Cover

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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: Phony Definitions and Troubling Taxonomies of the Fake Documentary

Alexandra Juhasz, Jesse Lerner

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pp. 1-36

And there’s no law that says we can’t start fake and end real. So, there is a movie jail: a massive, overcrowded multiplex looping this year’s flops, serving stale popcorn and overly syrupy Coke, with an antiquated sound system, weak bulbs, and no stadium seating. Filmmakers are sent there for infractions against movie laws: breaking codes of continuity editing, going over budget. ...

Part I. History as Bunk

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1 Steel Engines and Cardboard Rockets: The Status of Fiction and Nonfiction in Early Cinema

Charlie Keil

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pp. 39-49

It was once a commonplace of film histories to root the opposed tendencies of cinema toward documentary or fiction in the respective achievements of early film pioneers Louis Lumière and Georges Méliès.1 The obvious differences between the engine of steam and steel pulling into Ciotat station and the cardboard rocket hurtling toward a papier-mâché moon were cited as incontestable textual evidence of this split heritage. ...

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2 La Venganza de Pancho Villa: A Lost and Found Border Film

Gregorio C. Rocha

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pp. 50-58

On January 5, 1914, Frank N. Thayer, representing Mutual Film Corporation, and General Pancho Villa, head of the Constitutionalist Army in the Mexican revolution, gathered in the office of attorney Gunther Lessing in El Paso, Texas, to sign a contract. In it, Pancho Villa agreed to give exclusive rights to Mutual to film the triumphant campaign of his army on its way to Mexico City. ...

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3 Trashing Shulie: Remnants from Some Abandoned Feminist History

Elisabeth Subrin

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pp. 59-66

Shulie uses conventions of direct cinema to explore the residual impact of the 1960s, and to challenge the parameters of historical evidence or material. The project was initiated upon my seeing an obscure 16 mm documentary portrait of a young Chicago art student, shot in 1967 by four male graduate film students. ...

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4 No Lies about Ruins

Jesse Lerner

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pp. 67-75

When the cops busted the Veracruzanos, they thought they had some major league looters of pre-Columbian artifacts on their hands. Although such objects have long been protected as national patrimony in Mexico, the high prices they fetch in the auction houses and galleries of New York and Europe, the relatively unmonitored and isolated condition of many of the country’s archaeological sites, ...

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5 The Past in Ruins: Postmodern Politics and the Fake History Film

Steve Anderson

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pp. 76-88

Since the late 1970s, theorists of historiography have challenged the assumption that the goal of history writing should be the progressive assembling of “larger historical truths” into grand libraries of fact and interpretation.1 Hayden White’s influential writings on narrative and historiography claim that the work of the historian has never been merely the transliteration of a preexistent past into a documentary medium. ...

Part II. Double-Cross Cultural Filmmaking

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6 Land without Bread

Luis Buñuel

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pp. 91-98

Before you see the film which has been announced for this meeting, I should like to tell you very briefly something about this district of Spain which you are about to visit, especially about some aspects of it which do not appear in the film. ...

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7 Surrealist Ethnography: Las Hurdes and the Documentary Unconscious

Catherine Russell

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pp. 99-115

Luis Buñuel’s 1932 film Las Hurdes (a.k.a. Tierra sin pan) may be the only actual example of a surrealist documentary film, and its experimentation provides an important example for understanding more contemporary play with documentary representation. ...

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8 Extracts from an Imaginary Interview: Questions and Answers about Bontoc Eulogy

Marlon Fuentes

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pp. 116-129

My work in photography was being generated by an increasingly narrative subtext, ideas about duration and the use of history and ritual and their artifacts. I was also fascinated by how certain bodies of knowledge and their representational strategies were codified into structures and surfaces that had their own intrinsic valences and ways of reception. ...

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9 Makes Me Feel Mighty Real: The Watermelon Woman and the Critique of Black Visuality

Robert F. Reid-Pharr

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pp. 130-140

The conceit of Cheryl Dunye’s 1995 feature The Watermelon Woman is that the archive of the lived reality of black lesbian women is so scattered and fractured that it becomes necessary for the artist to weave the historical narrative herself, to uncover through the practice of her art bits and pieces of usable evidence, remnants of an early version of liberated black lesbianism. ...

Part III. Deception

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10 The Artifice of Realism and the Lure of the “Real” in Orson Welles’s F for Fake and Other T(r)eas(u)er(e)s

Catherine L. Benamou

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pp. 143-170

F for Fake (1973) is one of the last films that Orson Welles would complete and release (although certainly not his final project of significance) before his career was cut short by his death in 1985.1 In essence, it is a film about the pitfalls of the art market, about how, in advanced capitalist modernity, the commodification of art inevitably undermines claims to authenticity, ...

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11 Forgotten Silver: A New Zealand Television Hoax and Its Audience

Craig Hight, Jane Roscoe

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pp. 171-186

Although documentary texts have traditionally enjoyed a privileged position in relation to fictional media as assumed bearers of truth and knowledge about the social world, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to maintain that status. Some of the more interesting recent research within the realm of documentary theory has centered on the long tradition of documentary hybrids, ...

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12 The Truth about No Lies (If You Can Believe It)

Mitchell W. Block

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pp. 187-195

It’s July 2002 and I am observing a photo shoot for a new “reality” program that will air on TNT in 2003 called (working title) The Residents. R. J. Cutler, producer of The War Room (1993) and the Emmy Award–winning series (FOX and PBS) American High (2000), is the show’s executive producer, and his company, Actual Reality Pictures, has been making this work for the past year. ...

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13 Screen Memories: Fakeness in Asian American Media Practice

Eve Oishi

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pp. 196-220

With this metaphor, Morrison eloquently expresses the power and the potential of memory within historical and literary narrative.1 Like the Mississippi River that has been “straightened,” its curves and broader banks buried under sand and mud, official history is recorded and passed down in partial and deceptively straightforward stories, ...

Part IV. Conclusions

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14 Faking What? Making a Mockery of Documentary

Alisa Lebow

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pp. 223-237

This volume is predicated on a category, the fake documentary, that the editors have chosen over and above the term mockumentary, for reasons they have amply delineated. It is considered that mocking is only one possible stance that the fake documentary can take. ...

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15 As a Finale: Reflections on a Phantasm

Alexandra Juhasz, Jesse Lerner

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pp. 238-240

In the year 2001, we held a series of screenings in Claremont, California, about the fake documentary, F Is for Phony, that culminated in a symposium (and later, this collection). Imagine our surprise when, near the day’s end, an unidentified Claremont College undergraduate arose from the audience and demanded that we “screen his film here and now,” ...

Filmography

Nizan Shaked

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pp. 241-244

Contributors

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pp. 245-248

Index

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pp. 249-255