Showing posts from October, 2015

The Meta Ethical Documentary

Field Niggas dir. Khalik Allah, 2014 Genre: Poetic/observational currently showing theatrically in New York
I need to watch and reflect more widely, but I am not sure I've seen all that many documentaries aligned with portraiture photography. There are certainly portrait docs, both as a genre and as a mode, I would argue, but I am referring to documentaries that intersect with the operational aesthetics of still portraiture photography. They exist, certainly, but the examples elude me.
Field Niggas inhabits this intersection. The director Khalik Allah is a still photographer extending his street photography into cinema with gorgeous HD videography. Of course, high-definition digital cameras can make lovely images easy to capture, but even though I've gotten used to the proliferation of aestheticizing shooting in documentary, the work in Field Niggas is stunning. 
But the portraiture aesthetic is more than prettiness. I am thinking too of the photographer-subject rapport (import…