CounterArchive: Fictional Healing

A collective filmmaking workshop
Facilitated by Michelle Williams Gamaker, Sabine Groenewegen, Ong Jo-Lene

Supported by the British Council’s Connections Through Culture Grant Programme

28 – 30 June 2024

Malaysia Design Archive

Apply now for CounterArchive: Fictional Healing collective filmmaking workshop facilitated by Michelle Williams Gamaker, Sabine Groenewegen, Ong Jo-Lene. Join a cohort of leading artistic practitioners in developing counter-narratives to the colonial myths surrounding the Malayan Emergency using processes that explore the potential of filmmaking as a form of reparation.

CounterArchive is a recurring program proposing alternatives to the record of official history through non-exhibition, process driven and collaborative activities.

The first iteration in 2024 is anchored around CounterArchive: Fictional Healing, a collective filmmaking workshop facilitated by Michelle Williams Gamaker, Sabine Groenewegen, and Ong Jo-Lene. Utilising fiction and filmmaking, it aims to nurture the development of counter-narratives to established histories and colonial myths surrounding the Malayan Emergency.

We are looking for 10 artists/filmmakers/creative practitioners who are interested in subverting the archive and working collectively to write, direct, and shoot a short film. Participants will be introduced to Williams Gamaker’s Fictional Healing approach and Groenewegen’s methods of interrogating the archive. Together, we will work through archival material from the National Archives UK, fragmented family history, transgenerational memories, and colonial wounds, to explore the potential of filmmaking as a form of reparation.

Participants must be open to:

  • Bringing materials that excavate their own relationship to the period of Malayan Emergency or its legacies. These can be in the form of video footage, still images, audio recordings, found footage, family photos, home movies, interviews with relatives, letters, or written text.
  • Sharing how we each personally relate to this history.
  • Contributing to various steps in making a short film from concept, writing, shooting, directing, and editing.
  • Collectively owning the short video resulting from the workshop.

Who can apply?

  • Artists, filmmakers, and creative practitioners of all ages and stages of practice, priority to Malaysians. 
  • Experience in working with film/moving image/video is useful but not necessary. 
  • Able to attend all 3-days of the workshop. (Participants will receive a per-diem for each day)

How to apply?

Send an email to mycounterarchive(AT) by 15 May with your:

  1. CV
  2. Visual documentation of recent works (in a PDF or link to your website).
  3. Letter of motivation (max. 1 page A4). In this letter you can explain briefly why you would like to participate / how you relate to the intentions of the workshop / what you might want to do or bring to the workshop.


Michelle Williams Gamaker is an award-winning British-Sri Lankan moving image artist. She has developed Fictional Activism to interrogate 20th Century cinema, by retelling the histories of marginalised actors and by proposing critical alternatives to colonial storytelling in British and Hollywood studio films. Her major institutional solo exhibition, Our Mountains are Painted on Glass premiered Thieves (2023), her first film in Fictional Revenge. She is currently working toward a new body of work in Fictional Healing, which will complete her Critical Affection Trilogy. Williams Gamaker is joint winner of Film London’s Jarman Award (2020) and has an extensive national and international profile, including prestigious BFI London Film Festivals (2017, 2018 and 2021), Aesthetica Short Film Festival (winner of Best Experimental Film, 2021 and 2023) and Raindance (2022). Williams Gamaker is Reader in BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is currently a British Academy Wolfson Fellow. She is a Studio Artist at Gasworks, where she is also a trustee.

Sabine Groenewegen is an award winning filmmaker and visual artist. She is developing her Missing Scenes, a body of work prompted by the discovery of vanished scenes from a Dutch pre war film set on a rubber plantation in Sumatra. In her work, she probes various archives to interrogate Dutch narratives which shaped colonial fantasies and erased intimate realities produced by imperial profit models. Her works have been shown in Wereldmuseum, Amsterdam and 1646 The Hague, Institute of Contemporary Art:ICA, BOZAR Brussels, Azkuna Bilbao, Doclisboa, FIDMarseille and Cinéma du Réel, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Ong Jo-Lene is a curator based in the Netherlands and Malaysia. She was program advisor for the 12th Seoul Mediacity Biennale. Her practice engages with counter-colonial imaginations of history, infrastructures, and kinship. Past projects include Other Futures (2021), Hartwig Art Foundation Production | Collection Fund (2020-21), Practice Space (2019) published by De Appel and NAME Publications, SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now (2017). She has been awarded fellowships and residencies by De Appel, Delfina Foundation, Ishibashi Foundation/Japan Foundation, and MMCA Seoul. Jo-Lene teaches at Gerrit Rietveld Academie and co-curates Canal++ film club.

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