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A diversity of mind-provoking media at the Humanities Lab Film Festival

How does digitalisation affect the humanities? The introductory course for the Honours College Humanities Lab challenges students to reflect on this through the production of their very own short film.

The course coordinator is Dr. Jan Sleutels, senior university lecturer at the Institute for Philosophy. “Many of the students in the course do not have a background in Humanities. I want all students from different disciplines to have the same playing field. To learn something about what the Humanities are, to get to know one another, to work together and to learn from one another.”

Provocative cinematography

Over the course of four lectures, students are introduced to some of the Humanities’ core concepts, and challenged to think about the question what consequences digitalisation has for the Humanities. The final project is a short film, which is screened at the Humanities Lab Film Festival. Sleutels: “We leave it up to the students to choose the format. Some groups make a news broadcast, others a documentary or an animated film.”

This year’s groups certainly delivered. “A Day in the Life”, a dramatic short film displaying the gradual loss of reactivity to bad news due to constant media exposure, questioned our perception of violence as routine normality. Another film, “Slacktivist” portrayed actuality and the Black Lives Matter movement to discuss slacktivism: sharing or promoting issue-related content on social media, without actually making a contribution.

At the end of the festival, the audience votes which film deserves the audience award. The deserving winner, “The Truth is in Here” made inventive use of artificial intelligence (AI) to paint the chilling picture of a dystopian future in which the Faculty of Humanities might, in fact, lose all sense of humanity.

Bridging the gap

One of the course’s goals is to bridge the gap between disciplines. Student ambassador Eva Branchereau (18) feels this goal was certainly accomplished. “As an International Relations and Organisations student, I study a lot of politics, but I miss many parts of the Humanities that I now get to learn about. The field of Humanities is a lot broader than I thought it was. It’s been really interesting getting to study the whole array of topics.”

This was the first time Eva had to make a film for an assignment: “It was a nice experiment, but also a challenge, because I’d never done it before. It was nice to have a creative way of doing things and to work as a group. And a challenge is fun, too!”

Text: Merijn Mulder
Photos: Buro JP

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