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Title: Collaborative filmmaking with traditional performers in highland Java : a practice-based PhD thesis
Author: Imanda, Tito
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 2974
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis analyzes the process of collaboration with a Javanese traditional performance group in adapting their work to film. The project has both practical and research goals. The practical goal is to collaborate with a traditional performance group from a rural area, and help facilitate their exploration of a new medium and to express themselves through film. The research goal of this project is to record, understand and analyze the process, while laying the groundwork for further collaborations and research in other contexts and with different communities. The underlying research question for this thesis is: "how does collaboration contribute and facilitate the group's adaptation of its aesthetics and artistic expression to film?" To answer that question, it is important to first understand the group itself as local collaborators, including their members, their identities, their problems and needs, and the role of other villagers. The thesis establishes that the group has a long tradition and history, particularly in performance arts, and the village community is constantly in tension with ongoing social, political, and ecological changes, which often provide inspiration for the themes and contents of their films. The next aim is to understand the development of collaboration between the rural farmer-artists and their urban filmmaker-academic collaborators: the backbone of this thesis. We can see here that building "common ground" between collaborators from different contexts is a long and challenging process. Another important theme of the thesis is exploration of the adaptation process of performance arts to film, and how the years of collaboration shapes this process and its products. Here we can see that it is specific cultural values -not lack of access or sophistication- that drive the Tjipta Boedaja dancers towards particular film production methods as well as particular messages. When we look closely at the aesthetics of the films produced, we observed how they represent the group's and the village's culture, and the members' and the villagers' identities as well as the new set of film aesthetics that emerged from the collaboration. The local collaborators relate their techniques and approaches to storytelling to the varieties of local performances. Film in this context is largely determined by the complexities of the locale and its aesthetics and audience preferences. Finally, the project works with the group's latest film productions, exploring what the collaborators had learned from the long collaboration process, adaptation of filmmaking methods, and establishment of film aesthetics. At this point, the thesis offers empirical confirmation that the filmmaking collaboration between two factions from different backgrounds must establish trust, build complex insights into all the collaborators' cultures and power relations, and foster willingness for intensive investigation of the most salient local aesthetics and messages possible.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral