Introduction to Documentary

Introduction to Documentary

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This new edition of Bill Nichols's bestselling text provides an up-to-date introduction to the most important issues in documentary history and criticism. Designed for students in any field that makes use of visual evidence and persuasive strategies, Introduction to Documentary identifies the distinguishing qualities of documentary and teaches the viewer how to read documentary film. Each chapter takes up a discrete question, from "How did documentary filmmaking get started?" to "Why are ethical issues central to documentary filmmaking?" Carefully revised to take account of new work and trends, this volume includes information on more than 100 documentaries released since the first edition, an expanded treatment of the six documentary modes, new still images, and a greatly expanded list of distributors.

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  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 149.86 x 238.76 x 27.94mm | 566.99g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, INUnited States
  • English
  • 2nd edition
  • 85 b&w illustrations
  • 0253222605
  • 9780253222602
  • 60,931

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"This engaging, thoughtful, accessible, and comprehensive work will stimulate many to teach documentary film." Choice "Bill Nichols' succinct Introduction to Documentary would make an ideal textbook, and that's no back-handed compliment. Patiently, almost tenderly, the author leads the reader step by step through the thicket of moral, political, aesthetic and technological issues documentary film raises - writing in a clean style that doesn't simplify ideas so much as distil them. As hapless tutors groping for a pat definition know, documentary is an exasperatingly 'fuzzy' mode whose tactics of representation can't always be distinguished from those of fiction. Cutting to the quick of the matter, Nichols suggest that the main difference is epistemological. Where fiction suspends our disbelief regarding the imaginary world it portrays, documentary whets our intellectual curiosity about the world out there. But since distortions are possible - indeed necessary - it becomes a question of faith on the viewer's part and scruples on the film-maker's. The most original pages draw on Aristotelian first principles to propose documentary as a branch of rhetoric that sways us by fair means or foul. Decidedly the latter in the case of Leni Riefensahl's propaganda classic 'Triumph of the Will' (1936, left) - rather startlingly pegged as an observational documentary in the sense that its stage-managed events are offered without overt editorializing. Whenever feasible, however, Nichols cites works beyond the official canon, a practice that lends the book much vitality while affirming those democratic values the best documentaries continue to exemplify." Sight & Sound (August 2002)

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About Bill Nichols

Bill Nichols is Professor of Cinema at San Francisco State University and author of Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary (IUP, 1992) and Blurred Boundaries: Questions of Meaning in Contemporary Culture (IUP, 1995).

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