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Palgrave Macmillan

The Documentary Film Book

ISBN 9781844573424
Publication Date October 2013
Formats Hardcover Paperback 
Publisher British Film Institute

Powerfully posing questions of ethics, ideology, authorship and form, documentary film has never been more popular than it is today. Edited by one of the leading British authorities in the field, The Documentary Film Book is an essential guide to current thinking on documentary film.

In a series of fascinating essays, key international experts discuss the theory of documentary, outline current understandings of its history (from pre-Flaherty to the post-Griersonian world of digital 'i-Docs'), survey documentary production (from Africa to Europe, and from the Americas to Asia), consider documentaries by marginalised minority communities, and assess its contribution to other disciplines and arts. Brought together here in one volume, these scholars offer compelling evidence as to why, over the last few decades, documentary has come to the centre of screen studies.

  • Short-listed for the Kraszna Krausz Book Awards 2014

Brian Winston is Lincoln Chair of Communications at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has an Emmy for documentary script-writing, has taught documentary in both the US and the UK, and has been involved with many international documentary film festivals and the Visible Evidence conference series. He is the author of Media, Technology and Society: A History, from the Telegraph to the Internet, Fires Were Started, Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries, and Messages: Free Expression, Media and the West, from Gutenberg to Google.

Notes on Contributors
Foreword: Why Documentaries Matter 
Introduction: The Filmed Documentary
1. The Question of Evidence, the Power of Rhetoric and Documentary Film; Bill Nichols
2. 'I'll Believe It When I Trust the Source': Documentary Images and Visual Evidence; Carl Plantinga
3. 'The Performance Documentary': The Performing Film-Maker, the Acting Subject; Stella Bruzzi
4. On Truth, Objectivity and Partisanship: The Case of Michael Moore; Douglas Kellner
5. CGI and the End of Photography as Evidence; Taylor Downing
6. Drawn From Life: The Animated Documentary; Andy Glynne
7. Dramadoc? Docudrama? The Limits and Protocols of a Televisual Form; Derek Paget
8. Ambiguous Audiences; Annette Hill
9. Life As Narrativised; Brian Winston
10. The Dance of Documentary Ethics; Pratap Rughani
11. Deaths, Transfigurations and the Future; John Corner
12. Problems in Historiography: The Documentary Tradition Before Nanook of the North; Charles Musser
13. John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement; Ian Aitken 
14. Challenges For Change: Canada's National Film Board; Thomas Waugh and Ezra Winton
15. Grierson's Legacies: Australia and New Zealand; Deane Williams
16. New Deal Documentary and the North Atlantic Welfare State; Zoe Druick and Jonathan Kahana
17. The Triumph of Observationalism: Direct Cinema in the USA; Dave Saunders
18. Russian and Soviet Documentary: From Vertov to Sokurov; Ian Christie
19. The Radical Tradition in Documentary Film-making, 1920s–50s; Bert Hogenkamp 
20. Le Groupe des trente: The Poetic Tradition; Elena Von Kassel Siambani
21. Cinéma Vérité: Vertov Revisited; Genevieve Van Cauwenberge 
22. Beyond Sobriety: Documentary Diversions; Craig Hight
23. Eastwards; Abe Mark Nornes
24. Africa N.; Frank Ukadike
25. Images From the South: Contemporary Documentary in Argentina and Brazil; Ana Amado and Maria Dora Mourao
26. 'Roadblock' Films, 'Children's Resistance' Films and 'Blood Relations' Films: Israeli and Palestinian Documentary Post-Intifada; Il Raya Morag
27. Sacred, Mundane and Absurd Revelations of the Everyday – Poetic Vérité in the Eastern European Tradition; Susanna Helke
28. First-Person Political; Alisa Lebow
29. Feminist Documentaries: Finding, Seeing and Using Them; Julia Lesage
30. Pioneers of Black Documentary Film; Pearl Bowser
31. LGTBs' Documentary Identity; Christopher Pullen
32. Docusoaps: The Ordinary Voice as Popular Entertainment; Richard Kilborn
33. Reality TV: A Sign of the Times?; Anita Biressi and Heather Nunn
34. Anthropology: The Evolution of Ethnographic Film; Paul Henley
35. Science, Society and Documentary; Tim Boon
36. History Documentaries for Television; Ann Gray
37. Music, Documentary, Music Documentary; Michael Chanan
38. Art, Documentary as Art; Michael Renov
39. Documentary as Open Space; Helen de Michiel and Patricia R. Zimmermann
40. 'This Great Mapping of Ourselves': New Documentary Forms Online; John Dovey and Mandy Rose
41. New Platforms for 'Docmedia': 'Varient of a Manifesto'; Peter Wintonick
Afterword: The Unchanging Question; Brian Winston


"This accessible, well-executed, jargon-free collection provides readers with a concise overview of documentary film." - Choice
"Edited by Brian Winston, not only a leading scholar on documentary film but also experienced as a journalist and script writer for documentaries, this book becomes nearly as rich, dynamic and diverse as its topic of study... It is clear that documentary film is ready for the future, and this book highlights past, present and future. It is strongly recommended to teachers, scholars and interested viewers alike." - Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
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