Film Essay: The Forgotten Space by Allan Sekula and Nöel Burch

The Forgotten Spacea new film essay by School of Art faculty member Allan Sekula and filmmaker-critic Nöel Burch—is currently making the festival rounds, most recently at the just-ended Viennale (Vienna International Film Festival). There were 350 screenings during the course of the festival’s 13-day run, including a number of experimental and documentary works.

An Artforum analysis of the festival praises the Viennale for maintaining personality in its growth: “[It is] a big festival with a legible point of view, rooted in a strong sense both of film history and of what matters in contemporary world cinema.” Dennis Lim’s article also gives a nod to Sekula and Burch’s film:

Equally ambitious and pointed in its politics, Allan Sekula and Noël Burch’s The Forgotten Space is a Marxist cine-essay about the contemporary maritime economy. Reminding us that 90 percent of the world’s cargo still travels by sea, the film traverses major ports (from Rotterdam to Hong Kong) and ventures inland on highways and railroads, examining the rise of the shipping container, the changes in transport systems, and the toll that global capitalism has exerted on human labor.

In their film, the directors examine the sea as a “forgotten space” even though it remains crucial to globalization: “Nowhere else is the disorientation, violence, and alienation of contemporary capitalism more manifest, but this truth is not self-evident, and must be approached as a puzzle, or mystery, a problem to be solved.”

Film stills:

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