Documentary: Witness and Self-revelation

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Argues that everyday experiences of what it feels like to film and be filmed have developed a new sophistication and scepticism in today's viewers. As a result, documentary has developed a new third phase of his long history after a first phase in which reconstruction dominated, and the second in which observation becasme the norm. The specific interpersonal interactions and technological affordances of each phase are examined, and the current dominance of rapid editing is discussed, advancing the notion of 'slow film' as a characteristic of current radical approaches to the genre. The processes of interviewing are examined closely, using an approach derived from Goffman. The basis of current scepticism is then examined, looking at the cultural ambivalences towards photography. A specific case study demonstrates that current scepticism emphasises the ethics of filmmaking. Case studies of works range from Xu Zhen's exhibition 'The Starving of Sudan' to David Frost's interview with Richard Nixon and the TV documentary 'The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off'
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages171
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-57419-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • documentary; television; cinema; interview; filmer; history of film; technology; video;

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