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Praise for New Documentary:
'It's refreshing to find a book that cuts through the tired old debates that have surrounded documentary film and television. It heralds a welcome new approach.'
Sight and Sound
'Documentary practice changes so fast that books on the subject are often out of date before they are published. Bruzzi's achievement is to have understood the genre as an activity based on performance rather than observation. This is a fresh perspective which illuminates the fundamental shifts that will continue to take place in the genre as it enters its second century.'
John Ellis, Professor of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London
New Documentary provides a contemporary look at documentary and fresh and challenging ways of theorising the non-fiction film. As engaging as the original, this second edition features thorough updates to the existing chapters, as well as a brand new chapter on contemporary cinema release documentaries.
This new edition includes:
- Contemporary films such as Capturing the Friedmans, Être et avoir, Farenheit 9/11, The Fog of War and Touching the Void as well as more canonical texts such as Hoop Dreams and Shoah
Additional interviews with influential practitioners, such as director Michael Apted and producer Stephen Lambert
- A comprehensively revised discussion of modern observational documentary, including docusoaps, reality television and formatted documentaries
- The work of documentary filmmakers such as Nicholas Barker, Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield, Molly Dineen and Michael Moore and the work of Avant-Garde filmmakers such as Chris Marker and Patrick Keiller
- Gender identity, queer theory, performance, race and spectatorship.
Bruzzi shows how theories of documentary filmmaking can be applied to contemporary texts and genres, and discusses the relationship between recent, innovative examples of the genre and the more established canon of documentary.
acknowledge the inherent instability of representing reality. 6 The performative documentary This chapter will discuss the performative documentary, a mode which emphasises – and indeed constructs a film around – the often hidden aspect of performance, whether on the part of the documentary subjects or the filmmakers. When one discusses performance and the real event, this fusion has more usually been applied to documentary drama, where a masquerade of spontaneity can be seen to function at
is not simply that of observing the representation of an actual event. The Zapruder film has significance beyond the sum of its parts; despite its subject matter, it begins to function like a melodrama, to comfort the viewer almost with its known-ness, its familiarity. Knowing the end ironically frees us to speculate upon alternatives (‘what if ?’, ‘if only’), to reconstruct the sequence just as we see it relentlessly repeating the very events we are trying to suppress. This is particularly the
discrepancy between the brutality of war and the safety of its remembering, the one necessarily impinging on the other, so the mummification of experience witnessed in the army museum itself becomes an act of violence. Like the iconic wheelchair, the bland voice-over and the smiling, oblivious couple whose guided tour we are ostensibly following, trundle blithely on, so the swelling anger is ours and not the text’s. Hôtel des invalides reaches no conclusion as such, although it suggests plenty.
Huston’s war documentaries, for instance, or the ‘collage junk’ films of Emile de Antonio – it just has not been talked about much within the parameters of documentary theory, a body of work that has assumed and prioritised (although not exclusively) the documentarist’s putative desire to attain the ‘grail’ of perfect authenticity. Another influence as I conceived of this book was the writing on documentary of Noël Carroll, who argues combatively and wittily with how film studies has theorised
such as Sherman’s March reflexive: they offer a discursive analysis of the nature of documentary filmmaking itself via the mechanism of the encounter. The film’s reflexivity is manifested first and foremost in its intertwining of several journeys: the actual journeys of Sherman’s march and McElwee’s pursuit of eligible Southern women as well as the emotional and intellectual journeys which centre on what making the film comes to mean to and reveal about Ross McElwee (his adoption of the camera as