World War II

Select at least TWO documentaries in the unit 【I have organized them in a word document】and write an essay in response to ONE of the following topics.

1. While ‘new’ or postclassical documentary is understood to develop from around 1960 onwards, several films produced in the period after World War II in a variety of national, institutional or independent settings can be understood as important precursors of movements such as direct cinema, cinema verité, and developing conventions such as the interview and the use of direct sound. Consider TWO films from the 1960s and discuss their relation to these earlier films in the genealogy of postclassical documentary.

2. What were the documentary ideals of cinéma verité, direct cinema and free cinema? How were those ideals realised? You may focus on one national documentary context in responding the second part of this essay question.

3. One of the fictions of the observational mode of documentary filmmaking is that the presence of the camera does not alter anything in the real world. Compare and contrast at least two documentaries in terms of their response to and perspective on this fiction.

4. In a media saturated world, documentaries draw on particular forms in order to develop and privilege their truth claims. Consider how your two films do this in the context of representing the social and political impacts of collective trauma.

5. How do documentaries represent human beings as complex social actors in the world? You could focus on either the genres that emerge in the 1960s across documentary and avant-garde filmmaking, such as the portrait and the screen test, or the poetics of the interview as that is enacted across several case study films.

6. Defining re-enactments as the recreation or performance of past events tends to under-describe their effects as representations of historical events, memory, and psychic states. It also elides from our critical view the relation of re-enactment to present-day social, cultural and political conditions. Consider how the use of re-enactment in two films complicates our understanding of re-enactment and its purposes in representing reality.

7. How do various forms of collective or co-creative documentary filmmaking problematise authorship?

8. Methods of pre-production and production can profoundly shape the form, structure, meaning and affective experience of a documentary film. Consider two films in the unit in light of this proposition, whether mainstream, experimental, activist or otherwise.

9. Bearing witness describes a structure of documentary spectatorship in which viewers are solicited to listen, acknowledge and affirm an experience to which one or more people, a community perhaps, testifies. More than this, it is a mode of spectatorship interested in transforming a recognition of trauma into a collective social responsibility that might manifest as different practices, whether political activism, forms of mutual aid, or the transformation of a dominant cultural memory. Compare and contrast how at least two documentary films establish such a structure of spectatorship.

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