Art, Architecture and Visual Culture

This chapter distinguishes texts which develop a reflexivity toward factual discourse in different ways. Some degree 2 mock-documentaries feature muted critiques of media practices, others offer a sustained political critique of aspects of culture using the mock-documentary form and a third category comprises texts which generate reflexive interpretations because of their success as hoaxes. Bad News Tour is an offering from the British television Channel 4's Comic Strip series, and is a text which falls within the same mock-rockumentary 'tradition' as This Is Spinal Tap. In contrast to Spinal Tap, however, Bad News Tour offers a more complex commentary on the nature of popular music and the role played by the media in the creation of rock mythology. ER series is one of the more openly reflexive examples of a degree 2 mock-documentary, with the ambivalence towards factual discourse which characterises this Degree represented at a variety of levels.

in Faking it

The mock-documentary form seems to be more typically used by filmmakers to parody aspects of popular culture, particularly media culture, than to encourage viewers to question their adherence to the assumptions and expectations associated with documentary. This chapter discusses examples of degree 3 texts that suggest both the potential of the mock-documentary form to serve as a site for the active subversion of factual discourse and the degree to which this potential has remained relatively underdeveloped. David Holzman's Diary is presented as a cinéma vérité document, and filmed in black and white, it presents the story of an attempt of a young filmmaker, David Holzman, to put his life in order by making a diary using a camera and a tape recorder. Hogue argued that David Holzman's Diary offers a deconstruction of a filmmaker's faith in the purity of any relationship which photographic images may claim with 'reality'.

in Faking it

Emilio Fernandez's golden age lasted for seven years, 1943-50. This chapter begins by looking at Fernández' role within the system, mapping how, in the critical analysis of his work, the construction of Fernández as auteur and 'indio' intersects with the processes of institutionalization involved in 'nation' and 'national culture.' It questions auteurist readings of Fernández which, by seeking to construct him as a flesh-and-blood individual who gives meaning and coherence to a unified oeuvre, fall into the trap of the 'cult of personality.' The chapter also looks at how the institutionalization is evident in the 1980s accounts of him written coincidentally at the same time as the biggest upsurge in the production of Mexican culture studies. It examines what is at stake when the proponents of Mexican national cinema promote Fernandez as auteur, particularly given the neo-colonialist implications of the use of the auteurist paradigm in Mexico.

in Emilio Fernández
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Pictures in the margins

From 1943 until 1950, Emilio Fernández was regarded as one of the foremost purveyors of 'Mexicanness,' as one of the most important filmmakers of the Mexican film industry. This book explores the contradictions of post-Revolutionary representation as manifested in Fernández' canonical 1940s films: María Candelaria, Víctimas del pecado, Las abandonadas, La perla, Enamorada, Río Escondido, Maclovia and Salón Mexico. It examines transnational influences that shaped Fernández' work. The book acknowledges how the events of the Mexican revolution impacted on the country's film industry and the ideological development of nationalism. It takes note of current tendencies in film studies and postcolonial theory to look for the excesses, instabilities and incoherencies in texts, which challenge such totalizing projects of hegemony or cultural reification as 'cultural nationalism' or ' mexicanidad.' The book looks at how classical Mexican cinema has been studied, surveying the US studies of classical Mexican cinema which diverge from Mexican analyses by making space for the 'other' through genre and textual analyses. Fernández's Golden Age lasted for seven years, 1943-1950. The book also examines how the concept of hybridity mediates the post-Revolutionary discourse of indigenismo (indigenism) in its cinematic form. It looks specifically at how malinchismo, which is also figured as a 'positive, valorisation of whiteness,' threatens the 'purity' of an essential Mexican in María Candelaria, Emilio Fernández's most famous indigenist film. Emilio Fernandez's Enamorada deals with the Revolution's renegotiation of gender identity.

