فريق انتاج يخضع نفسه للرقابة

A Film Crew Censors Itself

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A multi-channel installation

Bentley Brown | Saudi Arabia | 2019

While cinema was legalized in Saudi Arabia this year, film crews were still subject to "moral laws" governing "mixed-gender" work environments. Nestled away on a private beach film set, a film crew must censor its behind-the-scenes footage. This multi-channel installation investigates the levels of self-censorship filmmakers, whose craft is the art of expression, must undertake to ensure their longevity.

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THE RELEASE FORM

An intricate release form is needed not for the actors in the film—they have their own contracts—but for the crew itself. They must choose whether and how they can appear in any behind-the-scenes documentaries crafted from the movie they’re currently working on. Women in particular must choose if they can appear “with men,” “wearing abaya,” “not wearing abaya,” “wearing tarha,” or “not wearing tarha.” The combination she chooses is pre-determined by her family’s, tribe’s, or culture’s standards. For all, appearing in a “mixed gender” environment—men and women—carries the risk of being reported and detained, as this is a violation of the kingdom’s moral law. This release form will be displayed on a wall near the entrance to the space. Visitors to the space will be informed by additional signage that they must be respectful of moral code while present in the exhibit, which includes refraining from “gender mixing” as well as any obscene behavior, to be determined by those watching the space.

Channel a, channel b: The Identifiers

The project contains behind-the-scenes footage from three different film productions in Jeddah from 2016-2017. For each there will be three Channels: Channels A, B, and C. In Channel A, the identifiers that would expose an individual are blocked out. Channel B features the inverse of this. Individually, the channels are safe. Yet, together, they can be matched to reveal the individual’s identity. In the exhibition space, They will be projected on opposite sides of the same wall so that the viewer cannot see both at the same time.

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Channel C: The Finished film

In Channel C, we see the finished film. As is the nature cinema, the crew are invisible, yet the actor is visible. There is no longer a “mixed gender” crew to endanger them and their image can be used freely.

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Channel D: A Narration

In Channel D, a three and a half minute film plays with narration, navigating for the viewer the process and justification behind a film crew’s self-censorship. This is the short film A Film Crew Censors Itself فريق انتاج يخضع نفسه للرقابة. It will live its own life in festivals and online.