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American Documentary FilmProjecting the Nation$
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Jeffrey Geiger

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621477

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621477.001.0001

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‘Uncontrolled’ Situations: Direct Cinema

‘Uncontrolled’ Situations: Direct Cinema

(p.154) Chapter 6 ‘Uncontrolled’ Situations: Direct Cinema
American Documentary Film

Jeffrey Geiger

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 6 investigates a key ‘revolution’ in US documentary production, direct cinema. Direct cinema was not only a case of remediation, but brought with it a whole system of beliefs (variously referred to as a ‘philosophy’, ‘ideology’, or ‘set of rules’) that privileged notions of documentary spontaneity and immediacy. It also helped advance the idea of documentary as a form of democratic access and democratic action, at times reinforcing and at others critiquing a hegemonic national ideal through capturing the diversity and contradictions of the American scene. This chapter examines key influences, practitioners, and landmark texts of direct cinema, charting the rise, fall, and ongoing influences of its practices and beliefs. It includes a close reading of Grey Gardens.

Keywords:   direct cinema, cinema verite, Drew Associates, Albert Maysles, Frederick Wiseman, performance, Grey Gardens

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