All posts tagged: Documentary

Tearing, Stitching, Quilting: The Abolition Poetics of Garrett Bradley

A young black woman dressed to signal a 1920s time frame walks along an empty country road, holding an umbrella. She stops in front of a white man sitting beneath a large tree, slowly kneels in front of him, and removes her hat. We see a close-up of his hand before shifting to hers. She begins ripping his white robe, a garment unambiguously suggestive of a Ku Klux Klan costume.

PAGE VIEWS LIVE: A Conversation with Jaimie Baron

Film Quarterly’s new webinar series showcasing the best in recent film and media studies publications continued on December 14th, 2020 with a conversation between Page Views editor Bruno Guaraná and Jaimie Baron about her new book, Reuse, Misuse, Abuse: The Ethics of Audiovisual Appropriation in the Digital Era (Rutgers University Press, 2020).  In this era of fake news and digital manipulation, Reuse, Misuse, Abuse offers an urgent discussion of the ethical and political stakes involved in the repurposing of audiovisual media.  Introduced by FQ editor-in-chief B. Ruby Rich. Bruno Guaraná’s interview with Jaimie Baron appears in the Winter 2020 issue of Film Quarterly. A pdf download of the introduction from Reuse, Misuse, Abuse will be available through the webinar and at https://filmquarterly.org.

Editor’s Introduction: Documenting Conspiracy and Conning in the Age of Misinformation

It’s been called many things: the Golden Age of Fraud, the Golden Age of Conspiracy Theories, the Age of Fake News. Call this moment what you will, but one thing is clear: studying fabrication has perhaps never been more pressing in US history. Trump’s administration has brought with it an onslaught of lies, from the turnout figures at the 2017 inauguration to the sugar-coating of its family-separation policy; then its lies started killing people en masse with the advent of COVID-19. The blatant months-long governmental repudiation of lockdowns and mask-wearing has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, and counting. It’s time not to simply turn away from the false, or to try to combat it with truth, but to study it, regardless of the election results of November 2020.

Loving the Lie: Elizabeth Holmes, Thomas Edison, and Alex Gibney

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019), about the infamous biotech company Theranos and its enigmatic founder, Elizabeth Holmes, is the latest documentary from Alex Gibney. The Theranos/Holmes story is a perfect vehicle for Gibney, a writer-director who specializes in essayistic films that detail the complex nexus of dishonesty, ruthlessness, hubris, and painful reckonings. His filmography is filled with documentaries that fastidiously recount the dark underbelly of outrageous acts by rich and powerful people who eventually get their comeuppance—such as Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005), Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), The Armstrong Lie (2013), Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010), and Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015).

Under Fyre: Debt Culture in the Streaming Era

In what trade papers termed an escalation of the so-called streaming wars, Hulu “rush released” Fyre Fraud (Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, 2019) on January 14, 2019, four days before Netflix debuted Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Chris Smith, 2019). Both of these documentaries, each racing to be first, provide insider knowledge about the infamous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, a fraudulent luxury concert experience turned notorious social-media disaster. Festivalgoers, who had paid anywhere from $450 to $250,000, went to the Bahamas expecting the “once-in-a-lifetime musical experience” promised by Fyre’s glitzy advertising, only to find a logistics and public-relations disaster: canceled musical acts, disaster-relief tents as accommodations, and dysfunctional management.

Smoke and Mirrors: The Bio-Con Documentary in the Age of Trump

Back in 2016, when Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States, there was considerable public discussion about whether or not he would be able to govern by trafficking in the same falsehoods and public prejudices that he peddled as a candidate. To much horror and dismay, four years later, he has proven unequivocally that he can. Popular film and television have answered this mass erosion of truth and justice with narratives about powerful deceivers and sophists. Some, such as festival hit Bad Education (Cory Finley, 2019) and Ryan Murphy’s The Politician (2019–), are vehicles for political commentary, while others, such as Evan Peters’s story line in Pose (2018–), directly link to Trump.