December 16, 2020—December 18, 2020

Visible Evidence Virtual Event 2020

Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Visible Evidence XXVII – Virtual Event
December 16-18, 2020


Who Can Judge? Jonathan Kahana, Hannah Arendt and the Theater of Justice | December 16th, 2020, 18:30 CET / 12:30PM EST


Visible Evidence Members Annual Meeting | December 17th, 2020, 18:30 CET / 12:30PM EST


Accessing the Visual Archives of Post War Europe: Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction | December 18th, 2020, 18:30 CET / 12:30PM EST


Please register for each individual event at by Monday December 14th, 2020.

Who Can Judge? Jonathan Kahana, Hannah Arendt and the Theater of Justice

Who Can Judge? Jonathan Kahana, Hannah Arendt and the Theater of Justice

December 16th, 2020,
Visible Evidence in collaboration with World Records
18:30 CET / 12:30PM EST


A panel in memory of Jonathan Kahana on the occasion of the publication of his essay “Arendt in Jerusalem: Documentary, Theatricality, and the Echo of Irony,” published in World Records, Volume 4.

“It seems obvious,” Arendt wrote in her 1961 report Eichmann in Jerusalem, “that if presence were required for judgment, neither the administration of justice nor the writing of history would ever be possible.” Taken to an extreme, Kahana argued, what appeared obvious to Arendt would in fact make much of contemporary documentary impossible, for documentary theory and practice frequently turns to the truth-value of embodied observation for both its historical function and its ethical effects.

Arendt wrote this line at the same moment that the documentary question of subjectivity entered the audio-visual field, in the forms of cinéma vérité and direct cinema, becoming the dominant realm of scholarly and critical thinking about documentary in the decades to follow. This panel takes up Kahana’s essay in order to explore a theoretical route less traveled, considering Arendt’s admonishment on how not to link social justice to the embodied witness.

The discussion will revolve around the writings of Hannah Arendt and Jonathan Kahana and what they bring to bear on documentary as a theater of justice, the roles of reenactment and intelligence work within this theater, and the contemporary expression of documentary justice in the efflorescence of true crime media.


Jason Fox
Josh Guilford
Ivone Margulies
Paige Sarlin
Leshu Torchin

Jason Fox is the Founding Editor of World Records Journal.

Josh Guilford is Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College. His essays have appeared in Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 (John Libbey, 2015); The Global Sixties in Sound and Vision: Media, Counterculture, Revolt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); and other publications. With Toby Lee, he is co-editor of “Documentary World-Making,” a special dossier published by the online journal World Records (Vol. 4, 2020).

Ivone Margulies’s recent book In Person: Reenactment in Postwar and Contemporary Cinema (2019) was launched with a related series at Anthology Film Archives. She is the author of Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday (translated into Portuguese and Spanish); the editor of Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema. (2003,) and co-editor of On Women’s Films: Across worlds and Generations (with Jeremi Szaniawski, 2019.) She has published extensively on performance and realism in French and Brazilian cinemas as well as on moving image artists. Margulies is Professor in the Film and Media Studies Dept. at Hunter College, and at the Graduate Center at City University of New York, (CUNY).

Paige Sarlin is an artist, filmmaker, and writer. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study at University of Buffalo, SUNY. Her book “Interview Work: The Genealogy of a Documentary Form” is forthcoming.

Leshu Torchin is Senior Lecture in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews. She is author of Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet, co-author of Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe, and co-editor of Film Festivals and Activism. She has contributed to journals such as Third TextFilm Quarterly, and Film & History, and finds a shocking amount to say about Borat. She launched the Themed Playlist Initiative at the start of the pandemic and hopes to keep it going (so send your lists and suggestions to her).

Visible Evidence Members Annual Meeting

Visible Evidence Members Annual Meeting

December 17th, 2020,
Visible Evidence traditional “business meeting” in a virtual form
18:30 CET / 12:30PM EST

The meeting will be moderated by the Frankfurt hosts, Laliv Melamed and Vinzenz Hediger, and is dedicated to discuss future conferences and other organizational matters.

If you are interested in adding a topic to the meeting agenda please email with BUSINESS MEETING: AGENDA in the subject line.

Accessing the Visual Archives of Post War Europe: Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction

Accessing the Visual Archives of Post War Europe: Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction

December 18th, 2020,
Joint presentation of ViCTOR-E – Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction in Post-WW II Europe, an international research project in the HERA research programme Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe.
18:30 CET / 12:30PM EST


Non-fiction film in postwar Europe is closely linked to various projects of material, political and cultural reconstruction in a continent torn apart by WW II and its aftermath. While newsreels, documentaries and educational films were essential tools to establish shared iconographies, narratives and vocabularies within ideologically and spatially redefined societies and communities, non-fiction film underwent a process of reconfiguration and diversification that is itself part of the reconstruction of Europe.

