New Frontiers in Docs

Report on the Masterclass IDFA on the 22nd of November 2004

In this masterclass makers and thinkers presented critical visions and exciting practices of new media documentary in a set of lectures and presentations.
This masterclass also functioned as opening session of the Mediamatic-IDFA workshop New Media Documentaries.


Mediamatic/IDFA masterclass, November, 2004 - Mediamatic/IDFA masterclass, Nov 2004:PeterWintonik, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Bregtje van der Haak photo by Bea Correa

On monday November 22 the IDFA Festival and Mediamatic organised a Masterclass on the topic of new media documentaries. Six different specialists and documentary makers showed their views on the change in theory and practice of documentaries which are influenced by new media techniques.
Peter Wintonick, a Canadian based documentarist and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, a specialist in interactive new media, opened the seminar with a brief outline of the covered subjects in the masterclass.
Professor Brent MacGregor, who is a specialist in documentary and a former BBC 4 documentarist, started the masterclass with a theoretical introduction about the influence of new media on traditional documentary. He found that although the new media techniques bring forth a new grammar in creating documentaries, we still need to have some basic creative skills. Apart from the technology nothing really has changed, just try to create something new whilst using the old skills.
Bregtje van der Haak presented her interactive rendering of a film about the architect Rem Koolhaas’ research on the city of Lagos. Although it is originally shot as a linear film, she reshaped it into an interactive form. She claims that this is actually better for experiencing the real essence of Lagos. It makes you look more closely at the images and you see details better when you have to make choices.
Florian Thalhofer, who is the inventor of the Korsakow system, showed his latest interactive multichannel documentary project about a social housing project in Bremen-Nord. He spent a month in Bremen to film and interview the locals and kept an online diary so that people could react to it immediately. So he used the Internet as well as live images as a basis to create an interactive film.
Sam Gregory was the next guest. He is a video producer, advocacy trainer and human rights activist, and currently the Program Manager at WITNESS ( This is a human rights group organisation which manifests itself through the Internet. By placing short documentaries on the Internet, they highlight the human rights problems. These webbased documentaries are very effective for reaching a large public. They pull people in with a micro-documentary on the current affairs and these videoclips radiate trust.

The documentary 24 hours on Craigslist is shown on the IDFA Festival. Director Michael Gibson talked about the film in this masterclass. The ‘Craigslist’ is a community board which was founded in San Francisco in 1994. On Craigslist people connect on basic things, it’s free to post and there is an anonymous factor. The film is about the people behind the postings which is basically a day in the life of the city of San Francisco. This shows that an Internet phenomenon can result in a linear film and therefore this is a typical crossmedia project.

The last speaker of the seminar was Marijke Jongbloed. She presented her project Love Choice in Cyberspace. This was originally a radiodocumentary about the Internet dating circuit. She co-created a website on which the radiodocumentary can be heard. This also shows how the different old and new media merge within the documentary form.

This workshop was made possible with the support of the MEDIA PLUS PROGRAMME of the European Community and OCW