Documentary Reenactment

Speaking of revisionist documentary studies, I thought I'd give a quick pointer to Jonathan Kahana's latest post at the Columbia University Press blog, on the topic of documentary reenactment. It's a response to Man on Wire and Errol Morris. I particularly appreciated Kahana's point that "A major artistic and pedagogical device in documentary for most of its history, re-enactment got a bad name in the 1960s, with the rise of the cinéma vérité technique that, for better or worse, has come to be identified as the 'most' documentary of styles." What's worth adding is that even other techniques, including expository doc, took on the taboo for reenactment. I'm curious of how and why that happens, and one project I'd like to embark on is a closer history of the industrial and social contours of documentary. In the meantime, I'll give Kahana's book an eager read.

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