Documentary Midterm

  1. Bill Nichols
    • Wrote Introduction to Documentary and Blurred Boundaries
    • an internationally recognized authority on documentary and ethnographic film
    • Said, “Every film is a documentary”
  2. Fiction Films (or Documentaries of Wish Fulfillment)
    • Nichols calls them “documentaries of wish fulfillment” (or if DWF, fiction films)
    • Included by Nichols as documentary films because “even the most whimsical of fictions gives evidence of the culture that produced it”
    • They give tangible expressions to our wishes, dreams, nightmares dreads (or) Make the stuff of the imagination concrete – visible and audible.
    • convey truths if we decide they do
  3. Documentary Film
    • Definition is always relational or comparative. What we used to define a documentary is always changing.
    • Give tangible representation to the aspects of the world we already inhabit and share.
    • We see people places and things that we might also see for ourselves outside the cinema. Offer aural and visual likeness or representations of some part of the historical world.
    • Nichols calls “documentaries of social representation” in contrast to fiction films, which he calls ‘documentaries of wish fulfillment”
    • Present a high degree of verisimilitude, but still represent the filmmakers take on reality rather than reality itself.
    • Stand for or represent the views of individuals, groups or institutions. Make representations, mount arguments, or formulate persuasive strategies of their own, setting out to persuade us to accept their views as appropriate.
  4. Social Actors
    • The people who appear in documentary films Value to the filmmaker is based in what their own lives embody (in contrast to actors in fiction films)
    • There are many ethical issues that must be addressed in representation of social actors, such as how honest to be about your intended representation of them, for example Michael Moore’s rather foolish representation of town inhabitants in Roger and Me
    • Act differently, even if only slightly, when they are conscious of being filmed
  5. Documentary Ethics
    Ethics exist to govern the conduct of groups regarding matters for which hard and fast rules, or laws, will not suffice. Ethical considerations attempt to minimize harmful effects

    Concern ways it is appropriate to represent social actors, how much a filmmaker needs to inform social actors of how they will be represented, whether or not a filmmaker should intervene with the subjects if they are in danger

    Mentioned in class: Dave Ellsworth mentioned the kids featured in “the way home” and we looked at the photo of a little girl being stalked by a vulture.

    Questions have arisen around Michael Moore’s Roger and Me concerning the discrepancies between the timeline he represents in the film and the historical timeline of represented events, as well as the way he represents both executives and townspeople in the film.
  6. Verisimilitude
    • the appearance or semblance of truth
    • Verisimilitude is achieved by a writer or storyteller when he presents striking details which lend an air of authenticity to a tale.
    • Documentary film by its nature has a high degree of verisimilitude
  7. Digital technology
    • The process of capturing motion pictures as digital images, rather than on film.
    • makes it much easier to alter or fabricate images
    • can make it much less expensive to capture and edit images and films
  8. Gazes
    • Mentioned by Linda Williams in reference to documentary “gazes” created by Sobchack and Nichols
    • Six Views: clinical or professional gaze, the accidental gaze, the helpless gaze, the endangered gaze, the humane gaze, interventional gaze
    • Williams mentions several gazes that O’Rourke uses in The good Woman of Bangkok, including clinical or professional, participatory gaze (her own term), interventional gaze
  9. Ethnographic film
    • An ethnographic film is a documentary film related to the methods of ethnology.
    • It emerged in the 1960's as an important tool for research in the domain of visual anthropology, when filming human groups in society.
    • Deals with ethical issues including representations of people by those outside of the culture that is being represented.
    • Filmmakers often look for ways to shoot without misrepresenting the culture the are documenting. In reassemblage Trinh T. Minha says intends “not to speak about/Just speak near by”
  10. Avant-garde
    • means "advance guard"
    • used in English, to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.
    • experimental cinema describes a range of filmmaking styles that are generally quite different from, and often opposed to, the practices of mainstream commercial and documentary filmmaking.
  11. Rhetoric
    • 1. form of speech used to persuade or convince others about an issue for which no clear-cut, unequivocal answer or solution exists
    • 2. a usual means by which a documentary filmmaker attempts to persuade us to accept their point of view as the truth
    • 3. differs from the reason used to find a mathematic proof, as well as from poetic or narrative speech, although it may employ poetic or narrative speech.
  12. The Laramie Project
    • Play written by members of the Tectonic Theater Project in response to the death of Matthew Sheppard and the reaction of Laramie, Wyoming where he lived and the nation at large.
    • A compilation of hundreds of interviews between Laramie residents and Tectonic theater company
    • members Dealt as much or more with the reaction of the town than the event itself, unlike “Death on the High Desert”.
  13. Mathew Sheppard
    • Subject of the Laramie Project and Death on the High Desert.
    • A homosexual student of the University of Wyoming who was severely beaten and tied to a fence post and left for dead.
    • He was targeted because of his homosexuality. He later died in the hospital.
    • Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels
  14. Tectonic Theater Project
    Theater company that wrote and developed the Laramie Project.

