On television, a protest is conveyed through its most dramatic images: the simmering conflict, the growing tension, the outbursts of violence. If things get too stressful, viewers can look away from the screen; for those on the ground during such an experience, there is no changing the channel.
Colby Associate Professor of Global Studies Maple Razsa and anthropology major Milton Guillén ’15 wished to convey the firsthand ordeal of a protest to viewers by combining on-scene footage with real-time decision making by viewers.
The result, an experiential documentary called The Maribor Uprising, not only gives a first-person account of the revolutions in Maribor, Slovenia, in 2012, but also features the filmmakers in the theater, guiding the audience to certain filmed points at which the audience must make a decision. Would they commit an aggressive act on the frontlines, for example, or hang back and be a part of a more peaceful protest?
The interactive aspect of the film is designed to make the audience part of a protest and express the stark reality of the situation, demonstrating that decisions on the streets are final and there is no going back.
Throughout production, Guillén benefitted from the mentorship of Razsa, who traveled to Yugoslavia as a high schooler not long before the country erupted into war. The eyewitness experience gave Razsa the perspective to inspire and take on such a project, and in turn gave Guillén, an aspiring documentarian and social justice advocate who met with activists in Slovenia, a platform to send a powerful message. The Maribor Uprisings has taken the documentary world by storm, with showings—and appearances by the filmmakers—at prestigious film festivals in New York, Vienna, Toronto, and South Korea, among others.
The connection between Razsa and Guillén has resulted in a dynamic film experience, distinct in its format. Through arts, creativity, and innovation Guillén has exemplified Colby’s collaborative approach. Pursuing unique insights and creative solutions, Guillén found a new avenue as an artist to convey the powerful message behind his filmmaking passion.