Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Feminism and Documentary

1999

Diane Waldman and Janet Walker, editors

Feminism and Documentary

The first book of essays to explore the intersection of these two vital disciplines.

Documentary and feminist film studies have long been separate or parallel universes that need to converse or collide. The essays in this volume, written by prominent scholars and filmmakers, demonstrate the challenges that feminist perspectives pose for documentary theory, history, and practice.

Contributors: Michelle Citron, Gloria J. Gibson, Chris Holmlund, Alexandra Juhasz, Ann Kaneko, Anahid Kassabian, David Kazanjian, Susan Knobloch, Silvia Kratzer-Juilfs, Deborah Lefkowitz, Julia Lesage, Laura U. Marks, Paula Rabinowitz, Michael Renov, and Patricia R. Zimmermann.

This collection of inventive essays-often stunningly brilliant, always inventively creative-brings the insights of feminist film theory into an illuminating encounter with the practices of documentary films. The exciting result, which pushes the limits of film form and the oversights of feminist thought, energizes both topics, giving new life to what we thought were old debates. In this wonderful endeavor-with an agenda-setting introduction that serves as a clarion call, with its truly international range and mindset, with its clear and urgent social mission-feminism and documentary discover what they always had in common besides a love affair with film: a mutual and urgent regard for the quality and equality of life on this planet. Documentary film and feminist theory were not things we did. They embodied what we are, what we could be.

Patricia Mellencamp, Distinguished Professor of Art History, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, author of A Fine Romance: Five Ages of Film Feminism

Documentary and feminist film studies have long been separate or parallel universes that need to converse or collide. The essays in this volume, written by prominent scholars and filmmakers, demonstrate the challenges that feminist perspectives pose for documentary theory, history, and practice. They also show how fuller attention to documentary enriches and complicates feminist theory, especially regarding the relationship between gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and nation.

Feminism and Documentary begins with a substantial historical introduction that highlights several of the specific areas that contributors address: debates over realism, the relationship between filmmaker and subject, historical thinking about documentary and thinking about the historical documentary, biography and autobiography, and the use of psychoanalysis. Other essays, most of which appear here for the first time, range from broad overviews to close analyses of particular films and videos and from discussions of well-known works such as Roger and Me and Don’t Look Back to lesser known texts that might revise the canon.

The collection includes an extensive filmography and videography with useful distribution information and a bibliography of work in this neglected area of scholarship. Lucid, sophisticated, and eye-opening, this book will galvanize documentary studies and demonstrate the need for women’s and cultural studies to grapple with visual media.

Contributors: Michelle Citron, Northwestern U; Gloria J. Gibson, Indiana U; Chris Holmlund, U of Tennessee; Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College; Ann Kaneko; Anahid Kassabian, Fordham U; David Kazanjian, U of California, Berkeley; Susan Knobloch; Silvia Kratzer-Juilfs; Deborah Lefkowitz; Julia Lesage, U of Oregon; Laura U. Marks, Carleton U, Ottawa; Paula Rabinowitz, U of Minnesota; Michael Renov, USC; Patricia R. Zimmermann, Ithaca College.

Feminism and Documentary

Diane Waldman is associate professor in the Department of Mass Communications at the University of Denver. Janet Walker is associate professor of film studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Feminism and Documentary

This collection of inventive essays-often stunningly brilliant, always inventively creative-brings the insights of feminist film theory into an illuminating encounter with the practices of documentary films. The exciting result, which pushes the limits of film form and the oversights of feminist thought, energizes both topics, giving new life to what we thought were old debates. In this wonderful endeavor-with an agenda-setting introduction that serves as a clarion call, with its truly international range and mindset, with its clear and urgent social mission-feminism and documentary discover what they always had in common besides a love affair with film: a mutual and urgent regard for the quality and equality of life on this planet. Documentary film and feminist theory were not things we did. They embodied what we are, what we could be.

Patricia Mellencamp, Distinguished Professor of Art History, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, author of A Fine Romance: Five Ages of Film Feminism

The essays are carefully researched studies of feminism’s ongoing commitment to counter histories. The anthology is international in its scope; the contributions made by theorists are set alongside those made by practitioners; the place of Canadian documentary practice, past and present, is represented.

Canadian Journal of Film Studies

What Feminism and Documentary accomplishes particularly well is that it rather than simply present feminist writing about documentary films, or critiques of feminist documentarians, it explores questions of mutual relevance to both fields. Her documentary historiography underscores the common ground of feminist studies, radical documentary, and social movements. By its insistence on interrogating the categories of film studies and feminism alike, this volume goes a long way to furthering the agenda of both fields.

Xcp

Feminism and Documentary is a valuable work that enhances discussion on both feminist documentaries and the history of women in documentary; and the reassessment of the field of documentary in general terms. Feminism has indeed left its imprint on documentary filmmaking, and I believe this book to be the first general work to acknowledge this fact so clearly and intelligently, keeping both documentary and feminism in view with neither eclipsing the other.

Screening the Past

Feminism and Documentary is more than a document about cinema studies. It is a guide to the major issues in the study of documentary film today.

Film and History