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Documentary Attunements: From Voice to Audibility

Monday, February 19, 2018
5:00 p.m.
Humanities Center, Room D

http://humanities.lib.rochester.edu/onfilm/documentary-attunements-from-voice-to-audibility-spring-2018/

Presenting a lecture by Pooja Rangan, Assistant Professor of English and Film and Media Studies at Amherst College, followed by a light dinner in the Humanities Center, and a rare 16mm screening of Goodbye CP (1972) organized by On Film. Free and open to the public.

In the field of documentary, voice, rather than point of view, is the prevailing metaphor for a film’s unique perspective, signaling the documentary genre’s textual emphasis on spoken words, as well as its social ethic of “giving voice.” Pooja Rangan’s talk will unpack the humanitarian resonances of this metaphor, as elaborated in her book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (2017, Duke University Press). Rangan reframes voice as an audibility: a product of auditory forms and practices such as documentary that discipline unspoken norms of speaking and listening. Her talk places documentary depictions of autistic protagonists and call center agents in conversation, asking how the resonances among disability and postcoloniality might attune us to the complex mediations of difference involved in the production and reception of documentary voices.

Pooja Rangan is Assistant Professor of English and Film and Media Studies at Amherst College. She is the author of Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary, and numerous articles in journals including Feminist Media Histories, Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, World Picture, and differences. Rangan also serves on the board of the Flaherty Film Seminar, and is co-editor, with Genevieve Yue, of a new special issue of the journal Discourse on “Documentary Audibilities.”

Goodbye CP / Sayonara CP (Kazuo Hara, 1972, 82 min., 16mm)

The first film by director Kazuo Hara and producer Sachiko Kobayashi’s Shisso Productions, Goodbye CPresults from their pact with a group of activist men with cerebral palsy called the Kanagawa Green Grasses: they throw off all supports of society that render them invisible to rally in the streets of Tokyo against their mistreatment, and he keeps filming no matter what. A shy cameraman alienated by the collectivist politics of the 1960s student movement, Hara’s first film created a model he’d follow for later canonical titles such as The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987), following protagonists pushing through public/private boundaries and upending conventions of documentary ethics to challenge the buried violence of colonized subjectivities. In non-sync black and white, Goodbye CP accesses that political provocation in stark terms, questioning its own medium and the terms of solidarity it’s built upon. Two outspoken disability rights activists, the poet Hiroshi Yokota and photographer Koichi Yokotsuka, challenge the status of the camera as object and documentary tool, and the human voice’s dependence upon it.

Attendees are encouraged to read the introductory chapter to Rangan’s book Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary, provided here as a downloadable PDF.

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Poster by Adam Maida

documentary attunements