    • Moises Kaufman
    • The company is dedicated to developing innovative works that explore theatrical language and form, fostering an artistic dialogue with our audiences on the social, political and human issues that affect us all.
  15. Moisés Kaufman
    • Author of the Laramie Project. Also wrote Gross Indecency
    • Member of Tectonic Theater company
    • Venezuelan born, homosexual.

    Greatly influence by Brecht

    “There are moments in history when a particular event brings the various ideologies and beliefs prevailing in a culture into sharp focus”
  16. Romaine Patterson
    • Friend of Matthew Sheppard who was featured in The Laramie Project.
    • Started Angel Action to block the protest of Fred Phelps at the trial for one of M.S. killers.
    • Now a radio personality and activist
  17. Death in the High Desert
    • A&E documentary about Mathew Sheppard’s death
    • Focused on the events of MS death and not much at all on the effects on MS’s community
    • featured Sheppard’s mother, unlike Laramie Project.
  18. Nonfiction Feature
    • Errol Morris talks about it in his Harvard address.
    • Term coined by Errol Morris to describe his films
    • In the Harvard address he says that it is really a marketing tool – probably similar to Truman Capote’s non fiction novel
  19. The Brandon Teena Story
    • documentary about the death of Brandon teena and two other people
    • Interrupts the action of the film with sort of upbeat cowboy music that might serve as a break from the emotional intensity of the story
    • Uses a lot of landscape images of the depressed area in which the murder took place
  20. Lana Tisdale
    • Social Actor in the Brandon Teena Story, and character in Boys don’t cry
    • Girlfriend of Brandon
    • Interviews in the film show her in different places (bedroom, next to mother) and her demeanor varies greatly between the different locals.
  21. Tom Nissen
    • Social Actor in the Brandon Teena Story, and character in Boys don’t cry
    • Murdered BT and two other people in a farmhouse
    • serving life in prison.
  22. John Lotter
    • Social Actor in the Brandon Teena Story, and character in Boys don’t cry
    • Murdered BT and two other people in a farmhouse
    • On death row
  23. Boys Don’t Cry
    • Fictional account of the murder of Brandon Teena
    • Took a lot of creative license with the story and characters
    • Directed by Kimberly Pierce
  24. Embodied Knowledge
    • The collective experience of a culture
    • filmmaking can be understood as a process of generating and embodying knowledge
    • Embodied knowledge can be seen in juxtaposition to localized knowledge, the latter being more conclusive in nature and framed to a certain time, space and performer
    • A physical knowing that comes from direct experience. Embodied knowledge is more inclined towards an exploratory process of knowledge
    • Talked about in Nichols work, particularly in Blurred Boundaries
  25. Erroll Morris
    • Director of Thin Blue Line, Fog of War
    • “Film lies 24 times a second”
    • “style doesn’t guarantee truth” in reference to styles (fonts, camera techniques, etc) that are used to encourage audiences to accept what is being presented to them as truth
  26. Institutional Framework
    • “Documentaries are what the organizations and institutions that produce them make”
    • Knowing who made the film helps to let us know what to expect from the film.
    • Imposes limits or conventions on filmmaker. By suppressing questions around the difference between reality and representation of that reality it also suppress the complexity between representation and reality, but also achieves clarity and simplicity that implies that documentaries achieve direct, truthful access to the real
  27. Documentary conventions
    • Can help to define what a documentary is
    • Errol Morris talks about working against conventions of doc film
    • include voice of God narration, interviews, archive footage, editing styles
  28. Modes (of documentary Film)
    • Classifications created by Bill Nichols regarding types of documentary films
    • Six Modes: Poetic Mode, Expository Mode, Observational, Participatory, Reflexive, Performative
    • Multiple types can be used in each film
    • each mode may arise partly as a response to perceived limitations in previous modes, partly as a response to technical possibilities, partly as a response to a changing social context
  29. epistephilia
    • a desire to know
    • Mentioned by Nichols in Intro to documentary
    • stimulated by documentary film
  30. Discourses of sobriety
    • mentioned in Introduction to Documentary by Bill Nichols
    • The ways we have of speaking directly about social and historical reality such as science, economics, medicine, military strategy, foreign policy and educational policy.
