Roots, rocks and (seder) rolls: A self study of documentary practice
Goldman, Ruth B.
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Although behind the scenes features and interviews with directors are often included on DVDs, few directors really pause to explore their own motivations, biases, strengths and vested interests in making a film on a particular topic. This ethnographic narrative attempts to do just that by exploring each aspect of my practice in making the documentary, And These Are Jews. In the film, personal stories, archival footage and photos combine to focus on Cincinnati, Ohio's German Jewish community. And These Are Jews highlights issues of prejudice, assimilation and the complex history of the Reform Jewish movement and Jewish-American identity. I entered this film with a much different idea of its outcome; by unpacking my journey in creating And These Are Jews, I illustrate the ways in which subtle issues of ethics, historiography, research and aesthetics can affect the content, structure, accessibility and reception of a documentary film. Confronting such challenges in my practice ultimately led to a more complex approach and more diversified themes. It also allowed for a strong and positive relationship with my interviewees and provided a great opportunity to expand my knowledge base as well at to confront my own prejudices and assumptions.