Jean Rouch should definitely be mentioned, especially Les Maitres Fous,
Jaguar, and Chronicle of a Summer - as he influenced Godard and the French
New Wave. The unavailability of his films in the U.S. has eased in recent
months due to institutional DVD copies being made available through Icarus.

Much ethnographic film from various eras would apply: The Ax Fight
(self-reflexivity) and To Live With Herds (observational cinema landmark)
come to mind, as does Mead and Bateson's groundbreaking work like Trance
and Dance in Bali. Also Robert Gardner's Forest of Bliss and Lucien
Taylor's and Verena Paravel's recent Leviathan (for ideas of "sensory

Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason, for ideas of changing representation of
black and LGBT cultures and figures in documentary. Of course, Black Audio
Film Collective's Handsworth Songs and everything by Marlon Riggs.

Further away from experimental here, but an argument could be made for This
Is Spinal Tap as a pivotal work of "fake documentary," with influence far
beyond comedy/fiction.

Definitively unavailable, and completely pivotal: An American Family.

Andy Ditzler
Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, Emory University

On Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 6:19 PM, David Tetzlaff <> wrote:

> I'm looking to help a friend do research on the history of documentary,
> and I'd like to introduce him to some of the more experimental side of the
> form. For his purposes, the work needs to available on video: he needs to
> see stuff, not just read about it, and he needs to be able to pull decent
> quality clips for presentation. So I'm not looking for more purely
> experimental films that have some actuality footage, but something more
> readily recognizable under a (very) broad rubric of 'documentary'.
> Something like "Sonic Outlaws' or "Odds of Recovery" would be pretty
> central examples. About as far down the experimental scale I'd want to get
> would be such films as "Window Water Baby Moving" or "Sink or Swim." (Thus,
> for example, "Thigh Line Lyre Triangular" is too 'far out' for this
> purpose.) I'd also welcome suggestions for essay-form docs beyond Marker
> (which I've already got). Another example of such might be Mulvey's 'Frida
> Kahlo / Tina Modotti"
> With those loose guidelines, feel free to recommend away without worrying
> too much about the 'fit'. I can/will edit the recs I pass on...
> TIA!
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