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Conflict and Controversy in Small Cinemas


Edited By Janina Falkowska and Krzysztof Loska

This book examines small cinemas and their presentation of society in times of crisis and conflict from an interdisciplinary and intercultural point of view. The authors concentrate on economic, social and political challenges and point to new phenomena which have been exposed by film directors. They present essays on, among others, Basque cinema; gendered controversies in post-communist small cinemas in Slovakia and Czech Republic; ethnic stereotypes in the works of Polish filmmakers; stereotypical representation of women in Japanese avant-garde; post-communist political myths in Hungary; the separatist movements of Catalonia; people in diasporas and during migrations. In view of these timely topics, the book touches on the most serious social and political problems. The films discussed provide an excellent platform for enhancing debates on politics, gender, migration and new aesthetics in cinema at departments of history, sociology, literature and film.

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15. Mockumentary cinema and its political might: Self-reflexivity and carnivalesque in the films of Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen (Janina Falkowska)


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Janina Falkowska

Western Arts and Humanities, Canada, and University of Economics and Humanities in Bielsko-Biala, Poland

15. Mockumentary cinema and its political might: Self-reflexivity and carnivalesque in the films of Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen

Abstract: The topic of this chapter is “mockumentary” cinema. Called by Timothy Corrigan “essay films,” such documents “interpolate a subjective and investigative agency within the footage of media events from a variety of angles.” Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen make their films in the manner of mocku-documentary, each of them using their investigating personae to remake the news across “their own image and agency.” Eventually, they create politically powerful boisterous carnivalesque films far exceeding the effect of a mere presentation of fact. I am especially interested in the ways these films cross genre boundaries and emerge as a separate small cinema with its own choice of means, among which the narrator seems to play the most effective part in producing a powerful emotional response to this kind of film.

Keywords: Mockumentary, carnivalesque, Michael Moore, Sacha Baron Cohen, essay film

Small cinema is usually described as cinema of small nations or produced in small countries. However, we have observed cinemas defined by particular characteristics or formats emerging in one country or one geographical location and then spreading over continents, imitated and emulated by others elsewhere. French New Wave and the Dogma Movement are obvious such examples in fiction cinemas, while...

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