Documenting the Documentary: Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video / Edition 1

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Documenting the Documentary features essays by 27 film scholars from a wide range of critical and theoretical perspectives. Each essay focuses on one or two important documentaries, engaging in questions surrounding ethics, ideology, politics, power, race, gender, and representation-but always in terms of how they arise out of or are involved in the reading of specific documentaries as particular textual constructions.

By closely reading documentaries as rich visual works, this anthology fills a void in the critical writing on documentaries, which tends to privilege production over aesthetic pleasure.

As we increasingly perceive and comprehend the world through visual media, understanding the textual strategies by which individual documentaries are organized has become critically important. Documenting the Documentary offers clear, serious, and insightful analyses of documentary films, and is a welcome balance between theory and criticism, abstract conceptualization and concrete analysis.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814326398
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 488
  • Sales rank: 1,048,495
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Keith Grant is a professor of film studies at Brock University and is an adjunct faculty member of the graduate program in film and video at York University in Toronto. He is the editor of The Dread of Difference (University of Texas Press,1996) and Film Genre Reader (University of Texas Press, 1995), and is the author of Voyages of Discovery (University of Illinois Press, 1992).

Jeannette Sloniowski is the director of the communication studies program and assistant professor of film at Brock University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 11
Preface 15
Acknowledgments 17
Introduction 19
1 The Filmmaker as Hunter: Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North 23
2 "Peace between Man and Machine": Dziga Vertov's The Man with a Movie Camera 40
3 Paradise Regained: Sergei Eisenstein's Que viva Mexico! as Ethnography 55
4 Synthetic Vision: The Dialectical Imperative of Luis Bunuel's Las Hurdes 70
5 The Art of National Projection: Basil Wright's Song of Ceylon 83
6 The Mass Psychology of Fascist Cinema: Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will 99
7 American Documentary Finds Its Voice: Persuasion and Expression in The Plow That Broke the Plains and The City 119
8 "Men Cannot Act before the Camera in the Presence of Death": Joris Ivens's The Spanish Earth 136
9 The Poetics of Propaganda: Humphrey Jennings and Listen to Britain 154
10 "It Was an Atrocious Film": Georges Franju's Blood of the Beasts 171
11 The "Dialogic Imagination" of Jean Rouch: Covert Conversations in Les maitres fous 188
12 Documenting the Ineffable: Terror and Memory in Alain Resnais's Night and Fog 204
13 "Don't You Ever Just Watch?": American Cinema Verite and Dont Look Back 223
14 "Ethnography in the First Person": Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies 238
15 The Two Avant-gardes: Solanas and Getino's The Hour of the Furnaces 254
16 Seeing with Experimental Eyes: Stan Brakhage's The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes 269
17 "A Bastard Union of Several Forms": Style and Narrative in An American Family 286
18 The Documentary of Displaced Persona: Michael Rubbo's Daisy: The Story of a Facelift 302
19 Gender, Power, and a Cucumber: Satirizing Masculinity in This Is Spinal Tap 318
20 Documentary Film and the Discourse of Hysterical/Historical Narrative: Ross McElwee's Sherman's March 333
21 Subjectivity Lost and Found: Bill Viola's I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like 344
22 The Filmmaker as Global Circumnavigator: Peter Watkins's The Journey and Media Critique 360
23 Mirrors without Memories: Truth, History, and The Thin Blue Line 379
24 Documentaphobia and Mixed Modes: Michael Moore's Roger & Me 397
25 Silence and Its Opposite: Expressions of Race in Tongues Untied 416
26 Containing Fire: Performance in Paris Is Burning 429
27 Contested Territory: Camille Billops and James Hatch's Finding Christa 446
General Bibliography 463
Sources for Films and Videos 469
Film and Video Distributors 471
Contributors 473
Index 477
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