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Camera obscurer?

by Hugh Linehan.

LIKE ITS SISTER ART, photography, film has always had a tenuous, paradoxical, productive relationship with concepts such as “facts”and “truth”. The camera lens that supposedly records reality is just as good, if not better, at conjuring up the worlds of dream and fantasy.

Yet we somehow expect factual film-making to aspire to some pure notion of truth, regardless of the high artifice involved in conceiving, planning, filming and editing any film. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the deeply unsatisfactory definitions of the documentary form, which by some reckonings encompasses everything from David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet to Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, taking in along its way swathes of reality television and investigative journalism.

So what is documentary? John Grierson’s famous formulation, that it is the “creative treatment of actuality”, doesn’t help much, as it could stretch to include Tallafornia.

Read the rest of this article from  Irish Times.

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