American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary (Hardcover)

The Cambridge Turn

By Scott MacDonald

University of California Press, 9780520275614, 424pp.

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (6/4/2013)

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American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary is a critical history of American filmmakers crucial to the development of ethnographic film and personal documentary. The Boston and Cambridge area is notable for nurturing these approaches to documentary film via institutions such as the MIT Film Section and the Film Study Center, the Carpenter Center and the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard. Scott MacDonald uses pragmatism’s focus on empirical experience as a basis for measuring the groundbreaking achievements of such influential filmmakers as John Marshall, Robert Gardner, Timothy Asch, Ed Pincus, Miriam Weinstein, Alfred Guzzetti, Ross McElwee, Robb Moss, Nina Davenport, Steve Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, Michel Negroponte, John Gianvito, Alexander Olch, Amie Siegel, Ilisa Barbash, and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. By exploring the cinematic, personal, and professional relationships between these accomplished filmmakers, MacDonald shows how a pioneering, engaged, and uniquely cosmopolitan approach to documentary developed over the past half century.

About the Author

Scott MacDonald teaches film history at Hamilton College and Harvard University and in 2011 was named an Academy Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is the author of many books for UC Press, most recently Adventures in Perception: Cinema as Exploration (2009).

Praise For American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn

"Inestimable addition to the film-studies canon." 10 Best Film-Studies Books of 2013.

— Clayton Dillard

"Intimacy is rarely a word connected to published academic work, and yet I can't think of a better word to distinguish MacDonald's thoroughly researched and rigorously annotated tome from all previous books I've reviewed on these pages."

— Cynthia Close

"This book does justice to a significant and extensive body of documentary filmmaking."

— Critical Inquiry

"MacDonald’s connection between the ethnographic and the personal documentary is a fitting and eloquent book topic that draws attention to the blurring of lines between filmic categories and styles."

— Jump Cut