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Mexican cinema and Emilio Fernández post the Golden Age – from golden boy to ‘the man in black’

This chapter presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the book. After Río Escondido and Víctimas del pecado, Emilio Fernández goes from being the Mexican and Latin American cinema director of the 1940s, to nobody. Accounts of his career post the Golden Age paint him as a 'tragic' figure, making poorly received films and acting (in black charro costume) in others' films in order to survive when he could not find work as a director. The chapter discusses the Mexican film industry and Fernández's film career in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Fernández's decline and stagnation are blamed on the repetition and anachronism of the same images of nationalism that brought him great success during his most prestigious years. The book hopes to generate new analyses of other Fernandez's films that are critically neglected because they lie beyond the canon of cultural nationalism.

in Emilio Fernández

Mock-documentary is a 'fact-fictional' form which has a close relationship to both drama and documentary. It not only uses documentary codes and conventions but constructs a particular relationship with the discourse of factuality. This chapter outlines some of the key issues for analysis and discussion of the relationship which mock-documentary texts build with documentary and factuality discourses. It is not a comprehensive survey of the documentary theory literature but an overview of the key arguments with a view to showing how documentary positions itself as the screen form most able to portray the social world in an accurate and truthful way. The chapter explains that cultural status of the documentary form is effectively challenged by the development of the mock-documentary, which is itself symptomatic of the wider challenges to documentary. There are a number of cultural assumptions, and underlying discourses, which serve to reinforce documentary's privileged position.

in Faking it
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Mock-documentary and the subversion of factuality

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.

As part of Mexico's ongoing Revolution, 'the ideological vision of society and culture offered/accepted by the State,' the cultural reelaboration of Mexicanness also involved a cultural redefinition of gender. This chapter discusses Emilio Fernandez's Enamorada deals with the Revolution's renegotiation of gender identity. It argues that Fernandez's and the Revolution's explicit gender discourses of 'lo macho' and female submission are often undermined by the melodramatic mise-en-scène and borrowings from the Hollywood screwball comedy. The chapter attempts to read against a blurring between the accepted model of Revolutionary masculinity and a hypermasculine filmmaker if either actually exists. It explores the eliding of Fernández's high voice in biographical auteurist accounts suggests a repression of 'other,' less 'virile' readings of his work. The chapter shows there is room for other readings of Enamorada than Mexican cultural nationalism and the basic Fernández mythology allow for - i.e., in this case a feminist reading.

in Emilio Fernández

This chapter questions the reproduction of motifs of cultural nationalism in relation to the production of the hembra (female), an exaggeratedly submissive and abnegated female identity, and femininity in conventional readings of Salón México, Las abandonadas and Víctimas del pecado. It looks at how melodrama offers a space for subversive pleasure within an otherwise restrictive moral context that challenges gender ideology as it relates to racial identity. The chapter seeks to destabilize the rigid melodramatic, social, racial and gender paradigms upon which readings of the three films are based. It attempts to show how the unacceptable 'other' (the liberated sexuality of the lone female dancer) is not necessarily the opposite but in fact an integral part of the image of the nation. The three films are less morally dichotomous in their representation of Mexican women and the struggle for modernity in the 1940s than much of conventional scholarship allows for.

in Emilio Fernández
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Mock-documentary and the subversion of factuality

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book defines 'factual discourse' - the set of assumptions and expectations which form the basis of the documentary genre. It outlines the nature of the more recent expansion of textual concerns and representational strategies employed by documentary filmmakers. The book compares the contrasting screen forms, and focuses on the nature of the distinctive relationships which filmmakers construct towards the documentary genre. It identifies the characteristics of mock-documentary as a screen form, and shows the strategy used for distinguishing between the variety of texts which can be defined as mock-documentary. The book also outlines a speculative genealogy for the mock-documentary as a distinctive screen form, suggesting various textual precedents within American and British cinematic and television traditions which have made this form acceptable for both filmmakers and audiences.

in Faking it