A close up view of a camera lensPhoto by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Screening the Social: Beyond the Documentary

Screening the Social is a two-week, online film festival that showcases interdisciplinary, cutting-edge ways of using the moving image in social research. It will take place on 13-24 November 2023, with attendees able to browse and watch all the films at any time during the festival period.

The event is free to access and will include both film screenings and panel discussions. The programme will feature films with a variety of disciplinary, stylistic and methodological characters, celebrating the creative breadth of filmmaking as a field of research practice.

The project is being organised by Dr Laura Harris of the University of Southampton and Dr Lena Theodoropoulou of the University of Liverpool, with funding from NCRM and engage@Liverpool.

About the event

As a field of practice, research filmmaking is marked by a high degree of genre-defying creativity, of transgressing borders between the arts, humanities and social sciences, and of co-production with participants.

The documentary mode, although a varied and contested category itself, is only one way of understanding the relationship between filmmaking and social realities – one intention of the film festival is to show what exists ‘beyond’ this mode.

Across different disciplines, the film camera has emerged as a tool for social research that embraces sensory ways of knowing, redistributes the power in research projects, challenges conventions of representation, and produces outputs that can speak to wider publics.


The film selection in the festival has not been thematically driven, but rather guided by a desire to showcase films that are diverse formally and research that is diverse methodologically.

In addition to the main film programme, Film Geographies and RAI Film have been invited to curate their own special sections. We are delighted to include these, and to highlight the value of these platforms to the field of research filmmaking.

The film programme is accompanied by two, free online panel discussions (dates to be confirmed). The panels will unpack some of the approaches showcased in the festival, including the use of animation, participant-led storytelling, and decolonising filmmaking methods.

More programme details will be made available on this page in the near future.

How to access the festival

The event is free to access, but registration is required.

Register for the festival

On registering, you will be emailed a password allowing you to access the films on the festival website (www.screeningthesocial.co.uk). The films will be available to watch at any time during the two-week festival period (13-24 November 2023).

Further information

For more information, please contact Dr Laura Harris (l.harris@soton.ac.uk) or Dr Lena Theodoropoulou (eleni.theodoropoulou@liverpool.ac.uk).