DocLab Academy 2015 as a hothouse for new interactive storytellers

‘We are still telling stories, as people have been doing for centuries.’
During the third edition of DocLab: Academy, we once again investigated new ways of telling stories, both old and new. The Academy programme, an initiative of Flemish Arts Centre de Brakke Grond and IDFA DocLab, was part of IDFA’s DocLab: Seamless Reality programme. Over a period of 6 days, 25 participants from the Netherlands, Flanders and the rest of the world got to grips with current issues, together with international pioneers. 

In the Seamless Reality exhibition, visitors could see works by former Academy participants. Jan Rothuizen and Sara Kolster (participant in 2013), for example, exhibited the project Drawing Room, which won the Award for Digital Storytelling during the festival. Sara Kolster also collaborated on another exhibition project: Imperial Courts. Flemish artist Dries Depoorter, who took part in the Academy programme last year, was represented by two installations in the exhibition: Jaywalking and Sheriff Software, and talked about these during the Live Cinema event: The Art of Artificial Intelligence.

During a whirlwind of expert meetings, master classes (including by Errol Morris), workshops, one-on-one discussions with experts and studio visits to Submarine and Prospektor, we spoke to a number of the participants. 


Read the jury report for the awards.

Yuri Veerman

The participants absorbed all input from other perspectives and ambitions. For example, Yuri Veerman from the Netherlands. He had previously developed (with Medialab Setup among others) the project Koppie Koppie, for which he took copyright-free photos of other people’s children from Flickr, had these printed on mugs and offered them for sale online. Now, with Het Nieuwe Instituut, he is working on an interactive web documentary about the Olympic Games. The Academy programme was a significant opportunity to take another good look at the plans before actually putting them into practice.  e uitwerking grondig onder de loep te nemen.  

Koppie Koppie: Flickr photo’s of other peoples children printed on mugs and for sale on Yuri Veermans website.

Elien Spillebeen

Flemish documentary maker Elien Spillebeen looks back at a week in which she has made many relevant contacts and concludes that, over the six days, an indefinably huge number of qualities were brought together and everyone was open to input from the others. ‘What I lack in knowledge and experience is present in others in abundance and this is inspiring and opens up new opportunities’. Spillebeen expects to work with a number of her new contacts in the future, but first she is showing her project Backup Butembo tonight (3 December) in Leuven, for which she was granted the honorary title Peace Woman 2014 by the Belgian Senate. 

Jens Wijnendaele

Finally, the Academy programme was a good opportunity to invite Flemish designer Jens Wijnendaele to create a new project in de Brakke Grond. He graduated earlier this year in graphic design from the School of Arts KASK in Ghent, and his graduation project EXIBET won the Stichting René Bruynseraede – De Witte honorary award for 2015.

EXIBET is a speculative investigation of the demise of humanity. During the Something Raw festival (9 – 13 Feb 2016), de Brakke Grond will be inviting Jens Wijnendaele to develop his graduation project further.

IDFA DocLab is a cooperation between DocLab and de Brakke Grond.
With support from: the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Creative Industries Fund NL, Netherlands Film Fund, Fladers Audiovisual Fund and Creative Europe Vlaanderen.