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The Alterity of the Image: the Distant Spectator and Films about the Syrian Revolution and War

Chaudhuri, Shohini (2018) 'The Alterity of the Image: the Distant Spectator and Films about the Syrian Revolution and War.' Transnational Cinemas, 9 (1). 46 - 46. ISSN 2040-3526

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Abstract

Images of the Syrian crisis, circulating on the international film festival circuit as well as in mainstream and social media, help to construct narratives about those events, people and places. This article explores how three Syrian documentaries – Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait, The War Show and Little Gandhi – appeal to their distant spectators and how the international film festival circuit shapes their aesthetic form. While the use of citizen videos in news reporting has generated a sense of familiarity with the audio-visual style and iconography of Syrian conflict imagery, these films invite us to look at their footage in a different way, foregrounding an experience of cultural distance through an emphasis on the formal qualities of the image. By focusing on the aesthetic rather than merely evidentiary qualities of these documentaries, I draw out a particular kind of transnational cinematic encounter in which, to borrow John Berger’s words, ‘meaning is a response not only to the known, but to the unknown’. Drawing upon the work of Berger and Laura Marks, the article offers a new conceptualization of distant spectatorship in terms of the alterity of the image.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Distant spectator, Syrian uprising, Syrian documentary, Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait, The War Show, Little Gandhi
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2018 15:36
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2020 11:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21823

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