nor telling me what to think about them. It was made from the
viewpoint of someone who had actually been there.
Today I consider observational filmmaking to be a
unique documentary film practice. It produces films that differ from
most of the other documentary films that we see. It differs also in
more subtle ways from similar approaches like Direct Cinema and
cinéma-vérité , for it does one thing
the others do not do. Instead of focusing exclusively on its
subject, it puts the process of finding out
This handbook is intended for those wanting to use documentary filmmaking as a research method to explore subjects and also as a way of expressing ideas. Its focus is practical rather than technical, aiming to complement the many handbooks that already exist covering filmmaking, digital videography, sound recording and video editing. It concentrates on aspects of filmmaking for research purposes at an introductory level that are not so well documented elsewhere, such as the practical stages involved in the production of an ethnographic film. The underlying principal of this handbook is to broaden the application of ethnographic filmmaking to suit a wide range of research areas and documentary expression, encompassing sensory, fictive, observational, participatory, reflexive, performative and immersive modes of storytelling. I have chosen to avoid detailed discussion of technology as this dates quickly. This handbook aims to assist individuals in their personalised searches using online facilities to develop research methods and also teaching, by decoding technical terminology and explaining filmmaking workflows.
willing and able to engage in such debates. Such
polemics linked publications and possibly boosted sales too. Watson’s
remarks aptly described much amateur activity, but it would be unfair to
overlook those films that did explore contemporary society.
Watson’s wake-up call for more socially engaged
filmmaking was not new. 2
Since the mid-1920s, some filmmakers had tackled topical concerns in factual
The first years of the new millennium provide an opportunity for
assessing how beur filmmaking has developed since the flourishing of the
banlieue film in 1995 and the surprise success of Djamel Bensalah’s
Le Ciel , les oiseaux … et ta mère in 1999. Since
2000, there has been an increase in the number of beur filmmakers –
Kamel Saleh, Karim Abbou (born in 1968 in Puteaux), Kader Ayd (born in 1976 in
Nanterre), Rabah Ameur
and film-making in Pat Collins’s
Tim Robinson: Connemara
A map is a sustained attempt upon an unattainable goal, the complete comprehension
by an individual of a tract of space that will be individualized into a place by that
– Tim Robinson
In sum a film is a map, and … its symbolic and political effectiveness is a function of
its identity as a cartographic diagram.2
– Tom Conley
Documenting through map-making and film-making
In the documentary film Tim Robinson: Connemara (2011), director Pat Collins
Filmmaker Karen Thorsen gave us James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, the award-winning documentary that is now considered a classic. First broadcast on PBS/American Masters in August, 1989—just days after what would have been Baldwin’s sixty-fifth birthday—the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. It was not the film Thorsen intended to make. Beginning in 1986, Baldwin and Thorsen had been collaborating on a very different film project: a “nonfiction feature” about the history, research, and writing of Baldwin’s next book, “Remember This House.” It was also going to be a film about progress: about how far we had come, how far we still have to go, before we learn to trust our common humanity. But that project ended abruptly. On 1 December 1987, James Baldwin died—and “Remember This House,” book and film died with him. Suddenly, Thorsen’s mission changed: the world needed to know what they had lost. Her alliance with Baldwin took on new meaning. The following memoir—the second of two serialized parts—explores how and why their collaboration began. The first installment appeared in the sixth volume of James Baldwin Review, in the fall of 2020; the next stage of their journey starts here.
Fetish Filmmaking and the Revision of Masculinity in Scorpio Rising and Drive
This article examines how the ironic construction of queer masculinity from biker culture, a realm of consumer fetishism and hetero-masculinity, in Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964), influences Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film Drive. As Anger’s film appropriates pop-culture images and icons of biker culture, fetishes of post-Second World War American masculinity, Refn uses overt references to Anger’s film to wage a similar reappropriation of muscle car culture, in the process challenging contemporary images of heterosexual masculinity in Drive. Like Anger, Refn relies upon the dynamics of fetishism and postmodernism’s illumination of the distance between sign and object to subvert muscle cars’ associations with masculine violence and rivalry, mobilising them instead to exploit the inherent multivocality of the fetishised object, seizing the car (and its mobility) as a getaway vehicle to escape prescriptions of identity and limiting definitions of gender and sexuality.
The Position of Women in Post-War Japanese Cinema (Kinema Junpō,
In contrast to the canonical history of cinema and film theory, often dominated by
academic texts and Western and/or male voices, this article presents a casual
conversation held in 1961 between four of the most influential women in the post-war
Japanese film industry: Kawakita Kashiko,,Yamamoto Kyōko, Tanaka Kinuyo and Takamine
Hideko. As they openly discuss their gendered experience in production, promotion,
distribution and criticism, their thoughts shed light on the wide range of
opportunities available to women in filmmaking, but also on the professional
constraints,and concerns which they felt came along with their gender. Their
conversation reveals how they measured themselves and their national industry in
relation to the West; at times unaware of their pioneer role in world cinema. This
piece of self-reflexive criticism contributes to existing research on both womens
filmmaking and the industry of Japanese cinema, and invites us to reconsider
non-hegemonic film thinking practices and voices.
This paper is organised around an analysis of a short sequence from Godard‘s Pierrot
le fou (1965). Although the sequence appears to be a series of repetitions, close
analysis reveals it to be a single event presented in a carefully fragmented order.
This unexpected fact generates questions about how to account for the relation
between our initial beliefs about the organisation of the sequence and our knowledge
of its actual structure. We come to see, in an intimate way, that reflection on the
way we watch and understand film is one of the central themes of Godard‘s
The recent uses of digital technology in war films have sparked a wave of
discussions about new visual aesthetics in the genre. Drawing on the approach of
film discourse analysis, this article critically examines recent claims about
new visual grammar in the war film and investigates to what extent the insertion
of different media channels has affected the persuasive function of the genre.
Through a detailed analysis of Redacted (2007), which
constitutes an extreme case of a fiction filmmaking use of a variety of digital
channels, this article demonstrates that the multimedia format works within
systems of classical film discourse while also generating new patterns of
persuasion tied to new visual technology.