Representing the "Other" in "global documentary": intersections between political commitment and reality claim
(Zentralarchiv Ethnologisches Museum Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
On the basis of the Austrian anti-globalisation documentary "Darwin's Nightmare" (2004), the paper analyzes the syntagmatic structuring of a global-political filmic discourse, particularly the shaping of ideas and images of "the Other", by the means of montage.
Paper long abstract:
On the basis of the Austrian anti-globalisation documentary "Darwin's Nightmare" (2004), the paper analyzes the syntagmatic structuring of a political filmic discourse by the means of montage. In the centre of the discussion lies the question about the shaping of ideas and images of "the Other" by the omission and the juxtaposition of audio-visual information within the scope of politically committed documentary. Like the ethnographic film, documentary in general seems to contain the legitimation of representing the world "like it is" by its indexical signification as well as its assumed lack of staging and acting. But while ethnographic film tries to convey the culture of the people shown, sometimes the socially critical documentary rather tends to serve the worldview of the director than to represent the actual life-worlds of "the Other". That way, the analysis of the filmic rhetoric of "Darwin's Nightmare" - which criticizes the globally working fish-industry around Lake Victoria, Tanzania, and the local socio-biological disturbance that goes along with it - has to focus on three core issues: First, what kind of concepts about globalisation feed this film? Secondly, how does director Hubert Sauper asses notions of diversity and mutuality? Eminently, how does he give voice to the parties involved in that global setting? Thirdly, to what extent can this documentary be considered authentic to reality? Regarding the recent height of "global documentary", the intersecting analyses of filmic and global-political discourse at the level of montage seek contribution to the debate about the representation of "the Other".
Transcultural montage: the uses of filmic montage in conveying diversity and mutuality