Colloquium | Chris Cagle

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 12:00pm

Chris Cagle

The In-Between Aesthetics of European Festival Documentary

Recent studies of film festivals and the transnational circulation of world cinema have on occasion remarked on the festival film as a distinctive style or genre of filmmaking fostered or exacerbated by the festival circuit itself. This paper explores this idea with reference to a body of recent European documentaries, often called “author’s documentaries.” While the range of documentaries that screen at festivals span a wide range of styles, they tend to share a coherent position straddling European art cinema traditions and Anglophone/American documentary forms. In their own way, observational, poetic, and character-driven documentaries adapt both traditional and non-Griersonian documentary styles into a new synthesis. Though generally ignored by documentary scholars, these festival documentaries offer new aesthetic forms and, with them, a way of negotiating public sphere challenges in contemporary Europe.

Chris Cagle is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University. His research interests include classical Hollywood, cinematography, documentary, and social theory. He has published essays in Cinema Journal, Screen, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and in a number of edited volumes, including most recently Cinematography (Rutgers UP). He is finishing a manuscript on popular sociology in the 1940s Hollywood social problem film.

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