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Ian Aitken, Editor

The first comprehensive reference work on documentary film

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Documentary film dates back to the last decades of the nineteenth century and has been practiced since then in every region of the world. Varying in style, technique, editing, story-telling, narration, and intent, it is a medium that records the cross-section of human experience, from monumental conflict to simple lives lived day to day. It documents the events, pressures, and institutions of modern society, records traditional cultural practices, cultural changes, and captures the natural and animal world in all their complexity. Diverse in form and subject matter, documentary film can have many missions as well, at times created to inform, intrigue, teach, enlighten, convert, outrage, accuse, and also to serve as perfect propaganda.

With over 800 articles from scholars around the world, the Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film is a fully international reference work on the history of the documentary film from the Lumière brothers' Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1885) to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 (2004). All over the world documentary films have provided engaging, provocative, and skilled representations of life and this Encyclopedia provides a resource that critically analyzes that history in all its aspects. Not only does this Encyclopedia examine individual films and the careers of individual film makers, it also provides overview articles of national and regional documentary film history. It explains concepts and themes in the study of documentary film, the techniques used in making films, and the institutions that support their production, appreciation, and preservation. With over 200 film stills, this resource provides the decisive entry point into the history of an art form.

The Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film:

  • Discusses individual films and filmmakers including little-known filmmakers from countries such as India, Bosnia, China and others

  • Examines the documentary filmmaking traditions within nations and regions, or within historical periods in places such as Iran, Brazil, Portugal, and Japan

  • Explores themes, issues, and representations in documentary film including human rights, modernism, homosexuality, and World War I, as well as types of documentary film such as newsreels and educational films

  • Elaborates on production companies, organizations, festivals, and institutions such as the American Film Institute, Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board, Hot Docs (Toronto), and the World Union of Documentary

  • Describes styles, techniques, and technical issues such as animation, computer imaging, editing techniques, IMAX, music, and spoken commentary ("Voice of God")

The Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film is the first work of its kind to provide much-needed support to this increasingly important area of study. Bringing together all aspects of documentary film, this accessible three volume set is an essential and comprehensive resource for scholars, students, and the interested general reader.

  • Over 700 entries that range in length from 500 to 7,000 words by leading international scholars and specialists in the field

  • Entries include useful bibliographies for suggestions for further reading and research as well as biographies and filmographies as appropriate

  • Clear and accessible writing in an easy to navigate A-to-Z format

  • A comprehensive and analytical index

  • Thematic and alphabetic list of entries

  • Cross-references that guide the reader to related topics

  • Over 200 black-and-white photographs

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