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Voices, Bodies, and Power in the Documentary Interview

Dirstaru, Elena (2020) Voices, Bodies, and Power in the Documentary Interview. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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After almost 30 years of silence, there is a rising interest in Romania in the voices of those who were victimised by the communist regime. Voices of Romanian women are still not centred in discussions of communism or post-communist trauma. Despite the fact that women are contributing to the history of communism through interviews, writing, or speaking, their voices rarely receive the same level of attention as their male counterparts. If they are to be accepted in mainstream discourse, their voices must be represented in an authoritative manner. The aim of this study is to determine how documentary filmmakers can aurally and visually optimise their interviews with victims of trauma in order to maximise the authority of the interviewees. How can I as a filmmaker help elevate the voices of female former political prisoners of the defunct Romanian communist regime through a film? Primarily using film theory and oral history, this study explores the necessary aural and visual conditions that a documentary interview needs to fulfil in order to authorise the interviewees’ voices. I test these conditions while making an interview-led documentary film that focuses on two women who were political prisoners. The film shows that different styles of filmmaking can influence the clarity and focus of different sections within the same interview. This finding indicates that filmmakers must be cautious and make informed decisions about the representation of interviewees. Interviews can be the primary means of speaking about individual or national trauma to a wide audience and filmmakers take responsibility for representing such stories in authorising ways. While documentary interviews have helped elevate unheard voices for decades, further research could be undertaken to define clear ways to conduct a documentary interview that contributes to the process of reparations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elena Dirstaru
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2020 09:27
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2020 09:27

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