School of Creative Technologies


Photo of Mr Searle Kochberg

Mr Searle Kochberg

  • Qualifications: PG Dip., MA (2), BSc (Hons)
  • Role Title: Principal Lecturer
  • Address: Eldon Building, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth PO1 2DJ
  • Telephone: 023 9284 5923
  • Email:
  • Department: School of Creative Technologies
  • Faculty: Creative and Cultural Industries


Searle Kochberg is a maker and writer on cinema and other performing arts. He is currently pursuing a practical PhD at the University of Portsmouth in Auto-ethnographic Film and Jewish London.  He teaches at the same institution. His areas of research are film studies, directing and script (fiction and nonfiction). 

From 2012 to 2014 Searle produced films funded by the National Lottery Heritage fund to do with personal LGBT Jewish narratives. Currently he is a co-investigator in an Arts and Humanities Research Council film project examining religious ritual in the same LGBT community.

Short documentaries made by Searle have included Leaving the Table (2007) and L'Esprit de l'Escalier (2010) both of which enjoyed exposure at several international film festivals.  His only play, Isle of Joy was presented as a workshop performance at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London, 2007. His most recent production is a narrative experiment in animation and live action with a non-fiction “tone”, Dream Life of Debris (2014).

Searle has edited the textbook, Introduction to Documentary Production (2002) and contributed to Introduction to Film Studies (2012) and Promotion in the Age of Convergence (2012).

Teaching Responsibilities

Academic roles

  • Head of BA Contextual Studies (School of Creative Technologies)
  • Course Leader, MSc Film and Television (School of Creative Technologies)

Teaching roles – BA (Hons) Television and Film Production

  • CT6WPRO – Coordinator of BA (Hons) Television and Film Production and BA (Hons) Animation Extended Essay Project
  • CT6MAJOR - Co-deliverer of BA (Hons) Television and Film Production Major Project unit
  • CT5SKILL – Coordinator of BA (Hons) Television and Film Production Contextual Studies Skills unit
  • CT5DOC – Co-deliverer of BA (Hons) Television and Film Production Documentary Practice unit
  • CT4FILMS - Coordinator of BA (Hons) Television and Film Production Film Form and Narrative unit

Teaching roles – MSc Film and Television

  • CT7PCODE – Supervisor of student projects Project Context and Definition unit
  • CT7PDEDE ­– Supervisor of student projects Project Design and Development unit
  • CT7PEVRE – Supervisor of student projects Project Evaluation and Resolution unit


Current activity

IVM4 Let Me Take You by the Hand

I am currently pursuing a practical PhD in documentary art practice, adapting the “walking interview” method (Evans and Jones, 2011) to film the walks of Jewish (mainly Gay) men, designed by them to portray their Jewish London.

If the traditional film/ TV documentary about London Jewish life tends to focus on the stereotypical “authentic” (after Boyarin 1993: 693-725) religious North London enclaves, my work focuses on a marginalised group within the Jewish community, giving voice to the ethnic/religious experiences of Liberal Gay Jewish men of which I am one.

And despite trends toward assimilation in the UK, there is evidence to suggest that for reasons to do with self-identification as ”other”, Jewish Londoners continue to have a heightened awareness of where they are within the public realm, whether they are religious or not (quote by Professor Laura Vaughan to me, 2012).  This is doubly true for Gay Jews, inhabiting a public space where identities are both ‘asserted and “under threat”’ where ‘subjects can come to cite themselves in recognised as well as unpredictable ways’ as Valerie Hey points out (2006: 452). 

In my paper, I will reflect on the collaborative filmed walks and what happens on/in them.

  • What places do participants create for themselves in the public spaces of London?
  • How do they “ethno-think” as a consequence of the filmed walk? (Rouch, 2003)
  • When and how do they incorporate religious ritual into the walks?
  • What are the stimuli for these performative elements?

Extracts from the films will be shown.

IMV4 Exploring and Documenting Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Narratives through Ritual Bricolage

The hetero-normative expectations of much of Jewish cultural and religious life has created a situation where LGBTQI Jews often feel detached from ritual and practice (Schneer & Aviv, 2002; Alpert, 1998) experiencing a sense of cultural loss, whilst also experiencing discrimination in some key ritual settings. This problem is particularly acute for Trans-Jews who report that they can be confined to a ‘limbo’ situation, even in contexts where lesbian and gay co-religionists are accepted as full members of a congregation (see Dzmura, 2011). Over the past year the AHRC funded project Ritual Reconstructed: challenges to disconnection, division and exclusion in the Jewish LGBTQI community has been creating a series of films and encouraging members of the Jewish LGBTQI community to engage with ritual bricolage with personally meaningful ritual objects (re)viewed and presented through film, story, music and art. Drawing on the concepts of ritual and methodological bricolage, this paper discusses the narratives that participants have created and explores how they have used ritual objects (eg kippot and yarzheit candles) and material culture and ephemera (eg AIDS Quilts, Siddurim inserts from ‘Pride Havurah’ etc.) to construct meaning and (re)create faith rituals which reflect the merging of core Jewish and queer identities.

To find out more about the project visit

Other activity

Searle’s areas of research are film studies, directing and script (fiction and nonfiction).

In the last few years Searle has been an integral contributor to the two externally funded audio-visual projects documenting the LGBT Jewish community in the UK: Rainbow Jews (National Lottery Heritage Fund, 2012-2015) and Ritual Reconstructed: Connected Communities (AHRC fund, 2014-2015).

Searle has also produced a significant body of film work dealing with other Jewish stories, including the documentaries Irene Runge: My Way (2002), Leaving the Table (2007) and L'Esprit de l'Escalier (2010), as well as the play, Isle of Joy (2007). His most recent film production is a narrative experiment in animation and live action with a non-fiction “tone”, Dream Life of Debris (2014).


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile