The Spaces Between: Documentary Distribution and Exhibition as Counterpublics

Ezra Winton (ezra@ezrawinton.com)
Communication Studies, Concordia Unviersity
August, 2007
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Ezra Winton is interested in the power of cinema to move mountains (of people into action). He is currently pursuing a PhD in Communication Studies at Carleton University where he is focused on network philosophy, documentary film and radical pedagogy. He has made documentaries, starred in them, curated and theorized them, and hopes one day to teach them. Ezra created Cinema Politica in 2001, a pan-Canadian network of political documentary screening sites that has over 30 locals in Canada with five in Europe and another in Brazil. Recent publications include articles in POV Magazine, chapters in The Challenge for Change Reader and Mediascapes, an undergraduate textbook for Communication students.
 

Abstract

Documentary cinema has emerged as an important focus for research into popular culture, marginalized narratives, and democratic media. However, academic work on the genre has been narrowly focused on audience consumption habits, aesthetic or textual analyses of individual works, and cultural analyses of the intersection of documentary and mainstream commercial cinema sites and practices. This thesis is an attempt to bridge a research gap by interrogating extra-textual elements around the grassroots distribution and exhibition of documentary cinema in Canada. By linking the concepts of cultural hegemony, counterpublics and agonostic pluralism with community-oriented practices around documentary distribution and exhibition, this thesis urges a closer look at the spaces between box office numbers, high profile documentaries, and megaplexes. First hand interviews with filmmakers, promoters, exhibitors and distributors – from director Mark Achbar (The Corporation) to the manager of Montreal’s AMC Forum – tease out the relationship between documentary cinema and counterpublics in Canada.
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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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