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Documentary and Democracy in Crisis

14. December 2021 - 18. December 2021

International Conference Visible Evidence 2021

What we call ‘documentary’ emerged in the 1920s and 1930s in response to a perceived crisis of liberal democracy, as a mode of factual representation which empowers citizens to participate in the political process. As the last months have shown, the willingness or unwillingness of citizens to comply with policy makers have crucial effects.
How does documentary respond to what has been widely diagnosed as the current crisis of democracy? What could be an adequate reaction in forms, themes and modes of production, to the return to nationalism and other forms of political tribalism in the face of global migration? In what ways does documentary shape our perceptions of the consequences of globalization, from climate change, health crisis, to the transformation of the economy? And how can documentary in theory and practice contribute to defend the spaces and modes of deliberation necessary for the life of democracy?

Visible Evidence, the international conference on documentary film and media, now in its 27th installment, will be hosted by the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies (TFM) at Goethe University, Frankfurt in collaboration with Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum. Designed as a public event in collaboration with the city’s leading cultural institutions, the conference makes a conscious nod towards documentary history as an instrument of public opinion. The notion of crisis, a thread weaved through the history of documentary, and in light of current affairs seems ever more pertinent, calls for new political, formal and social possibilities that consolidate and expand documentary’s role as a space for representation and democratic deliberation. These new possibilities are explored in a dialogue between theory and practice.

Programme and further information: Click here…

Conference locations

Waldschmidtstraße 4
60316 Frankfurt am Main

DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum
Schaumainkai 41
60596 Frankfurt am Main

COVID Regulations
It is important to us to keep conference participants as safe as possible. Therefore, we have decided that the conference will be held as a 2G-event, meaning that only people who are vaccinated or have recovered will be able to attend. We are closely monitoring the current situation and will implement further safety measures if necessary.


14. December 2021
18. December 2021


Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies (TFM) at Goethe University
Künstlerhaus Mousonturm
DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum
„ConTrust. Vertrauen im Konflikt. Politisches Zusammenleben unter Bedingungen der Ungewissheit“ – ein Clusterprojekt des Landes Hessen am Forschungsverbund „Normative Ordnungen“ der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Forschungsverbund „Normative Ordnungen“ der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt