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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
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Throughout the last decade some documentary filmmakers have reflected on the increasing presence of surveillance in social life by way of using first-person narratives. This paper 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), all of them share the close intertwining between personal and political dimensions of surveillance experiences. The article aims to discern how documentary filmmakers represent surveillance when they are under surveillance themselves. For this purpose, the strategies of directors’ self inscription will be analyzed with a focus on those formal cinematographic resources contributions to portrait the different forms of contemporary surveillance. Based on Laura Rascaroli’s argument that the subjective enunciators of first-person films often address spectators directly (2009), it will be argued that these films might encourage the identification with the ‘being watched’ perspective which leads to a critical position against surveillance.

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