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Blurring the Boundaries between Fiction and Nonfiction Film

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Alain Chouinard

on 28 February 2013

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Transcript of Blurring the Boundaries between Fiction and Nonfiction Film

Blurring the Boundaries between Fiction and Nonfiction Film Bazin and the Myth of Total Cinema 1. Cinema "objectively" captures the true duration of events in motion, rescuing them from corruption

2. This referential and automatic dimension of the cinematic camera allows it to be less dependent on the subjective intervention of an artist Nanook of the North
(Flaherty, 1922) Bazin and the Long Take Renov on Documentary Aesthetics Staging of the Mise-en-Scene in Nanook of the North (1922) -Bazin, André.”Ontology of the photographic Image.” What is Cinema? Volume 1. Translated by Hugh Gray. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. 13-15. 1. The expressive quality of film "has consistently been undervalued within the nonfiction domain" (Renov 32)

2. The "documentary has availed itself of nearly every constructive device known to fiction [...] and has employed virtually every register of cinematic syntax in the process.” (Renov 6) -Renov, Michael. “Introduction: The Truth About Non- Fiction” + “Towards a Poetics of Documentary.” Theorizing Documentary. Edited by Michael Renov. New York: Routledge, 1993. 1-11; 12-36. Bill Nichols on Documentary Film 2. Documentaries offer "a specific form of representation with a specific perspective" (75) 3. Documentaries differentiate themselves from neutral footage due to the presence of a perspective - "an informing logic and overall organization to the film" (75) 1. Documentary "not a reproduction of reality, it is representation of the world we already occupy" (13) -Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. Nichols: Documentary Voice Documentary Voice:

1. "derives from the director’s attempt to translate his or her perspective on the actual historical world into audio-visual terms.” (69)

2. It addresses spectators as “socially situated viewers and speaks about our common world.” (69) -Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. Documentary Voice Plantinga: The "Voices" of Documentary Emile de Antonio's Point of Order (1964) Direct Address: direct commentary to the audience or camera (voice-over commentary, interviews, titles/intertitles, etc.) Indirect Address [voice of perspective]: “speaks through the filmmaker’s specific decisions about the selection and arrangement of sounds and images” and “advances an argument [...] about the world by implication.” (75) -Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. 1. Formal Voice

2. Open Voice

3. Poetic Voice -Plantinga, Carl. Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 107-109. “the creative treatment of actuality”
- John Grierson defining documentary Six Modes of Documentary Filmmaking Poetic
Expository
Reflexive
Performative
Observational
Participatory Poetic Mode Questions: David Holzman's Diary (1967) 1. What is the film's stance on the relationship of cinema or, more specifically, observational documentary filmmaking to truth?

2. What formal techniques conventionally associated with documentary forms does the film adopt to mask its fictional construction and present itself as a more authentic representation of Holzman?

3. Conversely, what formal techniques or traits does the film possess that undermines or problematizes this seemingly authentic portrait of an individual (David Holzman)? -Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. 31-32; 211. - “emphasizes visual associations, tonal or rhythmic qualities, descriptive passages, and formal organization” (Nichols 31) Koyaanisqatsi (top) + Sans Soleil (bottom) Expository Mode -“emphasizes verbal commentary and an argumentative logic” (31) 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.” (31-32) Performative Mode -“emphasizes the subjective or expressive aspect of the filmmaker’s own involvement with a subject; it strives to heighten the audience’s responsiveness to this involvement. Rejects notions of objectivity in favor of evocation and affect. The 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.” (Nichols 32) Observational Mode -“emphasizes a direct engagement with the everyday life of subjects as observed by an unobtrusive camera.” (31) Participatory Mode -“emphasizes the interaction between filmmaker and subject. Filming takes place by means of interviews or other forms of even more direct involvement from conversations to provocations.” (31) Man with a Movie Camera (top) + Reassemblage (bottom) Waltz with Bashir (top) + Tarnation (bottom) Les Raquetteurs (top) + High School (bottom) Chronicle of a Summer
(Jean Rouch, 1961) Blurring of Boundaries: Fiction and Non-Fiction F for Fake (1972) + Zelig (1983) + A Man Vanishes (1967) Mockumentaries + Found-Footage Horror Films This is Spinal Tap + Blair Witch Project + REC
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