Mac323 documenting 21st century wars lecture [2012]

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Slides to go with the LEvel 3 film studies lecture

Slides to go with the LEvel 3 film studies lecture

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  • 1. 1DOCUMENTING 21STCENTURY WARSMAC323 | robert.jewitt@sunderland.ac.uk
  • 2. Afghanistan (2001-?) | Iraq (2003-2 2011)
  • 3. Structure3  Documentary aims  Vietnam’s legacy  Contemporary conflicts
  • 4. The cost of war?4  Deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq?  919,967 (Source)  US military expenditure in decade since 9/11  $1.36 trillion
  • 5. Documenting ‘truth’?5  The power of documentary to reveal a ‘truth’ grants it special status  To ‘document’ a subject implies keeping a factual record for future reference
  • 6. John Grierson (1930s-1940s)6  Education + propaganda = social reform?
  • 7. The expositional mode7  See Bill Nichols (1991/2004)  Tended to depict institutions, communities and traditions  Public mode of address:  Highly formal  Serious  Educational  Aimed at informing citizens in a mass democracy.
  • 8. The observational mode8  1950s onwards  cinema vérité  ‘cinema truth’  ‘direct cinema’  observe and record the reality of everyday life as it happened without the usual organisational planning and structured direction  ‘fly on the wall’
  • 9. Critique9  ‘To be sure, some documentarists claim to be objective – a term that seems to renounce an interpretive role. The claim may be strategic, but it is surely meaningless.  The documentarists, like any communicator in any medium makes endless choices. He (sic) selects topics, people, vistas, angles, lens, juxtapositions, sounds, words.  Each selection is an expression of his point of view, whether he is aware of it or not, whether he acknowledges it or not.’  Erik Barnouw (1993: 287)
  • 10. Ideological construction10
  • 11. The participatory mode11  Welcomes direct engagement between filmmaker and subject(s)  Filmmaker:  becomes part of the events being recorded  is acknowledged (even celebrated) for their impact on events
  • 12. The reflexive mode12  Acknowledges the constructed nature of documentary  Artifice is exposed  Not ‘truth’ but a reconstruction of ‘a’ truth, not ‘the’ truth  Frequently features the film-maker making the documentary  De-mystifying its processes
  • 13. The performative mode13  Emphasizes the subjective nature of the filmmaker  Polemical, evocative and aiming for affect
  • 14. The golden age of14 documentary?  Afghanistan
  • 15. The golden age of15 documentary?  Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death (2002, UK, Jamie Doran)  Commando: On the Front Line – TV series (2007, UK, Christopher Terrill)  Taxi to the Dark Side (2007, USA, Alex Gibney)  Taking on the Taliban (2007, UK, BBC)  Afghanistan: The Forgotten War (2008, USA, unknown)  Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear (2008, Canada, Dominic Morissette, Julian Sher, Andrea Thiel)  Jack: A Soldiers Story (2008, UK Robin Barnwell, Nick Norman-Butler)  Tree Bloody Summers (2008, UK, Richard Grange)  Armadillo (2010, Denmark, Janus Metz Pedersen)  Restrepo (2010, USA, Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger)  The Battle for Marjah (2010, USA, Anthony Wonke)
  • 16. The golden age of16 documentary?  Iraq
  • 17. The golden age of17 documentary?  In Shifting Sands (2001, USA, Scott Ritter)  About Baghdad (2003, USA, Sinan Antoon, Bassam Haddad, Maya Mikdashi, Suzy Salamy, Adam Shapiro)  Baghdad or Bust (2004, Canada, Matt Frame)  Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (2003, UK, Steve Connelly, John Pilger)  Control Room (2004, USA, Jehane Noujaim)  Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004, USA, Michael Moore)  Gunner Palace (2004, USA, Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker)  Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories (2004, USA, Mike Shiley)  Last Letters Home: Voices of American Troops from the Battlefields of Iraq (2004, USA, Bill Couturié)  Soldiers Pay (2004, USA, Tricia Regan, David O. Russell, Juan Carlos Zaldívar)  Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004, USA, Robert Greenwald)  Voices of Iraq (2004, Iraq/USA, People of Iraq)  War Feels Like War (2004, UK, Esteban Uyarra)  We Iraqis (2004, France, Abbas Fahdel)  WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004, USA, Danny Schecter)
