A film essay by Allan Sekula & Noel Burch
NL/AT 2010, 110 min

The Forgotten Space follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains and trucks, listening to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. And in Bilbao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, is somehow obsolete.

A range of materials is used: descriptive documentary, interviews, archive stills and footage, clips from old movies. The result is an essayistic, visual documentary about one of the most important processes that affects us today. The Forgotten Space is based on Sekula’s Fish Story, seeking to understand and describe the contemporary maritime world in relation to the complex symbolic legacy of the sea.



Awards and nominations:

Winner of the "Special Orizzonti Jury Prize" at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.
Special Mention at the 48th Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijón

Jury rapport:
"An epic view and urgent analysis of the follies of global capitalism, 'The Forgotten Space' is a prime example of essayistic and political cinema. It creates a complex tapestry of powerful images and language"


Allan Sekula
Since the early 1970s Allan Sekula’s works with photographic sequences, written texts, slide shows and sound recordings have traveled a path close to cinema, some- times referring to specific films, sometimes operating like a “disassembled movie”. In 2001 Sekula made the first work he was willing to call a film.

Sekula’s books include Photography against the Grain (1984), Fish Story (1995), Dis- mal Science (1999), Performance under Working Conditions (2003), TITANIC’s wake (2003), and Polonia and Other Fables (2009). These works range from the theory and history of photography to family life in the grip of the military industrial complex to explorations of the world maritime economy. His work is on display all over the world. Among other places, Sekula has taught in the Department of Photography and Cinema at the Ohio State University, and since 1985, in the Program in Photography and Media at the California Institute of the Arts.

Noel Burch
Born in the USA (San Francisco, 22nd of January 1932), Noël Burch has been liv- ing in France since 1951. He graduated from the Institut des Hautes Etudes Ciné- matographiques in 1954. While primarily known for his theoretical writings, such as Theory of Film Practice (1973), and To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in Japanese Cinema (1979), he has always positioned himself as a film-maker and has directed over twenty titles, mostly documentaries.

Burch was co-founder and director of the Institut de Formation Cinématographique. From 1972 to 2000 he has taught film history and theory at various places and universities throughout the world.


Authors and directors: Allan Sekula, Noël Burch

Director of Photography: Attila Boa, Wolfgang Thaler

Music: Riccardo Tesi, Louis Andriessen

Editing: Menno Boerema

Sound: Eckhard Braun, Joe Knauer

Sound Design: Mark Glynne

Narrator: Allan Sekula, german version: Nina Hagen

Production: Doc.Eye Film (NL) & WILDart Film

Producers: Frank van Reemst, Joost Verheij, Vincent Lucassen, Ebba Sinzinger


supported by:




Stadtkino Filmverleih (Austria)


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