1. In French cinema, Marseille also features in Hungarian painter and photographer, László Moholy-Nagy’s first film, Marseille Vieux Port (1929), Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille Trilogy: Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1936), as well as Denis Gheerbrant’s epic, seven-part documentary, La République Française (2009), which also addresses neighborhoods affected by the urban renewal plans discussed below. [return to page 1]

2. See Euroméditerranée’s webpage for a longer history and description of the urban renewal plan, now characterized as the “largest urban renewal project in southern Europe” (Euroméditerranée). http://www.euromediterranee.fr/districts/introduction.html?L=1

3. According to EuroMéditerranée, public sources of funding include the European Union, the French State, the Region (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), the Department (Bouches-du-Rhone), the City of Marseille, and the larger metropolitan area. Euroméditerranée estimates that some 7 billion euros will be spent by the end of the project with the lion’s share of that funding coming from private sources and with half of that having been spent on phase one (1995-2007). Euroméditerranée 2 began in 2007.

4. In a 2015 article on the continuing gentrification of Marseille, geographer, Elisabeth Dorier estimates that “in 2012 fewer than 60% of Marseille households were taxed on their income” (qtd. in Rescan).  

5. Over the long decades of the Euroméditerranée project, neighborhood residents described a host of tactics aimed at forcing out low-income renters since the inception of Euroméditerranée. Some of these, documented by the local organization, “A Downtown for Everyone,” have been informal and small-scale, with corrupt landlords pushing current tenants out in the hopes of increasing rents. In Le Panier, residents complain of rising rents, a secondary consequence of the increase in tourism around the revitalized Old Port (Rescan 2015 and Tabasco).

6. Comments translated from an interview with the author on February 26, 2010 at the Federation of VDPQ’s headquarters in Aix-en-Provence, France.

7. Unlike U.S. cable-access, airtime is not offered via private cable networks, nor via national or regional TV channels, as with Michel’s example of France 3. France 3, a regional network that pays more attention to local issues than national or private channels would, still seemed to shy away from material deemed confrontational or “amateurish,” in Michel’s estimation, a factor that fueled the development of VDPQ. And local sources of funding (regional, departmental, and municipal) constitute 60% of VDPQ’s funding (as opposed to federal sources). Today, VDPQ comprises 28 member groups across 13 regions, producing some 300 hours of programming (see www.vdpq.org).

8. For a variety of interpretations of relationality along these lines, see, in particular, the chapters by Kate Nash, Jon Dovey, and Adrian Miles in New Documentary Ecologies. In her dissertation on interactive documentaries, Sandra Gaudenzi argues, “Behind every type of interactivity lies an assumption of our power to intervene in/with what is around us. When the interactor can just explore, and choose within a closed number of pre-determined options, the assumption is that our world is pre-determined, although full of options, and that our power lies in choosing our path, not in creating or changing such world” (Gaudenzi. “Living Documentaries” 53).

9. Translated from the French. Interview with Benoit Ferrier (Project Lead and Filmmaker) and Élodie Sylvain (Development Officer and filmmaker), 27 January 2010 at Tabasco’s headquarters in Le Panier. I accompanied Tabasco on a couple of filming sessions for 100 Paroles in 2010. In one installment at the Bar des 13 Coins (The 13 Corners Bar) in Le Panier on 12 February 2010, the filmmakers invited anyone in the bar to comment on the front-page issues of the week, which ranged from neighborhood kids having been held overnight in their pajamas at the local police station, to whether recent comments made by a French Socialist Party member were racist. The responses, recorded on camera, were candid and varied.

10. Daniel’s full formulation of this political aesthetic quotes Rancière at length: “The configurations and constructions that database documentary, as an art practice that facilitates political subjectivation, […] constitute a field of intervention that maps directly onto and into ‘politics’, re-imagining and reconstructing the ‘fictions’ of the real. Such acts of subjectivation attempt to undo the status quo and implement the only universal in politics: we are all equal’ (Rancière 2007: 86)” (Daniel 226).

11. The European Cultural Capital program, initiated in 1985, is likewise a development project with culture as its subject. Cultural Capital years are often situated in less prominent cities of a nation, for example Kosice, Slovakia which was also selected as a Cultural Capital in 2013. The European Commission promotes the project in this manner: “The idea is to put cities at the heart of cultural life across Europe. Through culture and art, European Capitals of Culture improve the quality of life in these cities and strengthen their sense of community. Citizens can take part in the year-long activities and play a bigger role in their city’s development and cultural expression. Being a European Capital of Culture brings fresh life to these cities, boosting their cultural, social and economic development. Many of them, like Lille, Glasgow and Essen, have demonstrated that the title can be a great opportunity to regenerate their urban centres, bringing creativity, visitors and international recognition.” https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/creative-europe/sites/creative-europe/files/library/ecoc-fact-sheet_en.pdf
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12. Comments here are translated from French from online and in-person conversations with Nicolas Dupont and other Tabasco members between the summers of 2014 and 2016.

13. See Craig Hight in New Documentary Ecologies on software editing tools and the ways in which they can “serve, shape and constrain the development” of documentary forms, among others (219).

