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Unveiling Truths: A Conversation with C.S. Nicholson

In the realm of independent cinema, C.S. Nicholson emerges as a bold voice challenging conventional narratives. His film "The Discoverer of the Discoverers," showcased at the recent Brussels Independent Film Festival, delves into the complexities of memory and historical interpretation. Through a candid dialogue, Nicholson shares insights into his filmmaking journey, grappling with challenges, and the evolving landscape of documentary cinema.

Can you provide insight into the genesis of "The Discoverer of the Discoverers" and its significance to your body of work?

C.S. Nicholson (CSN): "The Discoverer of the Discoverers" was conceived as a part of a larger project centered on the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. However, it evolved into a meditation on an early West African encounter with Europeans, exploring the nuances of historical memory and its contemporary relevance.

What were the primary hurdles you faced during production?

CSN: Securing funding posed a significant challenge, reflecting broader skepticism within the documentary landscape. The perception of a white European filming in Africa hindered financial support and festival recognition in Western Europe, contrasting with the film's reception in West Africa.

What aspect of the film brings you the most pride?

CSN: I take pride in the film's ability to transform mundane visuals into a hypnotic experience through slow-motion imagery and score integration. Additionally, the film retains a sense of resistance encountered during production, fostering authenticity and challenging viewers' perspectives.

How did your filmmaking journey unfold?

CSN: Inspired by cinema's existential potential, I embarked on a path initially focused on screenwriting but gravitated towards nonfiction storytelling. Despite setbacks and detours, my immersion in reality TV production nurtured my narrative sensibilities, leading to collaborations that shaped my creative vision.

What projects are currently occupying your creative energies?

CSN: "A Stranger Has No Eyes," a feature documentary exploring the legacy of a prolific slave trader, stands as my primary endeavor. Utilizing spirit possession ceremonies as a narrative device, the film delves into ancestral communication and individual reckonings with historical legacies.

How do film festivals contribute to your filmmaking journey?

CSN: Festivals offer a platform for immersive cinematic experiences and community engagement. The communal atmosphere fosters meaningful connections with audiences and industry professionals, enriching the film's journey beyond digital platforms.

What advice do you offer filmmakers navigating the festival circuit?

CSN: Attend festivals authentically aligned with your creative ethos, prioritizing community engagement over industry networking. Personal connections and shared experiences within the festival sphere offer invaluable morale boosts and artistic validation.

How do you envision the future of cinema?

CSN: Amidst technological advancements, I advocate for preserving the communal cinema experience rooted in human connection. Authentic storytelling, free from algorithmic constraints, remains paramount in fostering genuine emotional resonance.

Which filmmakers have influenced your artistic perspective?

CSN: Claude Lanzmann, Werner Herzog, Michael Glawogger, and Peter Krüger exemplify audacious documentary storytelling, challenging conventional narratives and blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

Any recent films that left a profound impact on you?

CSN: "Butterfly in the Sky" by Jim Fetterley epitomizes the transformative power of experimental cinema, evoking a spectrum of emotions within a concise narrative framework. Its fusion of visuals and audio transcends traditional storytelling, resonating deeply with the human experience.


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