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States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies

States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies
Your Price: $29.95 CDN
Author: Patricia R. Zimmermann
Publisher: University Of Minnesota Press
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 229
Pub. Date: 2000
ISBN-10: 0816628238
ISBN-13: 9780816628230

About the Book:

A passionate argument for the importance of radical documentary and experimental filmmaking in the face of rapid technological and political change.

Today’s political, technological, and aesthetic landscapes are rife with landmines. In this embattled milieu, leftist filmmakers and conservatives struggle for control of the national imaginary. Amid unprecedented mergers and consolidations, political conservatives have launched major attacks against the National Endowment for the Arts, the Public Broadcasting System, state arts councils, and other sponsors of oppositional programming. Meanwhile, developing technologies like satellites and the Internet have not only altered and globalized communication but also offer untapped possibilities for reconstructing democracies. All of these events signal a radical transformation in how we will view the world in the decades to come.

In States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies, film scholar Patricia R. Zimmermann describes the shifting terrains socially engaged documentary artists and experimental filmmakers encounter in the aftermath of these changes. Public space has been chiseled away and politically conscious documentaries forced to go underground. Viewing an array of subjects (including the wars in Bosnia, Chiapas, and the Persian Gulf; Japanese internment during World War II; homelessness; race; and reproductive rights) through technologies ranging from high-end video, camcorders, cable access, digital imaging systems, and media piracy, Zimmermann creates an explosive montage of colliding ideas and events. In combative terms, she charts the intricately layered relationships between independent documentary, power, money, and culture, and also analyzes how media artists use new technologies and radical media practices to undermine cuts in support and conservative backlash.

States of Emergency anchors documentary into a social and historical context that shows the complex connections among audiences, filmmakers, funders, and subjects in the fascinating and fraught milieu in which they coexist. Zimmermann passionately and convincingly argues that the survival of democracies and public spaces is inextricably fuelled by the robust endurance of documentary and other insurgent forms of communication.

What people say:

"States of Emergency is an invigorating and intellectually stimulating read. It offers stinging critiques of recent governmental policies and corporate mergers, and closely investigates their past and potential effects on both independent cinema and public space. ...Divided into two sections, States of Emergency first introduces the various assaults being waged against the independent documentary, and then proceeds to offer concrete moves that can be taken to retaliate against those who threaten the art form." — Ithaca Times

"States of Emergency should come with a health warning: Explicit political content-may induce political and social agitation. Patricia Zimmerman takes as her focus independent documentary films, the most marginalised screen form, and provides a critique of the systematic destruction of public spaces required for this form to continue. Her objective is to reclaim those spaces for independent documentary practice." — Media International (Australia)

"States of Emergency is a compelling and original intervention against the global hegemony of corporate media productions and their images." — Millennium

About the Author:

Patricia R. Zimmermann is professor of Screen Studies in the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College and the author of States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies.