Experimental documentary: Practice and lineage
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"Experimental documentary" is a term that is being used with greater frequency to describe non-fiction films and videos that do not match the traditional ideas and descriptions of either documentary or experimental filmmaking. But what exactly does "experimental documentary" mean? The term lacks a widely agreed upon definition and does not have an easily identifiable history. Is "experimental documentary" a genre or category of its own? If not, is it a sub-genre? If it is a sub-genre, is it a sub-genre of the documentary tradition or the experimental film tradition? This thesis will explore the idea of an experimental documentary, mine the histories of both experimental and documentary traditions, and reflect on its relationship to both traditions to see if "experimental documentary" is in fact its own genre or merely a sub-genre understood to catch otherwise difficult to categorize non-fiction cinematic works. The thesis will also trace a lineage of works that seem to fit an understanding of "experimental documentary" in hopes of identifying the form's history and origins. Finally, this thesis, written from the point-of-view of a filmmaker whose work has been labeled "experimental documentary", will consider the practice of labeling and defining creative productions and explore the benefits and problems of doing so.