The documentary

Female subjectivity and the problem of realism

Authored by: Belinda Smaill

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138924956
eBook ISBN: 9781315684062
Adobe ISBN: 9781317408055


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Few film genres are as significant for feminism as the documentary. It is overwhelmingly the genre to be taken up for advocacy purposes and as a tool within grassroots movements—the documentary genre is crucially tied to the politicization of women’s experience. In comparison with fiction feature film, more women work as directors or in key roles in documentary production, making it critical to women’s representation in the industry in many parts of the world. Despite this, documentary directors achieve a more modest public profile than their counterparts in fiction. Moreover, documentary has been under-theorized in scholarly approaches to media and cinema. In this chapter I take up the question of gender and documentary, exploring its relevance at the nexus of critical debates and filmmaking practice, both historical and contemporary.

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