We currently experience a major shift in the accessibility of this part of the European film heritage, since a growing amount of audiovisual material is digitized and becomes more and more available online. This is not only a challenge for historians and film scholars but also an opportunity for the general public. Until today, cultural memories of the postwar period have been incisively shaped by specific historic icons and iconographies and thereby used to reproduce mainly national perspectives. While contemporary audiences already appear to be naturally invested in local film heritages, this iconographic nationalism is rarely challenged within transnational perspectives.

Bringing together archives, researchers and teachers from across Europe, our project VICTOR-E aims to combine at least three essential dimensions of providing access: Digitizing non-fiction films and making them accessible online via EFG; curating a virtual exhibition as a transnational space to explore non-fiction films from different national contexts; and developing a conceptual framework to understand non-fiction films as part of a European visual culture of trauma, obliteration and reconstruction. Based on a film program selected for the occasion and the experiences from an ongoing series of international workshops with students we will use this online event to discuss challenges and potentials of this endeavor. In particular, we would like to call for a reflection on the role of film a historic source in a time, when public spaces are increasingly virtualized: digitization policies, reception and re-mediation practices, risks of decontextualisation, misinterpretation or revisionism, as well as accurate rescuratorial and teaching possibilities.

Link to the film program will be sent together with the zoom link following registration. For questions about the film screening please email:


Vinzenz Hediger
Lucie Česálková
Paolo Villa
Perrine Val
Johannes Praetorius-Rhein

Vinzenz Hediger is professor of cinema studies at Goethe University Frankfurt, where he directs the Graduate Research Training Program „Configurations of film“.

Lucie Česálková, doc. Ph.D., works as a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and as a researcher and editor at the National Film Archive in Prague (Národní filmový archiv). Before maternity leave, she was an Associate Professor at the Department of Film and Audiovisual Culture of Masaryk University in Brno. She focuses on non-fiction, documentary, and advertising film, and on the issues of film distribution, exhibition, and reception. Her research appeared in journals such as Film History, Memory Studies, The Moving Image, etc. as well as edited volumes (eg. Films that Sell, Palgrave MacMillan, 2017; Rural Cinema Exhibition and Audiences in a Global Context, Palgrave MacMillan, 2018; The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History, Routledge, 2019). Her book-length study of Czech state-sponsored informational cinema (Atoms of Eternity. Czech Short Film of the 1930s–1950s) won The Best Book in Czech Film Studies in 2015. In 2019, she, together with Kateřina Svatoňová, published a book on the world’s first multimedia theatre Laterna magika.

Paolo Villa, PhD, is post-doc researcher for the HERA project ViCTOR-E at the University of Udine, where he has recently completed his PhD in film history, and where he teaches European Screen Studies. Among his recent publications, Film in the Piazza. Le piazza italiane come luogo d’identità nei cortometraggi del dopoguerra (in Cinema e identità italiana, Rome 2019), In viaggio attraverso l’Italia. La ricostruzione ferroviaria nei cortometraggi della Breda e delle FFSS nel dopoguerra, with Giovanni Grasso (in «Immagine», n. 19, 2020) and Gesti di creazione: l’artista all’opera nei film processuali (in «Piano b», 3:2, 2018). He co-edited with Simone Venturini and Greta Plaitano the book Moving Pictures, Living Machines. Animation, Automation and the Imitation of Life in Cinema and Media (Udine-Milan, 2020).

Perrine Val, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Her research work focuses on the French and East-German cinemas during the second half of the 20th century and on the cinematographic exchanges between East and West during the Cold War. Her most recent publications are: « La Resistenza vista dal cinema della RDT (1949-1969) », Clio nei socialismi reali, Tracce. Percorsi internazionali di storia contemporanea, Milan, Unicopli, 2020, pp.199-212 ; « Jeanne et Kurt Stern, des traducteurs en pleine guerre froide », Traduire n°240, 2019, pp.93-104. To be published in 2021 : Le cinéma entre Est et Ouest. Les relations cinématographiques entre la France et la RDA, Villeneuve d’Asq, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.

Johannes Praetorius-Rhein studied Theatre, Film, and Media Studies and Sociology in Frankfurt (Main) and Brussels. He is a researcher for the european HERA-Project “VICTOR-E – Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration and Reconstruction in Europe” at the Goethe-University Frankfurt (Main). He is currently finishing his PhD project about the film producer Artur Brauner and his “Films against Forgetting” which was funded by the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk. With Julia Schumacher and Lea Wohl von Haselberg he co-edited the volume “Schlechtes Gedächtnis. Kontrafaktische Darstellungen des NS in alten und neuen Medien” (2019). He is one of the coordinators of the DFG funded research network “German-Jewish Film History of the FRG”. His research interests involve German film history, postwar cinemas, production culture and cultural memories.