14. In a recent conversation, 12 May 2016, Dupont clarified that it makes more sense to rely on coders, who specialize in the specific needs of each project. The technical demands of making good, web-based works, then, requires a certain level of expertise. To his mind, the students’ work—their overall process and contribution in the form of interviews, videos, and photographs—ended up being valorized by the quality of the online product. I realized in this conversation that I was perhaps placing too much value on the teaching of post-production skills. In this case, that would have meant training in web and interaction design, training that would have been time consuming and not necessarily socially engaging. Dupont also pointed out that each online project presents different technical needs and challenges and that’s the design work and programming required for one project aren’t necessarily applicable to the next.

15. This moment remains, for Dupont, the crowning achievement of the project. In May 2016, Dupont reiterated to me that more important than the online document, for him, is the fact that the students created the documentary together and took pride in seeing it screened publically at a cultural venue as significant as Villa Med.

16. In our conversation of 12 May 2016, Dupont was less concerned about the fixed nature of the final product than the fact that the online documentary had received very few visitors. “Without a lot of financial support, it’s impossible to get significant web distribution.”  

17. See note 2.

18. These lessons include the importance of effective production, distribution, and exhibition techniques in the current documentary eco-system, as Elizabeth Coffman illustrates: “Gershon and Malitsky emphasize the importance of the question of circulation within networks for documentary studies—circulation in terms of the exchange of information, locating how the film arrives at certain facts or evidence; circulation in terms of funds for financing; and circulation of media as connected to a documentary project’s exhibition/distribution history. How and why these elements circulate will help to explain the finished film, its political mimetic procedures and its impact” (114).

Works cited

Almeida, Andre and Heitor Alvelos. “An Interactive Documentary Manifesto.” Interactive Storytelling special issue of Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6432 (2010): 123-128.

Aston, Judith, and Sandra Gaudenzi. "Interactive Documentary: Setting the Field." Studies in Documentary Film 6.2 (2012): 125-39. 

Coffman, Elizabeth. “Spinning a Collaborative Web: Documentary Projects in the Digital Arena.” New Documentary Ecologies: Emerging Platforms, Practices and Discourses. Eds. Kate Nash, Craig Hight, and Catherine Summerhayes. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2014. 129-148.

Daniel, Sharon. “On Politics and Aesthetics: A Case Study of Public Secrets and Blood Sugar.” Studies in Documentary Film 6.2 (2012): 215-226.

Euroméditerranée. “Presentation of the Euroméditerranée Project.” http://www.euromediterranee.fr/quartiers/presentation.html

Gaines, Jane. “Political Mimesis.” Collecting Visible Evidence. Eds. Jane Gaines and Michael Renov. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. 84-102.

Gaudenzi, Sandra. “The Living Documentary: from representing reality to co-creating reality in digital interactive documentary.” Diss. University of Goldsmiths, 2013.

Gaudenzi, Sandra. “Strategies of Participation: The Who, What and When of Collaborative Documentaries.” New Documentary Ecologies: Emerging Platforms, Practices and Discourses. Eds. Kate Nash, Craig Hight, and Catherine Summerhayes. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2014: 129-153.

Hight, Craig. “Shoot, Edit, Share: Cultural Software and User-Generated Documentary Practice.” New Documentary Ecologies: Emerging Platforms, Practices and Discourses. Eds. Kate Nash, Craig Hight, and Catherine Summerhayes. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2014. 219-236.

Kaplan, E. Ann.  “Theories and Strategies of the Feminist Documentary Film.” New Challenges for Documentary. Ed. Alan Rosenthal. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. 78-104.

Lesage, Julia. “The Political Aesthetics of the Feminist Documentary Film.” Quarterly Review of Film Studies 3.4 (1978): 507-513.

Michel, Thierry. “Plateau TV participative à Tabasco Vidéo Marseille.” La Lettre de VDPQ (VDPQ Newsletter). Juillet 2009: 5.

Miles, Adrian. “Seven Small Propositions that Fall, Autumnally, Upon Interactive Documentary.”New Factual Storytelling. University of Canberra. DocLab, Canberra, Australia. April 2015.

Nash, Kate. “Clicking on the World: Documentary Representation and Interactivity.” New Documentary Ecologies: Emerging Platforms, Practices and Discourses. Kate Nash, Craig Hight, and Catherine Summerhayes (eds). Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2014: 50-66.

Rescan, Manon. “In Marseille, Downtown Still Resists Gentrification.” (“A Marseille, le centre-ville résiste toujours à la gentrification.”) Le Monde.fr. 16 June 2015. http://www.lemonde.fr/logement/article/2015/06/11/a-marseille-le-centre-ville-resiste-toujours-a-la-gentrification_4652108_1653445.html

Scott-Stevenson, Julia. “The interactive documentary in a cross-platform, community context.” Expanding Documentary 2011: Conference Proceedings. 1.2 (2011): 181-188.

Tabasco Video. Et Le Panier dans tout ça. Tabasco Video: Marseille, 2014. Web. 1 Oct. 2015. http://www.lepanierdanstoutca.tabascovideo.com/