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Post-1990 Documentary

Reconfiguring Independence

Edited by Camille Deprez, Judith Pernin

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Presents in-depth case studies focusing on major aspects of post-1990 documentary practices and styles

In a post-1990 context of unrivalled creativity in documentary filmmaking, what does ‘independence’ really mean? With a broad selection of contributors, this is the first collection of in-depth case studies to cut across different media, formats, subject matters, purposes and national divides. Writing from a wide range of academic perspectives, contributors shed new light on historical, theoretical and empirical issues concerning independent documentary, to better comprehend the radical transformations of the form over the past twenty-five years.

While the digital turn has been widely acknowledged as decisive in reshaping film practices, especially independent ones, this anthology aims at assessing its consequences without overestimating the impact of technology on other political, economic, social and cultural changes. Continuities as well as breaks are therefore put in perspective, with a particular focus on the interactions between these new practices and the established film and television industries.

Divided into three main sections on ‘History and Spaces of Resistance’, ‘The Personal Experience’ and ‘Displacement, Participation and Spectatorship’, Post-1990 Documentary: Reconfiguring Independence provides an innovative interpretation of under-studied subject matters and styles, and rare analysis of differing production, distribution and exhibition strategies. It not only helps to rethink the notion of independence, but also contributes to a fundamental change in our perception of documentary filmmaking.


Introduction, Camille Deprez and Judith Pernin
Part 1: History and Spaces of Resistance
CH. 1: Post-unification (East) German Documentary and the Contradictions of Identity, Barton Byg
Chapter 2: No Going Back: Continuity and Change in Australian Documentary, Deane Williams and John Hughes
Chapter 3: A Space in Between: The Legacy of the Activist Documentary Film in India, Camille Deprez
Chapter 4: Languages, Speech and Voice: The Heritage of Jean Rouch and Pier Paolo Pasolini in Convention: Black Wall / White Holes, Eric Galmard
Chapter 5: Chris Marker: Interactive Screen and Memory, Kristian Feigelson
Part 2: The Personal Experience
Chapter 6: The Survivor-Perpetrator Encounter and the Truth Archive in Rithy Panh’s Documentaries, Raya Morag
Chapter 7: Contesting Consensual Memory: The Work of Remembering in Chilean Autobiographical Documentaries, Juliette Goursat
Chapter 8: ‘We All Invented Our Own Algeria’: Habiba Djahnine’s Letter to My Sister as Memory-Narrative, Sheila Petty
Chapter 9: From the Ashes: The Fall of Apartheid and the Rise of the Lone Documentary Filmmaker in South Africa, Liani Maasdorp
Chapter 10: A Personal Vision of the Hong Kong Cityscape in Anson Mak's Essayistic Documentary Films One Way Street on a Turntable and On the Edge of a Floating City, We Sing, Mike Inghaml Part 3: Displacement, Participation and Spectatorship
Chapter 11: Documentary Filmmakers on the Circuit: A Festival Career from Czech Dream to Czech Peace, Aida Vallejo
Chapter 12: Material Traces of Lebanon: A Documentary Aesthetics of Feeling in the Art Gallery, Tess Takahashi
Chapter 13: Autonomous Navigation? Multiplicity and Self-reflexive Aesthetics in Sergio Basso’s Documentary Film Giallo a Milano and Web Documentary Made in Chinatown, Hilary Chung and Bernadette Luciano
Chapter 14: Fukushima and the Shifting Conventions of Documentary: From Broadcast to Social Media Netizenship, Mick Broderick and Robert Jacobs
Chapter 15: Independent Documentaries and Online Uses in China: From Cinephilia to Activism, Judith Pernin
Conclusion, Camille Deprez and Judith Pernin.

About the Author

Camille Deprez is Research Assistant Professor, Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University. A specialist of Indian documentary cinema and French colonial documentary in Asia, she is the co-editor of Post-1990 Documentary: Reconfiguring Independence (Edinburgh University Press, 2015).

Judith Pernin is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Hong Kong. Her research area is in the history of Chinese documentary film, and post-1990 independent documentary film and visual arts in China.


Camille Deprez and Judith Pernin have gathered together a collection of in-depth case studies which raise many critical questions relating to the field of documentary film studies. The breadth and scope of this book, the novelty of approaches and topics contained within it, the variety of contexts explored, and arguments raised, will be of interest to film scholars, students and practitioners alike.

Prof Ian Aitken, Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University