Watching the World

Screen documentary and audiences

By Thomas Austin

Watching the World


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8558-1
  • Pages: 220
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £12.99
  • Published Date: June 2012
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Films, cinema, Documentary films, PERFORMING ARTS / Film / Genres / Documentary, The arts / Documentary films


Screen documentary has experienced a marked rise in visibility and popularity in recent years. What are the reasons for the so-called 'boom' in documentaries at the cinema? How has television documentary met the challenge of new formats? And how do audiences engage with documentaries on screen? Watching the world extends the reach of documentary studies by investigating recent instances of screen documentary and the uses made of them by audiences. The book focuses on the interfaces between textual mechanisms, promotional tactics, and audiences' viewing strategies. Key topics of inquiry are: film and televisual form, truth claims and issues of trust, the pleasures, politics and the ethics of documentary. Case studies include Capturing the Friedmans, Être et Avoir, Paradise Lost, Touching the Void, and wildlife documentaries on television. This compelling and accessible book will be of interest to both students and fans of documentary.


1 Continuity and change: the documentary 'boom'
2 Seeing, feeling, knowing: Etre et Avoir
3 'Suspense, fright, emotion, happy ending': documentary form and audience response to Touching the Void
4 'The most confusing tears': home video, sex crime, and indeterminacy in Capturing the Friedmans
5 Approaching the invisible centre: middle-class identity and documentary film
6 'Our planet reveals its secrets': wildlife documentaries on television
7 Conclusion: Documentary world views


Thomas Austin is Senior Lecturer in Media and Film at the University of Sussex.

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