Screen Studies
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The Act of Documenting

The Act of Documenting: Documentary Film in the 21st Century

by Brian Winston

Brian Winston is the Lincoln Professor at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has held senior academic posts at universities both in the UK and the USA and is a visiting professor at Beijing Normal University. In 1985, he won an Emmy for documentary script-writing and he is the editor of The Documentary Film Book. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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, Gail Vanstone

Gail Vanstone is the coordinator of the Culture & Expression program at York University, Canada. She is concerned with the affordances of new technology for the documentary and women’s film production. She is the author of D is for Daring, a history of Studio D the feminist film unit at Canada’s National Film Board. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and Wang Chi

Wang Chi is a lecturer at the Communication University of China and a doctoral student at the University of Lincoln, UK. He has published widely on the documentary in Chinese, including the edited volumes (with Brian Winston) Documenting and Methods (2014). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2017
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781501309205
  • ISBN:
    9781501309205 (online)

    9781501309168 (hardback)

    9781501309175 (paperback)

    9781501309182 (epub)

    9781501309199 (epdf)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
    New York
The Act of Documenting
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Documentary has never attracted such audiences, never been produced with such ease from so many corners of the globe, never embraced such variety of expression. The very distinctions between the filmed, the filmer and the spectator are being dissolved. The Act of Documenting addresses what this means for documentary’s 21st century position as a genus in the “class” cinema; for its foundations as, primarily, a scientistic, eurocentric and patriarchal discourse; for its future in a world where assumptions of photographic image integrity cannot be sustained. Unpacked are distinctions between performance and performativy and between different levels of interaction, linearity and hypertextuality, engagement and impact, ethics and conditions of reception. Winston, Vanstone and Wang Chi explore and celebrate documentary’s potentials in the digital age.