Chinese Documentaries: From Dogma to Polyphony (Media, by Yingchi Chu

By Yingchi Chu

In China, not like in Western cinema, documentary movie, instead of fiction movie, has been the dominant mode for the reason that 1949. in recent times, documentary television programmes have skilled a meteoric upward push. Arguing that there's a sluggish technique of 'democratization' within the media, within which documentaries play an important role, this book discusses a variety of kinds of chinese language documentaries, below either the deliberate and the industry economic climate. It particularly explores the courting among documentaries and society, exhibiting how, less than the industry economic system, even if the govt maintains to take advantage of the style as propaganda to advertise its ideologies and regulations, documentaries are getting used as a medium the place public issues and replacement voices might be heard.

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Additional resources for Chinese Documentaries: From Dogma to Polyphony (Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia Series)

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Between Nichols’s documentary imperialism and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Derridean antitotalising stance we find a host of arguments that qualify truth claims for non-fiction film while nevertheless acknowledging the status of documentary film as a recognizable genre. Michael Renov, in the Introduction to Theorizing Documentary, accommodates fictionalisation in documentaries as, ‘moments at which a presumably objective representation of the world encounters the necessity of creative intervention’. (Renov 1993: 2) This includes the ‘construction of character’, the ‘use of poetic language, narration, or musical accompaniment to heighten emotional impact or the creation of suspense via the agency of embedded narratives .

Certainly, my argument goes, Chinese documentary film and television programmes are beginning to realise the democratic potential of polyphonic heterogeneity. We could speak of a rehearsal of democracy by means other than the obviously political. CDC01 38 17/5/07, 10:57 AM Nationalism and the birth of Chinese documentary 2 39 Nationalism and the birth of Chinese documentary Introduction Just as documentary film as a genre is inseparable from politics, so too is the evolution of documentary film in China inextricably tied to the changes in the political landscape.

While the majority of film theorists tend to align narrative with fiction film, Rosen argues, correctly in my view, that documentary, as well as other nonfiction genres, relies on narrative techniques, the sequencing of documentable materials (Rosen 1993: 58–89). Leaning towards the other camp, Susan Schreiber offers an argument in favour of seeing documentary film as a visual ‘performative’. In doing so, she critiques the Austinian notion of performative speech act from a Derridean perspective by sharpening the force of the performative over the referent.

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