‘Empire’, an interactive documentary on the consequences of colonialism, directed by Kel O’Neill and Eline Jongsma, has been acquired by American broadcast television network PBS, as part of their documentary show POV. In addition to that, O’Neill and Jongsma published ‘Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Dutch Colonialism‘, an art book/travelogue about their experience on the road making Empire, which is on sale from now on.
Empire is a vast documentary project that uses human-scaled storytelling to examine the still unfolding legacy of the world’s first multinational corporations: The Dutch East and West India Companies. They once controlled vast trading networks that stretched from the Cape of Good Hope to the Indonesian archipelago, and from New York to South America’s Wild Coast. Although they came in pursuit of short-term profits, the companies left behind a legacy that can still be seen in the cultures, and in the bloodlines of people and communities around the world.
Shot in ten countries over the course of four years, Empire employs human-scaled storytelling to explore how the conditions of the past impact our lives in the present.The project began as a series of installations presented at film festival like NYFF and SXSW, and by art venues like the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam and Stevenson Cape Town. Indiewire called Empire “a perfect example of interactivity and transmedia storytelling.”
The web version of the project is the directors’ way of making Empire accessible to audiences beyond the film festival and art world. The book is designed by Atelier Carvalho Bernau, and includes new writing and behind-the-scenes photography, plus film stills and essays that O’Neill and Jongsma wrote for Vice and The Creators Project, all wrapped in an interesting reader interface that ties the writing in the book to the online publication.