AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY: HISTORY, PRACTICES, GENRES
by Trish FitzSimons, Pat Laughren, and Dugald Williamson
Cambridge University Press, $59.95 pb, 304 pp, 9780521167994
The concept of ‘documentary’ is a slippery customer. It may start with John Grierson’s ‘creative treatment of actuality’, but, like holding water in your hand, it bleeds across media from film into television and digital media, and across modes in one direction into news reporting and in the other into docudrama. Documentary’s privileged relation to the real world, in opposition to fiction, raises another conceptual problem: that of who is speaking, and by what right. The technological media at issue here are always multi-vocal, no matter how determined a claim a director may make to authorship. But, in the documentary field, human subjects can also make claims to speak for themselves, and in a digital world even the audience has some opportunity to provide one aspect of the documentary voice.