Re: Film Group leads (doc books)

From: Jonathan Kahana (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Dec 30 2006 - 21:20:37 PST


While I agree that there are some significant names and books in this list

> There is Bill Nichols writing on the subject, Renov's The Subject of
Documentary and Theorizing Documentary, as well as other books in the
Visual Evidence Series (U of Minnesota Press).... Cine-Ethnography
(Rouch), Zimmerman's States of Emergency, the book on de Antonio, An
American Family, Japanese Documentary Film. Some ethnographic film books
getting onto the work of Gardner, Marshall, Asch, et al.

- I might use different sources to think about the problem of nonfiction
film historiography.

If the question is how criticism can attend to the gaps in film history,
one consistently reliable model for me is the work of Thomas Waugh, who
has been writing exemplary histories of radical and alternative nonfiction
for decades. I heard Waugh give a talk on this very problem at the Film
and History conference on documentary in November, focusing on New Left
filmmaking in Canada in the 1960s and 70s, a topic about which little is
known today, even in Canada - in part, because the films just don't
circulate anymore.

And on the 1960s and 70s, one could also refer to David James's account of
American nonfiction (experimental and documentary) in the 1960s,
ALLEGORIES OF CINEMA; in fact, the book begins with a kind of dedication
to the missing works of film history, and in opposition to the
institutional neglect of these films, which he pins on criticism as much
as any other facet of film culture. From this perspective, the anthology
DOCUMENTING THE DOCUMENTARY - full of good close-readings of canonical
films, and great for use in undergrad classes - is a symptom of the larger
problem James names, since it covers only the most well-known works, i.e.,
those that are generally available on video.

Jonathan

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