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The Story of a Rebel and His Mic


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The Performative Documentary

The Performative Documentary

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  • 1. The Story of a Rebel and His MikeTH E PE R F O R MATI V E D O C U M E N TAR Y Harrison Golden
  • 2. Bill NicholsIntroduction to Documentary, 2001
  • 3. Nichols’s Approach“The performative mode raises questions about whatknowledge actually amounts to. What counts as understanding orcomprehension? What besides factual information goes into ourunderstanding of the world?”“The world as represented by performative documentariesbecomes, however, suffused by evocative tones andexpressive shadings that constantly remind us that the world ismore than the sum of the visible evidence we derive from it.”“[This] calls for an emotional responsiveness from thatacknowledges how understanding this event within anypreestablished frame of reference is an utter impossibility.”
  • 4. Performative vs. ParticipatoryParticipatory mode engages the filmmakerto the story but attempts to describeuniversalized truths.Performativemode engages the filmmakerto the story but constructs the filmmaker’sopenly subjective truths.
  • 5. Stella BruzziNew Documentary, 2000
  • 6. Bruzzi’s Approach“Within such a realist aesthetic, the role of performanceis, paradoxically, to draw the audience into the realityof the situations being dramatized.”“The traditional concept of documentary as striving torepresent reality as faithfully as possible is predicatedupon the realist assumption that the productionprocess must be disguised, as was the case withdirect cinema.”
  • 7. Bruzzi’s Approach“Culminating in the recent work offilmmakers… documentary has anestablished tradition of the performerdirector.”
  • 8. Who is the Performer-Director?An auteur filmmaker who combines personalityand technology. From both sides of thecamera, the stories he/she tells are deeplypersonal and incorporate outlook and voice inways never before seen in the world of cinema.The performer-director exemplifies the notionthat life is one of those things that is greater thanthe mere sum of its parts.
  • 9. “What is a documentary but a dialogue between a filmmaker, a crew, and a situation that… has irrevocably been changed by that arrival?”
  • 10. “The films ofBroomfield, Moore, and others have sought to accentuate, notmask, the means of production because they realize that such a masquerade [of finding one universal truth] is impossibly utopian.” - Stella Bruzzi
  • 11. Michael MooreRoger & Me, 1989
  • 12. Roger & MeAfter a major General Motors plant closes in hishometown of Flint, Michigan, filmmaker Michael Mooretravels around the country to meet with then-CEORoger Smith in order to find out his thoughts on how theshutdown will affect working families.He chronicles his search for Smith and his dream toconfront him in person.In the process, he finds men, women, and childrencaught in a storm of debt, unemployment, andhardship.
  • 13. Nick BroomfieldKurt & Courtney, 1998
  • 14. Kurt & CourtneyFollowing the death of Nirvana lead singer, Kurt Cobain, manysought to make sense of the ambiguities associated with the April1994 tragedy.Many are still unsure whether Cobain committed suicide or if hiswife, Hole frontwomanCourtney Love, murdered him.Director Nick Broomfield not only creates a portrait of themusical legends, but also opens up about his ownpersonality, one of curiosity and hunger for confrontation.With his signature boom micand a mind full of questions, he isnot afraid to open up about his own thoughts and his methodsof production.
  • 15. Concluding Thoughts…The key element is honesty.
  • 16. Concluding Thoughts…In a world flooded with information(Internet, TV, print, radio), filmmakers and viewers alike muststop and analyze how the news affectsinteractions withpeople.The only way to do that is to interact with people and listento their words, their instincts, and what they are feeling.Our minds must continue navigating. We must continuelistening to our own beliefs and the very connections thatdefine our outlook.Embrace the journey!