The words “Documentary” and “Democracy” differ only by three letters. John Grierson’s ideal for documentary was to have a “theater in every hamlet” as a way to promote democracy – government by the people – people who need information, need to be educated. In this session, the papers build on the idea of documentary discourses to promote political activism. Kristen (Kristy) Fallica analyzes Laura Dunn’s THE UNFORESEEN to reveal how the documentary rhetoric counters “conquest” and “conversion” rhetorics to use a heteroglossic discursive style as a kind of politics. Mary Elizabeth Strunk looks at the overtly political documentary, BLUE VINYL, and talks about how its success is, in part, because it disrupts conventions of the activist documentary and re-imagines the documentary apparatus. Finally, Jason Skonieczny looks to the past and into the future to suggest ways in which documentary is knowledge-making that has implications for political, social, and economical change.
1. TITLE: “Environmental Politics/Poetic Aesthetics: Laura Dunn’s The Unforeseen”
Kristen (Kristy) Fallica is a pre-doctoral teaching fellow in English and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her interests include contemporary documentary and experimental documentary film, war and cinema, and issues in film pedagogy—particularly, film and composition.
2. TITLE: “Vinyl Blues: Documenting PVC Poisonings in Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Comedy” [stills courtesy of Toxic Comedy Pictures]
Mary Elizabeth Strunk: Mary Elizabeth Strunk is finishing editing the manuscript for _Ten Most Wanted: Outlaw Women Who Made Film History and the FBI List_, which will be published by the University Press of Kansas in 2009. She is a visiting assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she teaches classes related to her current research on hormones and biopolitics.
3. TITLE: “The Jouissance of Décroissance: The Depression to Today”
Jason Skonieczny is a candidate for a doctoral degree in Critical Studies of Film, Television and Digital Media at UCLA. His dissertation concerns critiques of the relation of the public individual to collective identity of the culture of the classical American Cinema in the films of John Ford, Josef Von Sternberg and the novels of Herman Melville. He has also presented internationally on ecology and aesthetics and has published in Post Script and online at Mediascape on contemporary film.