Patricia Zimmermann, professor of screen studies and codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), delivered invited lectures and conducted workshops on documentary new media forms in Guangzhou, China, in December of 2012. She was posted to China as part of the American Film Showcase, a US State Department initiative to foster cultural exchange and understanding.
On December 3, Zimmermann presented a formal lecture on new media entitled “Open Space Documentary: Participatory Media in Action” at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. Showcasing US-based transmedia projects exhibited in previous Finger Lake Environmental Film Festivals at Ithaca College, her talk theorized the function of collaborative, interactive, and permeable new media practices to open up spaces for new encounters.
On December 5, she presented a formal lecture entitled “Open Space Documentary” for PhD students and faculty at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China. This talk focused on how US-based new media practices migrate between the analog, digital, and embodied as a way to expand and engage critical dialogues within a place-based strategy that opens up unexplored political, social, and historical terrains. Zimmermann also engaged in a faculty and PhD student open session to share ideas about FLEFF, new media, and emerging forms of documentary beyond big budget, feature length forms.
On December 6, she delivered the keynote address “Open Space Documentary: Participatory Media in Action” at the Community Organizations Development Forum, a gathering of environmental, women’s, LGBT, health, and human rights nongovernmental organizations in South China. The event was sponsored by the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Her talk focused on new media works that focus on exploring small locations through participation, invite engagement and encounters, and generate new spaces.
While in Guangzhou, Zimmermann also met in working sessions with Ai Xiaoping and Wu Wenguang, two prominent filmmakers involved in the Chinese New Documentary Movement, a movement of work produced outside of official channels that probes the impact of development and emerging issues of the environment, health, transparency, historical memory, and human rights.
Zimmermann’s presentations and work in China were sponsored by the US State Department. The US State Department named Zimmermann one of 25 film envoys in 2011 as part of the American Film Showcase, a joint project between the State Department and the University of Southern California funded by appropriations from the Congress of the United States.