“Within and beyond reality”: forms of representations challenging the documentary/fiction divide
By blending fact and fiction, some films draw on the stylistic traditions of both documentary and fiction films in various ways, at one time distancing its spectators from objective truth while on the other shedding a light on a kind of intensified reality. If the history of documentaries as a film genre is a history of addressing the question of what constitutes the representation of social reality and the fictional narrative film is an attempt to create an imaginative conception of what is called reality, recent contemporary examples have been challenging this divide in multiple ways, pushing the boundaries of the two genres to the extreme and merging one into the other. Nevertheless, far from being just a contemporary phenomenon, the blurring of these forms—documentary and fictional narrative—is a creative and interpretive challenge that filmmakers have been concerned with since the early days of cinema.
According to classic works like Walton’s Mimesis as Make-Believe (1990) and Currie’s The Nature of Fiction (1990), fiction essentially involves imagining whereas nonfiction essentially involves believing. However, more recent works like Friend’s Fiction as a Genre (2012) and Matravers’ Fiction and Narrative (2014) have challenged this conception of the fiction/nonfiction divide, opening a debate both in the community of academics and practitioners. This course would like to explore the interstices between the two, exploring a metaphorical truth, one that resonates without relying solely on empirical representation, opening serious questions about truth and our positioning towards it.
Working with real people in 1950s post war Italian cinema and new waves (Vittorio de Sica, Pierpaolo Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini, Liliana Cavani, Cecilia Mangini, Leonardo di Costanzo, Pietro Marcello, Alice Rohrwacher)
Mirrors of reality in 1960s French new wave (Chris Marker, Agnes Varda, Jean Luc Godard)
Challenging the audience’s role in 1990s post-revolution Iranian cinema (Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Mahmalbaf, Samira Mahmalbaf, Jafar Panahi)
Playing with reality in 2000s post communist Romania (Radu Jude, Christi Puiu, Adina Pintilie, Cristian Mungiu)
Expanding time and space in contemporary Latin American cinema (Lucretia Martel, Dominga Sotomayor, Carlos Reygadas, Camilo Restrepo)
Within and beyond reality in contemporary UK (Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Penny Woolcock, Clio Barnard, Andrea Arnold, Steve McQueen)
New Waves between anthropology and art (Joshua Oppenheimer, Ulrich Seildl, Salomé Lamas)
Image credit: Still from Close-Up by Abbas Kiarostami, 1990
This course will be delivered via online distance learning, and students will require a computer or other internet connected device.
1x Universal Credit bursary place is available for this course. Please see our bursary policy here.
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Covering contemporary UK film, French new wave, post-revolution Iranian cinema, and more, this short course explores the interstices between fact and fiction, questioning truth and our positioning towards it.