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Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Patricia Aufderheide
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

24 Jan 2008 Very Short Introductions
Documentary film can encompass anything from Robert Flaherty's pioneering ethnography Nanook of the North to Michael Moore's anti-Iraq War polemic Fahrenheit 9/11, from Dziga Vertov's artful Soviet propaganda piece Man with a Movie Camera to Luc Jacquet's heart-tugging wildlife epic March of the Penguins. In this concise, crisply written guide, Patricia Aufderheide takes readers along the diverse paths of documentary history and charts the lively, often fierce debates among filmmakers and scholars about the best ways to represent reality and to tell the truths worth telling. Beginning with an overview of the central issues of documentary filmmaking-its definitions and purposes, its forms and founders-Aufderheide focuses on several of its key subgenres, including public affairs films, government propaganda (particularly the works produced during World War II), historical documentaries, and nature films. Her thematic approach allows readers to enter the subject matter through the kinds of films that first attracted them to documentaries, and it permits her to make connections between eras, as well as revealing the ongoing nature of documentary's core controversies involving objectivity, advocacy, and bias. Interwoven throughout are discussions of the ethical and practical considerations that arise with every aspect of documentary production. A particularly useful feature of the book is an appended list of "100 great documentaries" that anyone with a serious interest in the genre should see. Drawing on the author's four decades of experience as a film scholar and critic, this book is the perfect introduction not just for teachers and students but also for all thoughtful filmgoers and for those who aspire to make documentaries themselves. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Frequently Bought Together

Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Imagining Reality + Introduction to Documentary
Price For All Three: 28.60

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  • Imagining Reality 10.49
  • Introduction to Documentary 12.52

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (24 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195182707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195182705
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Always clear and concise... a welcome addition to the Very Short Introductions series. The Observer

About the Author

Patricia Aufderheide is a professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., and founder-director of its Center for Social Media. She received the career achievement award for scholarship from the International Documentary Association in 2006 and has served as a Sundance Film Festival juror and as a board member of the Independent Television Service. She is the author, most recently, of The Daily Planet: A Critic on the Capitalist Culture Beat.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Book 2 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am studying Documentary at University and this is a very useful book. It was agood price and had a quick delivery.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pocket Guide to Documentary Film 24 Nov 2010
By DRavideditor - Published on
This is an excellent guide for any potential filmmaker or fan of the Documentary Film genre.

Dr. Aufderheide is a leader in the field of documentary film (look her up on the web) and her affordable fact-filled guide is well worth the $10.

In a time when most authors write expensive 300-plus page texts, the "Very Short Introduction" series is a welcome alternative.

The text includes an insightful list of the best 100 documentaries, and an extensive list of reading resources.

I teach Advanced Documentary Film Production at the college level and Pat's guide is required reading for my course.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but the wrong Paley. 22 Dec 2013
By Douglas C. Troyan - Published on
Overall an excellent introduction.

I made this review mainly to note an interesting typo (or slip of the keyboard) at the top of page 59. The author writes "Richard Paley's CBS" when, in fact, the boss of CBS was named William S. Paley.

"Richard Paley" was the pseudonym adopted by the investigative reporter played by Warren Beatty in THE PARALLAX VIEW.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge amount of info in a small book 17 Mar 2011
By Patricia H. Stell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Aufderheide's small book is packed with information, but so beautifully organized you can actually find what you're looking for. Tight, cogent prose makes it both an excellent history of, and an inviting introduction to documentary film. And once you've read it, you have a nifty little handbook!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little text, a little too much on international titles 9 Feb 2011
By Michael Nielsen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Patricia's short introduction is a great little book because the she hits all the biggies (film makers, modes, etc) of documentary film without the higher level conceptual stuff that makes Bill Nichols' book a hard read for my undergraduates. That is the good bit. On the down side, she cites a lot of non US films that are hard to get; that makes it less useful for small programs that don't have such an extensive film library. I will order this book again next time around. One thing is certain: The price is right!
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting 12 Sep 2013
By Richard R. Casper - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read the whole book in 2 sittings. Very well written and organized. A good read for documentary film lovers. Especially beginners.
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