  • 18. The golden age of18 documentary?  In the Shadow of the Palms (2005, Australia, Wayne Coles-Janess)  Occupation: Dreamland (2005, USA, Ian Olds, Garrett Scott)  The Dreams of Sparrows (2005, Iraq/USA, Haydar Daffar, Haydar Mousa Daffar)  Why We Fight (2005, USA/France/UK/Canada/Denmark, Eugene Jarecki)  Alpha Company: Iraq Diary (2006, USA, Gordon Forbes III)  Baghdad ER (2006, USA, Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill)  Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006, USA, Robert Greenwald)  Iraq in Fragments (2006, USA, James Longley)  My Country, My Country (2006, USA, Laura Poitras)  The Ground Truth (2006, USA, Patricia Foulkrod)  The War Tapes (2006, USA, Deborah Scranton)  When I Came Home (2006,USA, Dan Lohaus)
  • 19. The golden age of19 documentary?  Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq (2007, USA, Jon Alpert, Ellen Goosenberg Kent)  Body of War (2007, USA, Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro)  Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (2007, USA, Rory Kennedy)  I Am an American Soldier (2007, UK/USA, John Laurence)  No End in Sight (2007, USA, Charles Ferguson)  Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007, USA, Richard Robbins)  This Is War: Memories of Iraq (2007, USA, Gary Mortensen)  Three Soldiers (2007, USA, Shailly Agnihotri)  Year at Danger (2007, USA, Steve Metze, Don Swaynos)
  • 20. The golden age of20 documentary?  Bad Voodoos War (2008, USA, Deborah Scranton)  Fighting for Life (2008, USA, Terry Sanders)  My Vietnam, Your Iraq (2008, USA, Ron Osgood)  Reserved to Fight (2008, USA, Chantelle Squires)  The Corporals Diary: 38 Days in Iraq (2008, USA, Patricia Boiko, Lauren Spellman)  Brothers at War (2009, USA, Jake Rademacher)  Triangle of Death (2009, USA, Folleh Shar Tamba)  The Unreturned (2010, USA/Canada, Nathan Fisher)  The War You Dont See (2010, UK, Alan Lowrey, John Pilger)  The Tillman Story (2010, USA, Amir Bar-Lev)
  • 21. The golden age of21 documentary?
  • 22. Legacy of Vietnam22
  • 23. Managing expectations23
  • 24. Embedding24
  • 25. CentCom25
  • 26. CentCom26 • CentCom (Qatar) • $1.5m briefing centre • Plasma screens, mini studious, phone banks • Designed by Hollywood set designer, George Allison • Platform for truth (US General Tommy Franks) • Seating arrangements reflected pecking order
  • 27. Unilaterals27
  • 28. Restrepo28 (2010, S. Junger & T. Hetherington )
  • 29. Armchair critics29
  • 30. Fahrenheit 9/1130  $6 million budget  Miramax (Disney)  Lion’s Gate
  • 31. WMD: Weapons of Mass31 Deception  Danny Schechter
  • 32. Control Room32  Behind the scenes access to Al Jazeera at CentCom (Doha, Qatar)
  • 33. ‘Grunt documentaries’33  ‘by privileging personal experience over historical awareness, these accounts construct a version of the war in which it becomes impossible to apprehend such atrocities as Haditha, Ramadi, Abu Ghraib’
  • 34. Restrepo34  The Korengal Valley  Embedded with Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army
  • 35. Seminars35  Where does Restrepo fit?  What kind of documentary is it?  What function does it serve?
  • 36. Sources and further reading:36  Jeffrey Chown (2008) ‘Documentary and the Iraq War: A New Genre for New Realities’ in Peter C. Rollins & John E. O’Connor (2008) Why We Fought: America’s Wars in Film and History, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.  Tony Grajeda (2007) ‘The winning and losing of hearts and minds: Vietnam, Iraq, and the claims of the war documentary’, Jump Cut, No. 49, http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc49.2007/Grajeda/text.html  Douglas Kellner (2010) Cinema Wars: Hollywood Film and Politics in the Bush-Cheney Era, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.  Sherry Ricchiardi (2007) ‘Obstructed View’, American Journalism Review, April/May 2007, http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4301  Peter C. Rollins & John E. O’Connor (2008) Why We Fought: America’s Wars in Film and History, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.