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Documentary and autobiography under the risk of time: to film oneself being

Grant number: 18/12740-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2018
Effective date (End): October 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Arts
Principal Investigator:Henri Pierre Arraes de Alencar Gervaiseau
Grantee:Gabriel Kitofi Tonelo
Home Institution: Escola de Comunicações e Artes (ECA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This text presents a research project focused on the issue of temporality in autobiographical documentary narratives. In view of the ontological particularities of cinematic images and the processes of filmic construction, documentary film presented perspectives for the autobiographical act in previously unexplored and inaccessible materialities. Among them, the issue of portraying "time" was presented as one of the main points of instigation of several autobiographical documentaries. The study of temporality in autobiographical narratives concedes conceptual consolidation regarding this subgenre, in continuity to the historical and theoretical analysis developed in our doctoral research (process FAPESP 2013 / 08742-6). In autobiographical documentaries, the narrative management of temporality reconfigured the representation of notions such as "past", "present" and "future" if in comparison to "life-writing" in other systems of expression, as literature. With a camera and a sound recorder in hands, how could one "film oneself being"? In contrast to the transposition of lived experience in the symbolic system of words and literary expression, could a director-autobiographer conduct a narrative "in present tense"? How do documentary narratives reconfigure the rescue of memory, being this an aspect so dear to autobiographical writing? In view of the indexical properties of cinema, how could documentaries crystallize lived experience as a manner of preserving it for the future? The analysis of such issues will be made from the consideration of five significative works of the genre, made by documentarians Ed Pincus, Jonas Mekas, Marlon Riggs, Tom Joslin and Ross McElwee.

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