Digital technology, aesthetic imperfection and political film-making: Illegal bodies in motion Articles uri icon

publication date

  • May 2011

start page

  • 3

end page

  • 19


  • 1


  • 2

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2040-3526

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2040-3534


  • This article analyses the relationship between digital technology and political film-making in the current era of uneven globalization. First, I study the role of contemporary counter-narratives of migration in giving visibility to the illegal bodies-in-motion that circulate through the western fortresses. Second, I dissect the digital and imperfect aesthetic of a set of films &- Welcome to Sarajevo (Michael Winterbottom, 1997), In this World (Michael Winterbottom, 2002) and Turtles can Fly (Bahman Ghobadi, 2004) &- in order to define the nuances of their political discourses. Third, I argue that the authenticating appeal of digital technology is largely based on the fact that spectators today experience the digital in their quotidian life experiences. Therefore, they approach digital products not only as consumers, but also as producers of audio-visual imagery. Finally, I study how these films operate in a liminal space between the fictional and documentary modes &- the fictoreal. I contend that these films fail to hide their structuring artificiality. Paradoxically, this failure, in combination with their imperfect digital look, is the cornerstone of their capacity to successfully engage an active spectator in the interrogation of the specific sociocultural realities they explore. By deploying a range of representational conventions working within a variety of fictional genres, they capitalize on the spectator's familiarity with similar stylistic constructions and their capacity to decode them.


  • fictoreal; winterbottom; political film-making; immigration; imperfection; digital