Theses Master's

Documentary Films for Preservation: Representation Techniques for the Field

Kang, Jane

This thesis examines and analyzes engaging representation techniques used in documentary filmmaking both within and outside of the preservation field. It traces the fundamental theoretical disputes that are central to non-fiction, historical documentary filmmaking, and provides a context to how preservationists have utilized the medium for documentation, advocacy, and education. Referring to seminal documentary theorists’ texts such as John Grierson’s First Principles of Documentary Filmmaking and Bill Nichols’ Documentary Modes of Representation, I extrapolate crucial categories of engaging representation strategies and put these into dialogue with presently executed audio visual narratives in films. In my analysis, I investigate three films, each of which have a particular narrative agenda. Documentary filmmaking is utilized to convey historical facts while providing a compelling and persuasive storytelling narrative. All the techniques used within documentary filmmaking thus should then collectively inform, support, and augment the overarching narrative. As I analyze, this is not always the case in the three films. In some moments of the films, audio and visual content is executed in a manner that detracts from the narrative by adding conflicting or distracting imagery and dialogue. This thesis takes a close examination of both engaging and disengaging moments in documentary films. I will propose how filmmaking techniques can be utilized to create more effective representations when actively engaged with narratives in preservation documentary practice.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Rakatansky, Mark
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
September 25, 2018