Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2017

Embargo Period


Event Date

Summer 2017


MDOCS, Documentary, Storytelling, Event, Showcase, Storytellers' Institute, Summer, Workshop


2017 Storytellers’ Institute

Each year the MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute celebrates documentary work and practice around a centralized theme. For the inaugural Institute in 2015 we explored whose stories get told, delving into family and storytelling. In 2016, the Institute considered what constitutes documentary, considering the lines between fact and fiction. For the third Institute in June 2017, MDOCS invited documentary creators whose work engages with the where of documentary, the operation of SPACE & PLACE.

Spaces matter: streets, kitchens, forests, schools, offices, hospitals, mountaintops, ocean floors. Anywhere that people live, work, play, worship, create, and cross provides the context of our experience. Through human activity these spaces become places, rich with memory and meaning. Physical and human geographies establish boundaries, promoting or limiting access to individuals, inclusion and exclusion.

“People think that geography is about capitals, land forms, and so on. But it is also about place —
its emotional tone, social meaning, and generative potential.”

— Yi-Fu Tuan, Professor Emeritus of Geography, U-W Madison

Communicating the understanding of space, place, and spatial relationships is a fundamental part of documentary work. Documentary interprets, navigates and represents unmediated spaces and constructed places, evoking them as claustrophobic and expansive, natural and built, accessible and forbidden, privileged and marginalized, permeable and bounded. From the expansive beauty of Yosemite to the constrained lives of Japanese Americans in the Manzanar Relocation Center photographed by Ansel Adams, to Jacques Cousteau’s underwater explorations in film to The Pulse of the Planet radio series placing its listeners in natural environments.

The 2017 Storytellers’ Fellows and visitors guided audiences through places they have never been or could experience anew through the eyes, ears, and work of others; who map and remap paths taken and avoided, borders made and transgressed; who refocus our gaze or open our ears to provide new understanding and insights into familiar spaces; creating spaces and places for reflection, engagement and inspiration.