Doc 2: Performative Mode

While no film perfectly fits a solid description, I think the performative mode is the point where participatory and poetic modes meet. Bill Nichols explained that it “emphasizes the subjective or expressive aspect of the filmmaker’s own involvement in the subject…it rejects notions of objectivity in favor of evocation and affect.” (Introduction to Documentary p.22) Participatory documentary shows the filmmaker’s process of creation as part of the story itself; performative mixes in art to better evoke emotion.  Agnes Varda created staged symbol-laden shots and mused on life, old age and death to heighten the experience of watching gleaners at work; Rea Tajiri artistically recreates her vision of vague familial memories and intersperses it with Hollywood films to emphasize just how little is known about Japanese internment.

In this documentary I explore the idea of place identity – where am I from? I can say that I’m from Farr West, but that’s not where I was born, and not where I spent the first eight years of my life, and definitely not where I spent the last eight years of my life, but it is where I spent the most memorable years of my life. The performative comes in with the presentation of the story, by showing the physical prints of a few photographs representing the highlights of where I have lived interspersed with current footage of where I live now to illustrate the memory that builds identity. It represents a reflection of how places become home and home changes over time. I am showing my photos to the audience, but in a way that instills nostalgia and subtle conflict.

Performative Documentary is difficult to carry out in a two-to-three-minute time limit; being such a personally creative process, I feel like it would have been nice to be able to expand the exploration of place identity into 20 or 30 minutes and tell stories apart from my own. However, this was an good exercise in thinking about simple ways creatively illustrate Performative Documentary.

One Reply to “Doc 2: Performative Mode”

  1. Josh, I really enjoyed your short documentary focused on the performative mode. I could really see how personal this film was to you and it was full of emotion. I do feel like it was pretty performative in the sense that you used photographs and a voice over to share your story. The knowledge you were sharing wasn’t obtained through books because it was all personal knowledge. I could also see that you relied a lot on your own voice to organize the film. As part of the audience, I was able to better understand how your love for trains derives from the place your are from. The music in the background also brought emotion to the video. It made me feel connection with you on how much you love where you are from.

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