Toward a Cognitive Definition of First-Person Documentary

Ros, V., O'Connell, J. M. J., Kiss, M. & van Noortwijk, A., 2018, Cognitive Theory and Documentary Film. Brylla, C. & Kramer, M. (eds.). 1 ed. Palgrave MacMillan, p. 223-242 20 p.

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  • Toward a Cognitive Definition of First-Person Documentary

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In contemporary documentary practice, we witness a dominant trend of films that abandon the longstanding ideal of objectivity in favor of more diverse and subjective perspectives on reality. Blurring the boundaries between subject and filmmaker, first person documentaries invite us to critically reflect on the processes by which viewers distinguish nonfiction from fiction. This chapter posits that such assessments depend on the cognitive principle of framing, with viewers drawing on a wide array of textual, contextual, and real-world cues to construe a film as documentary or otherwise. First person films could be understood as a sub-frame of documentary that comes with its own set of expectations and unique emotional affects. This is demonstrated through a case study of Kirsten Johnson’s 2016 Cameraperson.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCognitive Theory and Documentary Film
EditorsCatalin Brylla, Mette Kramer
PublisherPalgrave MacMillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-90332-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-90331-6
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 64272955