Documentary as Practice-led Research

WHO IS EUROPE? is Ian McDonald’s response to the academic research questions and activities undertaken by the researchers on CoHERE (Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe). Furthermore, the film is intended to raise questions and provoke discussion about the claims and status of documentary as practice-led research, especially with reference to ‘heritage research’. These questions were the subject of a workshop, Filming the Past in the Present: Heritage and Documentary Practice, organised at Newcastle University by one of the researchers in CoHERE, Gonul Bozlogu.

The issues raised in the workshop are also discussed in a book chapter, ‘Who is Europe? Staging the making of Europe in creative documentary film‘ in Dimensions of Heritage and Memory. This chapter is a set of accounts of the film. It is a conversation between the filmmaker and the editors of Dimensions of Heritage and Memory, some of whom were directly involved in the filmmaking too. It is a good idea to watch the Six-Act version of the film before reading the book chapter!

About the Filmmaker

Ian McDonald is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based at Newcastle University where he is a Reader in Film Practice and Director of the Research Centre for Film.  Ian joined Newcastle University in 2013 and has led the development of documentary filmmaking as a practice-led interdisciplinary area of teaching and research under the banner of Film@CultureLab. Ian’s films have been screened at film festivals, in galleries, at academic conferences and campaign meetings around the world. He works closely with his creative collaborator, the Indian filmmaker Geetha J, who also produces Ian’s documentaries. You can read more about Ian and his academic background, his films and contact details here:

A shooting still of Ian McDonald for Algorithms (2012)

Contact: Ian McDonald at