Chapter

Relative Truths: Documentary and Postmodernity

Jeffrey Geiger

in American Documentary Film

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748621477
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670796 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621477.003.0008
Relative Truths: Documentary and Postmodernity

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Chapter 7 outlines postmodern influences in documentary, a meeting of theory and praxis often characterized by self-reflexivity and formal instability in nonfiction film. The postmodern era saw a shift away from documentary certainty and immediacy, corresponding to a poststructuralist questioning of truth and the transparency of representation. Critics such as Linda Williams have convincingly shown that postmodern documentary, by insistently exposing its artifice while retaining key elements of its traditional forms and uses, constitutes a break with convention. Arguably and somewhat paradoxically, as this chapter shows, moves towards postmodern ambivalence actually reinvigorated the form, leading to rich meditations on the ambiguities of evidence, testimony, and other kinds of documentation. The chapter includes a close reading of Tongues Untied.

Keywords: postmodernism; Errol Morris; multiculturalism; ethnicity; sexuality; queer documentary; Marlon Riggs; Tongues Untied

Chapter.  13395 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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