Med105 documenting facts, truth narrative form

1,198 views

Published on

lecture slides for documentary session on med105 at Sunderland

Published in: Education, Art & Photos, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Med105 documenting facts, truth narrative form

  1. 1. Documenting Facts? Documentary: ‘truth’ and narrative forms #med105 robert.jewitt@sunderland.ac.uk 1
  2. 2. Overview  Documentary  History  Formats  Critique  Multimedia developments 2
  3. 3. Documentary 3
  4. 4. ‘Truth’?  The power of documentary to reveal a ‘truth’ grants it special status  To ‘document’ a subject implies keeping a factual record for future reference 4
  5. 5. John Grierson (1930s-1940s) Education + Propaganda = Social reform? 5
  6. 6. Expositional documentary  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. 6
  7. 7. Observational documentary  1950s onwards  cinema vérité (‘cinema truth’ or ‘direct cinema’)  observe and record the reality of everyday life as it happened without the usual organisational planning and structured direction 7
  8. 8. Fred Wiseman High School (1968, USA) 8
  9. 9. Planet Earth (BBC, 2006) 9
  10. 10. Faking it? 10
  11. 11. real / reality / realism 11
  12. 12. Genre hybrids – ‘fly on the wall’  Paul Watson’s The Family (1974/2008)  Roger Graef’s Police (1982)  Filming events exactly as they happened  Agreeing in advance the specific subjects to be filmed  Showing the edited version to the participants, but only to ensure any factual errors may be corrected 12
  13. 13. Critique  ‘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) 13
  14. 14. Ideological construction 14
  15. 15. BBC2 (2004), Adam Curtis 15
  16. 16. Contemporary developments  Genre hybridity  Deregulation of broadcasting  Competition for attention  Driving School (BBC, 1997)  11 million viewers 16
  17. 17. Participatory mode  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  Michael Moore  Nick Broomfield 17
  18. 18. Reflexive mode  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 18
  19. 19. Reflexive mode 19
  20. 20. Performative mode  Emphasizes the subjective nature of the filmmaker  Polemical, evocative and aiming for affect  Morgan Spurlock  Louis Theroux  Nick Broomfield  Michael Moore 20
  21. 21. Authored documentaries  Fronted by an investigative anchor who is frequently positioned at the centre of an unfolding narrative  A meta commentary (often via voice-over) on the nature of documentary making and representation as processes of construction  Deeply personal 21
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23. Louis and the Nazis (2003) 23
  24. 24. Historical reconstructions?  Challenges posed by distance from the event:  Funding  Interviews with participants  Access to archive footage  Copyright clearance 24
  25. 25. Man on Wire (2008) 25
  26. 26. Ethics  Challenges posed by documenting criminal activity  Access to participants  Undercover surveillance  Honeytraps  Legality 26
  27. 27. The Imposter (2012) 27
  28. 28. Supersize Me (2004) 28
  29. 29. Interactive documentary  Non-linear and interactive  Audience as active participant  Funding problems  Required skillset  Exhibition 29
  30. 30. 30
  31. 31. 31
  32. 32. 32
  33. 33. 33
  34. 34. Summary  Long history of documentary production – origins in educating with the aims being to bring about social change.  Special power of documentary to report the ‘truth’ – to expose hidden agendas and ideological malfeasance.  However, this attempt to speak to the truth is also ideological – the film-maker selects what should be seen, structures it, etc.  Various genre transformations to draw attention to the constructed nature of the format 34
  35. 35. Sources  Erik Barnouw (1993), Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film, Oxford University Press  Stella Bruzzi (2000), New Documentary: a critical introduction, London: Routledge  Simon Cottle (2009) Global Crisis Reporting: Journalism in the Global Age  Bill Nichols (2004) Introduction to Documentary - 2nd Edition, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.  Amir Saeed (2007) 'Media, Racism and Islamophobia: The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media', Sociology Compass (1) (2007) (available at http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00039.x) 35

×