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Open Access The documentary temptation: Fiction filmmakers and non-fiction forms

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This essay addresses the ‘documentary temptation’ for filmmakers more usually associated with fiction: an encounter with reality – whether rendered in minimalist, observational, cinéma-vérité, or conventional reportage formats – that comes on an initial, primary level without artifice, pretence, contrivance, or the industrial and aesthetic machinery of narrative cinema. The notion of such a ‘return to zero’ is critically explored with reference to directors including Jean Eustache, James Benning, Martin Scorsese, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Wim Wenders, and Stan Brakhage.
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Keywords: avant-garde; cinéma-vérité; documentary; essay-film; re-enactment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Adrian Martin is Professor of Film Studies at Goethe University (Frankfurt) and Monash University (Melbourne). His writing has been translated into over 20 languages and he publishes regular columns in De Filmkrant (Holland) and Caiman (Spain). He is the author of seven books and is co-editor of the online film journals LOLA ( and Screening the Past, as well as the books Movie Mutations and Raúl Ruiz: Images of Passage. His most recent book is Mise en scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art (Palgrave, 2014).

Publication date: September 1, 2014

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  • NECSUS is an international, double-blind peer reviewed journal of media studies connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and published by Amsterdam University Press. The journal is multidisciplinary and strives to bring together the best work in the field of media studies across the humanities and social sciences. We aim to publish research that matters and that improves the understanding of media and culture inside and outside the academic community. Each volume includes feature articles, a special thematic section, a video essay section, and a reviews section that covers books, festivals, and exhibitions. NECSUS is targeted to a broad readership of researchers, lecturers, and students, and will be offered as a biannual open access, online journal.

    The journal is published in Open Access, with the following Creative Commons copyright license: Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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