logistics, our equipment and our working documents, this is not a one-size-fits-all recipe for collective documentary film-making. Rather, the focus is on what can be described as an exercise in intersubjective writing, neither entirely under control nor totally serendipitous.

I argue that telling a story in images, words and sounds is a dynamic process, open to constant reinterpretation. Combining the unpredictability of collective writing with the somewhat narrow imperatives of audiovisual storytelling creates an opportunity to question participatory research beyond the binary of the researcher and the researched.


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Practice-based articles (Non-refereed)