There are any number of fiction and non-fiction texts which challenge, articulate or reinterpret many of the central tensions within the documentary form. Of the non-fiction texts, the most significant have perhaps been reflexive documentaries. This book is primarily intended to introduce ideas about mock-documentary to students and academics working within media and documentary studies. It examines those fictional texts which to varying degrees 'look' (and sound) like documentaries. This group of texts have been labelled using a variety of terms; 'faux documentary', 'pseudo-documentary', 'mocumentary', 'cinéma vérité with a wink', 'cinéma un-vérité', 'black comedy presented as in-your-face documentary', 'spoof documentary' and 'quasi-documentary'. The book includes some discussion of the tensions within the genre, in particular where different codes and conventions appeal to competing, often contradictory, cultural understandings of how 'reality' can be represented. It looks to outline the nature of the more recent expansion of textual concerns and representational strategies employed by documentary filmmakers. Mock-documentary represents only one instance of a continuum of fictional texts which are characterised by a blurring of the line between fact and fiction. The book compares these contrasting screen forms, concentrating especially on the nature of the distinctive relationships which they each construct towards the documentary genre. It introduces a schema of three 'degrees' of mock-documentary, in part reflecting the diversity in the nature and extent of these texts' appropriation of documentary aesthetics. A speculative genealogy for the mock-documentary as a distinctive screen form is outlined.
in a close proximity to mock-documentary, but we do not see them as constituting examples of the form itself (in large part because they have emerged from a completely different filmmaking agenda). Winston notes the problems which commentators have had in distinguishing between techniques which documentary filmmakers have employed since the early development of the form, and explicit violations of the documentary project. To
a figure in Ireland known for map-making, nature writing and documenting parts of western Ireland with incisive detail. Collins, who is considered one of the most articulate contemporary documentary film-makers in Ireland (with over two dozen film credits to his name), depicts Robinson as a mediator between landscape and culture through his own mapping enterprise. The film focuses on the landscape of Connemara, which is a region in Co. Galway in the west of Ireland with topographies of granite mountains, an abundance of bogland and thousands of pools of water (see
in the British cinema’.3 Ian Dalrymple, the producer of a number of Jennings’ films, said that Jennings ‘had the artist’s gift for setting up his camera at what might be called the angle juste’.4 The documentary filmmaker Basil Wright, who was sometimes critical of elements in Jennings’ films, summarised his overall impression of Jennings’ filmmaking skills when he called him a ‘genius’.5 Jennings’ friend, the poet Kathleen Raine, described him as ‘one of the most remarkable imaginative intelligences of his generation’.6 The generation in question was roughly
directly, through visual images and sounds. For filmmakers, creating objective correlatives is not a matter of verbal constructions but of exploring the experiential world in material terms. Fiction filmmakers discovered this before documentary filmmakers. In Jean Vigo’s Zero for Conduct (1933) there is a well known scene of lyrical disorder. In a school dormitory, a pillow fight escalates until the pillows break open and feathers fill the room. The idea was not new – two early Lumière films portray similar scenes. But in Vigo’s film the feathers embody the sudden
the dialogue and collaborate on the direction as well’ (Overbey 1978 : 88). Serreau’s reputation as a serious feminist documentary filmmaker was reinforced in 1979 by her contribution to a series produced by the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) and devoted to grandmothers. The aim of the programme was to give a voice to an often ignored generation, that of women in their sixties or seventies, who were invited to share their memories in front of the camera. Coline Serreau was not the only woman filmmaker to
This chapter examines the experience common to many documentary filmmakers of being both outside and inside their subjects. Relationships between filmmakers and subjects vary greatly but they are often close and sometimes all-consuming. In making portrait films, filmmakers frequently feel a strong desire for their work to embody the subject in some total sense, beyond the simple representation of appearance and personality. At the same time they may experience a sense of inadequacy in trying to express the immensity of another person’s life. In this chapter the author uses one of his own experiences of making a portrait film to examine the larger processes and imponderables involved in the attempt.
Humphrey Jennings has been described as the only real poet of British cinema. His documentary films employ a range of representational approaches – including collagist narrative structures and dramatic re-enactment – in ways that transcend accepted notions of wartime propaganda and revise the strict codes of British documentary film of the 1930s and 1940s. The resultant body of work is a remarkable record of Britain at peace and war. This study examines a productive ambiguity of meanings associated with the subtle interaction of images and sounds within Jennings' films, and considers the ideological and institutional contexts and forces that impacted on the formal structure of his films. Central and lesser-known films are analysed, including Spare Time, Words for Battle, Listen to Britain, Fires Were Started, The Silent Village, A Diary for Timothy and Family Portrait. Poet, propagandist, surrealist and documentary filmmaker – Jennings' work embodies a mix of apprehension, personal expression and representational innovation. This book examines and explains the central components of Jennings' most significant films, and considers the relevance of his filmmaking to British cinema and contemporary experience.
In the early 1950s, a small group of British technicians and documentary filmmakers produced a series of short stereoscopic 3D films that represented aspects of the British rural and urban landscapes to national and international audiences. These films offered three dimensional views of Manchester’s oil refineries and ship canal, open cast mining in the heart of the English countryside, the development of London airport, and images of the Queen’s coronation journeys to Edinburgh, the Derby and down the Thames. As the first attempts by British filmmakers to represent their native landscapes in three dimensions, these films hoped to draw contemporary audiences in through expansive and immersive views of the sites and landscapes being filmed. This chapter looks specifically at the stereoscopic representation of the rural found in Royal River (1951), Northern Towers (1952), Sunshine Miners (1952), and Vintage ’28 (1953). Through close analysis of the landscapes generated through the stereoscopic effect and the critical reception of these short 3D films, it investigates how these British pioneers redefined the traditional landscape of the social realist documentary through the visual spectacle of three dimensional imagery and composition.
intended to suggest the full extent of interpretations which any audience may make of mock-documentaries. Our analysis is indicative of the variety of relationships which the appropriation of documentary aesthetics entails, and particularly those strategies of appropriation pursued by mock-documentary filmmakers. In other words, we are dealing, both here and in the following chapters, with the writers’ assessment of the preferred reading