Direct Cinema is the first comprehensive study of the "direct cinema" movement of 1960s America. Through the inquisitiveness of filmmakers such as Robert Drew, D.A. Pennebaker, and Frederick Wiseman-and predicated on innovations such as portable cameras and synchronized sound-direct cinema intimately documented presidential campaigns through the revelers of Woodstock and the dispossessed subjects of Wiseman's "reality fictions". This volume recovers these vastly influential yet politically underappreciated films, suggesting they represented a resurgence of America's home-grown philosophical tradition inextricably bound up in the artistic and political impulses of the 1960s.
About the Author
Dave Saunders is a visiting tutor at the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London.
What People are Saying About This
To understand documentary film and television today, you have to know the history of American documentary in the 1960s. Direct Cinema establishes this history and demonstrates to readers the value of cultural context. It is a rich and well-researched introduction to one of the decade's most important documentary movements, and covers classics of the genre that every cinephile, film student and documentary maker should know.
Direct Cinema: Observational Documentary and the Politics of the Sixties offers a meticulously researched study of a significant period in the history of North American documentary film. Earlier studies of direct cinema have mostly focused on the technological developments that were prerequisite to the production of this kind of film. The detailed reading of a selection of the better-known films, informed by the cultural and political history of their epoch, is a project that has not previously been undertaken. This volume demonstrates that the social and political contexts upon which observational documentaries drew were every bit as important as in the genesis of this sub-genre. Presented with coherence, clarity and élan, there is much original work here that fills a significant gap in the study of cinema and television.
This authoritative book, a worthy entry in Wallflower Press's indispensable new Nonfictions series, seamlessly combines elegant and insightful close readings of key films of the direct cinema movement of the 1960s with illuminating analyses of their shifting political and cultural contexts... It emerges, in its author's words, as engaging in 'a substantial and compelling dialogue with America, about America, in an epoch beset and defined by upheaval.'
This trenchant study challenges the myths that have come to surround American cinema verite. Instead of rehashing truisms about shaky, hand-held camera work and the movement's fascination with celebrities and eccentric characters, this volume sheds light on the social and political commitment in these so-called 'non-issue' films. Addressing the major filmmakers and canonical works in a single text, this scholarly and readable book will make a particularly good teaching tool.