Essays on the Intersection of Documentary and Fictional Filmmaking


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About the Book

Through most of the 20th century, the distinction between the fictional narrative film and the documentary was vigorously maintained. The documentary tradition developed side by side with, but in the shadow of, the more commercially successful feature film. In the latter part of the century, however, the two forms merged on occasion, and mockumentaries (fictional works in a documentary format) and docudramas (reality-based works in a fictional format) became part of the film and television landscape.
The 18 essays here examine the relationships between narrative fiction films and documentary filmmaking, focusing on how each influenced the other and how the two were merged in such diverse films and shows as Citizen Kane, M*A*S*H, This Is Spinal Tap, and Destination Moon. Topics include the docudrama in early cinema, the industrial film as faux documentary, the fear evoked in 1950s science fiction films, the selling of “reality” in mockumentaries, and reality television and documentary forms. The essays provide a foundation for significant rethinking of film history and criticism, offering the first significant discussion of two emerging and increasingly important genres.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Gary D. Rhodes, a documentary filmmaker, is a professor at the Queen’s University, Belfast.
John Parris Springer is a professor of English and film studies at the University of Central Oklahoma. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Gary D. Rhodes and John Parris Springer
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2184-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1049-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Introduction      1

1. Docudrama and Mock-Documentary: Defining Terms, Proposing Canons

Steven N. Lipkin, Derek Paget and Jane Roscoe      11

2. The Newspaper Meets the Dime Novel: Docudrama in Early Cinema

John Parris Springer      27

3. On the Edges of Fiction: Silent Actualités, City Symphonies and Early SF Movies

Mark Bould      43

4. This Reality Which Is Not One: Flaherty, Buñuel and the Irrealism of Documentary Cinema

Jared F. Green      64

5. Reconstructing Reality: The Industrial Film as Faux Documentary

Donald Levin      88

6. “Documenting” Communist Subversion: The Case of I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. (1951)

Reynold Humphries      102

7. Teaching Fear in 1950s Science Fiction Films

Michael Lee      124

8. Mondo Barnum

Doug Bentin      144

9. In Search of Questions, or, A New Age Film Odyssey

Gary D. Rhodes      154

10. Artifice and Artificiality in Mockumentaries

Gerd Bayer      164

11. “It Ain’t the Movies! It’s Real Life!” Cinematic Alchemy in Woody Allen’s “Woody Allen” D(M)oc(k)umentary Oeuvre

Robert Sickels      179

12. “That’s Really the Title?” Deconstructing Deconstruction in The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) and Real Life (1978)

Harvey O’Brien      191

13. Man Bites Dog: Deconstructing the Documentary Look

Jane Roscoe      205

14. Stanley Kwan’s Centre Stage (1992): Postmodern Reflections of the Mirror Within the Mirror

Wayne Stein      216

15. Fool’s Gold: New Zealand’s Forgotten Silver, Myth and National Identity

Ian Conrich and Roy Smith      230

16. Before Big Brother, There Was Blair Witch: The Selling of “Reality”

Fincina Hopgood      237

17. Chasing the Real: Reality Television and Documentary Forms

Leigh H. Edwards      253

18. The Future of Documentary? “Conditional Tense” Documentary and the Historical Record

Paul Ward      270

About the Contributors      285

Index      289

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