Strangers Within: Documentary as Encounter

ed. Therese Henningsen & Juliette Joffé

Theo Inglis (Design) TJ Books (Printer)




ISBN: 9781913513306


Publication date: 5 September 2022



‘The foreigner is within me, hence we’re all foreigners. If we’re all foreigners, there are no foreigners.’ – Julia Kristeva

Strangers Within is an anthology exploring the idea of documentary as encounter through essays, stories, interviews and other creative responses by filmmakers, artists, and writers. The texts engage with the risks of encounter, unsettling assumptions about the distinctions between host and guest; stranger and friend; self and other; documentarian and protagonist. Opening up a series of questions about the mystery of another person, whose difference and unknowability is already a part of one’s self, the anthology offers a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the convergences between encounter, hospitality and autobiography.

Edited by Therese Henningsen & Juliette Joffé, with contributions by Khalik Allah, Ruth Beckermann, Jon Bang Carlsen, Adam Christensen, Annie Ernaux, Gareth Evans, Jane Fawcett, Xiaolu Guo, Umama Hamido, Therese Henningsen, Marc Isaacs, Mary Jiménez Freeman-Morris, Juliette Joffé, Andrew and Eden Kötting, David MacDougall, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Toni Morrison, Bruno de Wachter and Andrea Luka Zimmerman.

‘Sifting through the pages of this precious book is like walking on the beaches of Agnès Varda: we gather a myriad of lustrous images, of encounters, memories, films. We stumble upon correspondences, connect the dots of the unvoiced dialogue among its authors – touching on identity and strangeness, method and poetics, documentary and auto/biography. What Strangers Within so admirably advocates is the absolute necessity of a cinema of the first-person. Its greatest achievement is to redefine this as a cinema of risk- taking, open to the stranger, a generator of the encounter: as a truly hospitable cinema.’

– Professor Laura Rascaroli (University College Cork)

Strangers Within is a wonderful gathering, a beautifully cadenced set of essays in which a stellar cast of free-spirited independent filmmakers discuss the art, philosophy and politics of representing other people in documentary practice. Happily they show how the very idea of ‘other people’ is absurd: the subjects of documentaries, like their makers, are elusive, mysterious, changing, full of contradictions. What emerges is a vision of non-fiction cinema as a contact zone, a travelling space of fertile estrangement and entanglement, a commitment to deep and experimental listening.’

– Sukhdev Sandhu, Director of the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture, New York University

‘Arriving at a time when both the notion of documentary and its foundational situations are being revisited, this richly rewarding and truly enlightening selection of texts is at the heart of the complexity and contradictions inherent to non-fiction image-making in general, and to the relationship between filmmaker and subject in particular. Self and Other: equally unknowable, equally “strange”, but urgently deserving of a timely study devoted to the forever unpredictable drama of their encounter. Essential reading for post-essentialists.’

– Mads K. Mikkelsen, Head of Programme at CPH:DOX