Filmgeographies is an online platform for anyone interested in films about geography and geographers who make films. Filmgeographies started in 2016 via AAG Shorts, a short film screening festival set up by Jessica Jacobs as part of the American Association of Geographers Annual meeting. In 2018 Giovanna Ceno and Matteo Bontempi helped design this website. In November 2018 Jessica Jacobs and Joseph Palis established the first specialty group at the American Association of Geographers’ devoted to film-making and screening.

Digital video offers new challenges and opportunities for all social scientists, including geographers, particularly in terms of their commitment to increasing diversity and embedding inclusivity into their practices. Opportunities because using video as a research method means we will be able to include more participants in our research, and screening our research will allow us to reach a wider audience for our findings. Challenges because it can be hard to keep up with all the changes in the way people produce and consume this fast-moving networked medium.

What makes a film geographical?

What makes a film geographical? For us a geographical film is a film that explores people’s relationship to their environment, a film that is place-based, and where that ‘place’, often dismissed as ‘background’ in other films, is treated like a character in its own right with agency and voice. (Jacobs and Palis, 2020).

Why make a geographical film?

As a creative research method, filmmaking in an academic context can produce new forms of knowledge, and help us understand how knowledge is produced. Ongoing crises in the climate, health and the political system has shown that we need to understand how power shapes our lives and the rise of the decolonise movement has once more turned our attention to the way we produce knowledge. Films can be essayistic in structure, but they are not the same as texts. Films can relay arguments but also reflections and emotions. Part of the pleasure of making films is allowing people to watch them and reinterpret them according to their lived reality. Films can also address enduring issues of diversity and inclusivity in western academic institutions. Even more important in a Covid context where travel is curtailed, locally produced films allow us to know more about different communities and crises from all over the world through a wider range of perspectives addressing structural inequalities directly.