    • when we step inside an institutional framework that supports these ways of speaking, we assume an instrumental power: What we say and decide can affect the course of real events and entail real consequences.
    • An air of sobriety surrounds these discourses because they are seldom receptive to whim of fantasy, to make believe characters of imaginary worlds.
    • vehicles of action and intervention, power and knowledge, desire and will, directed toward the world we all physically inhabit and share.
  31. Poetic Mode
    • One of the modes of documentary film described by Bill Nichols.
    • emphasizes visual associations, tonal or rhythmic qualities, descriptive passages and formal organization.
    • Bears a close proximity to experimental, personal or avant-garde filmmaking.
    • Examples: The Bridge, Song of Ceylon, Listen to Britain, Night and Fog
  32. Expository Mode
    • One of the modes of documentary film described by Bill Nichols.
    • emphasizes verbal commentary and an argumentative logic.
    • Usually makes use of VOG commentary
    • Examples: The plow that broke the Plains, Trance and Dance in Bali, Spanish Earth, television news
    • This is the mode that most people associate with documentary film in general
  33. Observational Mode
    • One of the modes of documentary film described by Bill Nichols.
    • emphasizes direct engagement with the everyday life of subjects as observed by an unobtrusive camera
    • Examples: High School, Primary, Soldier Girls
  34. Participatory Mode
    • emphasizes the interaction between filmmaker and subject filming
    • takes place by means of interviews or other forms of even more direct involvement
    • Often coupled with archival footage to examine historical issues
    • Examples: chronicle of a summer, Shoah, The Sorrow and the Pity, Kurt and Courtney
  35. Reflexive Mode
    • calls attention to the assumptions and conventions that govern documentary filmmaking.
    • Increases our awareness of the constructedness of the film’s representation of reality.
    • Examples: The man with a movie camera, land without bread, the ax vight, the war game, reassemblage
  36. Performative Mode:
    • emphasizes the subjective or expressive aspect of the filmmakers own engagement with the subject and an audiences responsiveness to this engagement.
    • rejects notions of objectivity in favor of evocation and effect
    • Examples: unfinished diary, history and memory, The act of seeing with one’s own eyes, Tongues untied, COPS
    • films in this mode all share qualities with the experimental, personal, and avant-garde, but with a strong emphasis on their emotional and social impact on an audience.
  37. Indexicality
    • a sign or utterance that indicates, or refers to something real
    • Documentary in general is assumed to be indexical (unlike fiction film).
    • a mode in which the signifier is not arbitrary but is directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to the signified - this link can be observed or inferred Indexicality relates to the Expository Mode in that is assumed by viewers to be an almost unaltered and faithful reproduction reality, unlike the Poetic Mode for instance.
  38. Alterity
    • 1. A philosophical term meaning otherness
    • 2. Major ethical issue in ethnographic documentary films – how does one accurately represent what one is not? Otherizing subjects in patronizing ways is an imperialistic problem of traditional ethnography
    • 3. Alterity is a problem ethnographers grapple with because it is one of the main issues with the "crisis of representation"
    • 4. some tactics for dealing with it have been to refrain from comment as much as possible (Trin T. Minh ha) or to allow the subjects of the film to direct or hold the camera (Passing Girl Riverside)
  39. Mimesis
    • 1. to imitate 2. Plato contrasted mimesis, or imitation, with diegesis, or narrative. 3. Film closely mimics subjective truth, but is never subjective Informed Consent (p.10) 1. Holds that participants in a study should be told of possible consequences of their participation
    • 2. Ethical issue in documentary – how much should filmmakers have to tell the people they are representing? Is it okay to mock people?
    • 3. Examples given were Sherman’s March, Roger and Me.
  40. Three-Fold Interaction (p.13)
    • 1. referred to by Bill Nichols in Introduction to Documentary
    • 2. refers to the interaction between the filmmaker, subjects or social actors, and audience or reviewers
    • 3. Most classic formulation is I speak to them about you, but could also be I speak about them to you, or It speaks to them about us, or I speak about us to you.
  41. Voice of God/Authority (p.13)
    • 1. a disembodied voice narrating in a documentary film
    • 2. can act as a surrogate persona for a filmmaker
    • 3. arose in the 1930s as a convenient way to describe a situation or problem, present an argument, propose a solution and sometimes evoke a tone or mood
