Re: Film Group leads (doc books)

From: 40 Frames (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Dec 31 2006 - 12:32:05 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.

That should have read "Visible Evidence Series".

> - 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.

Could you throw out some names and titles of some of the work discussed,
or perhaps reference a book by Waugh? I am assuming they are NFB films, or
was he referring to more radical strands of production taking place
outside of the NFB?

> 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.

I agree that ALLEGORIES does a great service in highlighting some
important work, however I have to say the book is a bit hard to slog

I do support his focus on Kramer in that book, a filmmaker who is hardly
given any mention in the states and was not mentioned once in my formal
film education. In fact, when Kramer died his work was given attention at
several screenings in New York, and later at the PFA, however in other
parts of the country (for instance, liberal Portland, Oregon where I
reside) he was given no recognition whatsoever.

Another example of this is the work of William Greaves, both his own
personal work and his work with Black Journal. A good number of filmmakers
came out of Black Journal, but you'd never no it by most written accounts
of documentary film history or the classes teaching the subject. I've
attended three doc classes taught at three different institutions, and not
one ever mentioned Greaves, nor Black Journal.

BTW, thanks for the references Jonathan.


Alain LeTourneau
Pamela Minty
425 SE 3rd, #400
Portland, OR 97214
United States

+1 503 231 6548
Skype ID: frames40
email suppressed

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.