Comparative Analysis of the Documentaries I Am Not Your Negro (2016) and Waltz with Bashir (2008). For this paper, I am requiring that you conduct research and find “two” credible critical articles/essays (other than the two assigned) and/or reviews that “seriously” tackle the issues addressed in the films. I Am Not Your Negro and Bashir are very controversial and widely discussed films, so there should be no shortage of good sources. That said; I don’t want you to cite blogs and you will be marked down for doing so. Look for reviews and articles from major journalistic sources, as well as film journals like Cinema Journal, Film Quarterly, and Film Comment. Online sources are fine, but make sure to find credible ones. I cannot stress this enough! Make sure to also use the assigned essay as a resource (see below):
—Hilton Als, “Fade to Black,” in The New Yorker. 2/13/2017, Vol. 93 Issue 1, p84-88.
—Garrett Stewart, “Screen Memory in Waltz With Bashir,” in Film Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 3 (Spring 2010), pp. 58-62
Both documentaries have been hailed as narratively and aesthetically innovative. Describe how they are unique. What methods/strategies do they utilize to tell their stories? In what manner do they deviate from most documentaries? Are there similarities between them and in what ways do they differ? I want you to consider the films both narratively and visually.
Themes to consider: Should the films be regarded as personal reflections on an individual’s experience (of American racism, or war), or should they be regarded as political propaganda? What is Baldwin attempting to articulate in I Am Not Your Negro? Are there connections that can be made between his observations and our current socio-political and cultural realities? In Bashir, how do the portrayals of soldiers and military life differ from those we see in the U.S.? Are American soldiers depicted as passive, traumatized, or with fractured memories? Is Bashir a reflection of an entire nation’s attitudes about the Lebanon War (reflective of a cultural consciousness)—or is it simply an exploration into the traumatic effects that war has on young men? How do both films revisit the past, as a means to contemplate on the present?
I want you to critically explore each film’s politics, but also don’t forget to view them as works of art. What do they look like? How are they filmed? Be sure to ground your analysis in a precise physical account of the work/s in question. While you are being asked to conduct research, I still want to see personal observation and opinion. The sources should be utilized to reinforce and support your argument/s. I want you to personally reflect on the films. How did they make you feel? Were you angered by them? Tell me what "you" think!
How to access the films:
I Am Not Your Negro was screened during class, but it is also available for viewing on Kanopy via the McHenry Library. https://ucsc.kanopy.com/
A DVD copy of Waltz With Bashir is on reserve at Media Services in the McHenry Library (ground floor), though we will also view it during class.
As a general rule, always write your paper as if your reader knows nothing about the subject matter. While you are being asked to personally respond to the subject matter, you should also spend some time offering a brief summary as well (of the assigned readings)—and always be very thorough and explicit as you summarize the material. For example, start your paper by listing the full name of the director and give some biographical data. When you reference an essay, list its full title, as well as the author/s full name. You may also want to look up the author/s and list their professional title and/or institutional affiliation if applicable—as well as some info on the author’s biography and overall body of work. The title of a book should be italicized and individual chapters should be in quotes. Again, if you refer to artworks/film, be sure to italicize the titles, write the artist/director’s full name, and list the date it was made.
Make sure the sources you choose are credible (and not Wikipedia). Again, websites are acceptable for this assignment, but make sure they are legitimate sources (and not blogs). Major newspapers and online periodicals like film journals, The New York Times, NY Magazine and The New Yorker are fine. If you are unclear about the legitimacy of a website, feel free to contact me. Before you begin writing, do a library search to see if there are any academic sources available. Wikipedia is not considered a citable source, so avoid it. There is nothing wrong with gathering general information from Wikipedia, but there are often major inaccuracies, so do not cite it or rely on it in an official way.