The feeling of being watched, first-person documentary on surveillance

Authors: Viviana Echavez Molina*, University of Campinas
Topics: Communication
Keywords: Surveillance, Contemporary Documentary, Subjectivity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Capitol Ballroom 1, Hyatt Regency, Fourth Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the last decades, the presence of surveillance in everyday life has increased. Documentary filmmakers have reflected on this phenomenon using different formal resources. In this paper I will explore the use of first-person narratives. I will take a closer look at three films: Erasing David (David Bond, UK, 2010), Citizenfour (Laura Poitras, US, 2014) and Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson, US, 2015). In these films, director’s self inscription uses different approaches, such as the presence of the director’s body on the scene and the use of first-person voice or texts. The three films have in common the intertwining between the personal and the political when talking about surveillance.
I will argue that this kind of narration is told from the ‘being under surveillance’ perspective. Directors tell a story about being watched, narrating historical events under a subjective point-of view that can awake a sense of identification among the spectators, which can lead them to a critical positioning against surveillance.

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