    • 4. Can also act as a voice of authority, lending credit to the argument that the filmmaker is presenting
  42. Auto-ethnography (p.18)
    • 1. The efforts of indigenous people to make films and videos about their own culture
    • 2. Can be films about one’s own family
    • 3. by speaking about an us that includes the filmmakers these films achieve a great deal of intimacy
  43. Texts
    • 1. Anything within a documentary film that communicates some kind of knowledge – embodied or otherwise
    • 2. Can be VOG narration, music, editing
    • 3. A text in “The Brandon Teena Story” is the quirky musical interludes
  44. Mocumentary (p.23)
    • 1. Use institutional framing in a mischievous or ironic way
    • 2. announces itself as a documentary and later is revealed to be fabrication
    • 3. Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman
  45. Aristotle’s Artistic Proofs (p.50):
    • 1. Ethical, Emotional, Demonstrative
    • 2. In Rhetoric Aristotle divided artistic proofs into three types
    • 3. Each strives to convince us of an arguments or perspective’s validity.
    • 4. calls on orater or filmmaker to be credible, convincing and compelling
  46. Arrangement (p.56)
    • 1. involves the usual order of parts in a rhetorical speech, or in this case, film
    • 2. Can be a simple problem solution structure, or can be more comprehensive.
    • 3. Can be opening, clarification, direct argument, rebut, summation
  47. The Triangle of Communication (p.61)
    • 1. the intertwining of three stories – the documentary filmmakers, the subject, and the audience.
    • 2. All viewers come to the film with certain expectations based on past experiences, and the film will occur differently than for others.
    • 3. Triumph of the will might be looked at negatively as Nazi Propaganda or positively as a piece of film art, while it was the intention of the filmmaker to create art.
  48. Three Divisions of Rhetoric (p.70)
    • 1. Rhetoric is on of three ways written and spoken words can be put to use: Rehtoric, poetic/narrative, logical.
    • 2. Rhetoric has three divisions: Legislative or Deliberative, Judicial or Historical, Ceremonial or Panegyric
    • 3. Legislative or Deliberative: encouraging or discouraging others on a course of public action
    • 4. Judicial or Historical: justifying or criticizing previous actions
    • 5. Ceremonial or Panegyric: domain of praising or blaming others. Complimentary to judicial, historical, but rules of argumentative procedure are less firmly established. Fairness and impartiality are not always honored. Includes biographical, poetic, essayistic
  49. Photogenie (p.89)
    • § Celebrated by French impressionist theory in the 1920s
    • § Phrase coined by Jean Epstein
    • § Refers to what the film image offers that supplements or differs from what it represents
    • § Photogenie and editing or montage allows the filmmakers voice to take center stage
  50. Auteur v. Genre
  51. Cinema verite/
    • § translates as "film truth".
    • § Cinéma vérité was similarly marked by the intention of capturing reality "warts and all", but became popular in France in the 1960s.
    • § combining naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and camerawork, staged set-ups, and the use of the camera to provoke subjects.
  52. kinopravda (in relation to Expository Mode)
    • § Kino-Pravda ("Film Truth") was a newsreel series by Dziga Vertov and 2 others
    • § In the "Kino-Pravda" series, Vertov focused on everyday experiences, eschewing bourgeois concerns and filming marketplaces, bars, and schools instead, sometimes with a hidden camera, without asking permission first.
    • § The term kino pravda, though it translates as "film truth", is not to be confused with the cinéma vérité movement in documentary film, which also translates as "film truth". Cinéma vérité was similarly marked by the intention of capturing reality "warts and all", but became popular in France in the 1960s.
  53. Realism
    • Photographic, Psychological, Emotional
    • Photographic: generates realism of time and place through straightforward filming and continuity editing
    • Psychological: convey inner states of characters or social actors in a plausible way. Might mean holding a shot longer than usual or using a revealing camera angle
    • Emotional: concerns creating an appropriate emotional state in the audience for example through an upbeat musical number
  54. Invention / Proofs
    • Invention refers to the discovery of evidence or proofs in support of a position or argument
    • Rhetoric and documentary film address areas of human experience where scientific proof is not available. What counts are proof is subject to social rules and conditions
    • Aristotle proposed 2 types of proofs: inartistic or non artificial and artistic or artificial
  55. Kwame Brown
    Director of girl passing riverside
Card Set
Documentary Midterm
Documentary Midterm