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October 1992


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 9 Oct 1992 17:12:01 EDT
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The large bibliography I mentioned is all contemporary periodicals, except
for an autobiography (title unremembered) by Pat Loud and (I think) some
things in Alan Rosenthal's recent anthology (which I can't lay my hands on
at the moment).
Jay Ruby <V5293E@TEMPLEVM> of Temple's Anthropology Dept. might know a
longer bibliography of material on AN AMERICAN FAMILY.
MTV's attempt a staged documentary (REAL WORLD?) carried the idea of
AN AMERICAN FAMILY a step further, and was honest about having cast the
piece.  That both were uninteresting was due to the ambiguity of being
"on stage" while trying to live one's life.  And the ambiguity of dual
motivations: the producer's for "reality" and the players who saw the
project as an opportunity to gain some celebrity.
There is nothing inherently interesting or uninteresting in people's lives.
The problms arise when ordinary, untrained people try to be performers
At the same time some of the most riveting footage, unmatched by anything a
performer could do, comes from moments in people's lives.  The "special value
of the spontaneous gesture" was the phrase used by Grierson to describe this
quality.  One example from the direct cinema era that started in 1960:
Even ordinary people, doing ordinary things could be endlessly fascinating
on the screen if they are not "acting" and the filmmakers are willing to
let actuality alone, rather than look for the "dramatic moments."  Caesar
Zavattini, screenwriter of most of the neorealist films following 1945 had
the idea that one could make an interesting two hour film could be made from
two hours in the life of a housemaid.
Cal Pryluck                               <[log in to unmask]>
Dept of Radio-Television-Film             <PRYLUCK@TEMPLEVM>
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122                    voice (215) 247-9663