Emergency cinema in Syria : (re)envisioning documentary-as-witness
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By contrasting the uses of image-as-evidence and documentary-as-witness, this report challenges some of the maxims of documentary film studies and exposes the ways in which different forms of audiovisual media construct distant conflict. More specifically, the report analyzes a purposive case selection of videos/films related to the Syrian uprising: the first set of visual data includes a montage of 13 YouTube videos claiming to show the aftereffects of the 21 August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria; the visual analysis in section two centers upon a selection of 15 short documentary films produced by the Syrian Abounaddara Collective. Theoretically, the study advances the value of witnessing in the re-envisioning of documentary film. My research demonstrates the relative weakness of both legalistic and journalistic approaches to depicting war that treat visual material primarily as recorded fact or evidence. In its place, the report advances a new form of documentary with a higher degree of interpretive acumen based on the "emergency cinema" model developed in Syria -- what I term "documentary-as-witness."