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Mr Searle Kochberg

Principal Lecturer

Searle Kochberg


I am a maker and writer on cinema and other performing arts. I am currently pursuing a Practice PhD at the University of Portsmouth in community participatory documentary.

My short films have included Leaving the Table (2007) and L'Esprit de l'Escalier (2010) both of which enjoyed exposure at several international film festivals. I am currently completing my first mixed animation/live action docu drama on Leon Trotsky entitled Dream Life of Debris.

I have co-written and edited the textbook, Introduction to Documentary Production (2002) and contributed to Introduction to Film Studies (2012) and Promotion in the Age of Convergence (2013).

My only play, Isle of Joy, was presented as a workshop performance at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London, 2005.

Research Interests

I am currently a candidate for a practice PhD in community/ participatory documentary and cine ethnography, My Jewish London, University of Portsmouth. There is evidence to suggest that for reasons to do with self-identification as ‘other’  that Jewish Londoners will have a heightened awareness of where they are within the public realm (paraphrasing Vaughan, 2012). Rituals, performativity, social practices that are played out in “private” may bleed into what is recorded in “public,” on the walk by the participants (see Botticello 2007: 7-24). In my practical PhD I explore the utility of the recorded film event at the moment of creation, the contemplative walk as a 'moment' of co-creative performance for maker and on screen, exploring its potential to decentre, challenge and upstage the dominant representation of Jewish London in mainstream documentary. I have taken as my fieldwork study the Liberal/Reform Jewish London Community – in particular the communities self defined as LGBT+ – Rainbow Jews. This work builds on previous research projects, Rainbow Jews (2012-14, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund) and Ritual Reconstructed (2014-16, funded by AHRC, as part of the Connected Communities strand).

Apart from the PhD research, I am currently involved with the research project Empowering Design Practices, looking at UK religious buildings and their 'social' secular uses by the community (OU project funded by AHRC, 2016+), and the Lyons Learning Project (funded by a donation from the Lyons Foundation, 2018) - a West London Synagogue Community education project looking at Jewish cross platform storytelling - and taking its lead from my PhD research. 

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