Experimental Documentary Questionnaire/responses
Hilderbrand, Lucas, Sachs, Lynne, Millennium Film Journal
Below is the original questionnaire that we sent to numerous film and video artists whose work crosses between experimental and documentary modes. The questionnaire was sent to a broad swath of media artists, including influential experimental filmmakers and documentarians, single-channel video artists and artists better known for their gallery installations, and various specific folks whose work we admired. As editors, we found it often productive when respondents abandoned the Q&A format altogether and expressed their ideas with their own structures - in the process, making this a dynamic interaction with varied formats. The responses that follow may not directly answer the questions and, in most cases, have been revised from their original versions.
- Lucas Hilderbrand and Lynne Sachs
THIS ISSUE OF MILLENNIUM FILM JOURNAL IS ABOUT A BROAD CATEGORY OF WORK THAT WE ARE CALLING "EXPERIMENTAL DOCUMENTARY": ESSAYISTIC, FORMAL, RESEARCHED, STRUCTURAL, EPISODIC, SELF-REFLEXIVE, IMPRESSIONISTIC, AND/OR PERSONAL FILMS AND VIDEOS THAT EXPLORE SOCIAL ISSUES. AS PART OF THIS ISSUE, WE INVITE YOUR RESPONSES (TO ANY OR ALL) QUESTIONS - AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO REPLY CREATIVELY.
I. DO YOU AGREE THAT "EXPERIMENTAL DOCUMENTARY" IS A VALID CATEGORY? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT? WHAT ARE ITS AIMS AND/OR SUBJECTS?
II. HOW DO ARTISTS WHO DO THE WORK OF DOCUMENTARY - AND YET ARE NOT PRIMARILY CONSIDERED DOCUMENTARIANS - CHALLENGE OUR CONCEPTIONS OF NON-FICTION CINEMA? WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR RELATION TO DOCUMENTARY?
III. WHERE DOES DOCUMENTARY MEET THE AVANT-GARDE?
IV. WHAT ROLE DOES POLITICAL CRITIQUE OR ACTIVISM PLAY IN YOUR WORK? HOW ARE YOUR POLITICS COMMUNICATED? HOW DO POLITICS AND AESTHETICS INFORM EACH OTHER?
V. WHAT RECENT WORKS OR ARTISTS HAVE INSPIRED NEW WAYS OF SEEING THE WORLD? HAVE INSPIRED NEW WAYS OF THINKING? HAVE INSPIRED CHANGE?
As a filmmaker and media artist whose work has been labeled experimental documentary, these are the questions I ponder. . .
* What mediums, structures, and styles are most appropriate for representing lived experience?
* How can I capture internal experience - moments that are felt, dreamt, inchoate - along with the non-physical and non-verbal textures of life?
* How can I express the ways in which the personal and psychological intersect with the social and the political?
* How can I create work that has fidelity to lives lived by the people who share their stories with me?
* Where is the line between lived experience and pure imagination?
Here are some strategies I've developed in my ongoing struggle to engage with these questions. . .
In the early stages of creating a film or CD-ROM I interview people to discover and distill the "truth" of the idea I'm working on, be it mothers and daughters, women in the work place, the contractions of identity, or the immigrant experience. Daughter Rite was based on interviews with thirty-five women who spoke to me about their relationships with their mothers. The three fictional characters in Daughter Rite - Maggie and Stephanie in the faux cinema vérité scenes and the narrator of the voice over - are compilations drawn from these interviews. No one character presents any one woman interviewed; each is a distillation of all the women who contributed to Daughter Rite, including myself. I used this same strategy to create the fictional talking-head interviews in What You Take For Granted... For Mixed Greens^ where half of the stories focus on changing lesbian identities over time, I interviewed over twenty-five women. It was only through this research that I could portray the fives of lesbians from pre-Stonewall days through the 70s and into the 21st century. As with Daughter Rite and What You Take For Granted..., the characters in Mixed Greens'?, fictional stories are composites …
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Publication information: Article title: Experimental Documentary Questionnaire/responses. Contributors: Hilderbrand, Lucas - Author, Sachs, Lynne - Author. Journal title: Millennium Film Journal. Issue: 51 Publication date: Spring 2009. Page number: 11+. © Millennium Film Workshop Inc. Fall 2006. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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