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Autobiography, essay and Cambridge filmmaking: the documentaries of Ross McElwee

Grant number: 15/02194-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2015
Effective date (End): February 29, 2016
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Arts - Cinema
Principal Investigator:Fernão Vitor Pessoa de Almeida Ramos
Grantee:Gabriel Kitofi Tonelo
Supervisor: Ross McElwee
Host Institution: Instituto de Artes (IA). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Harvard University, Cambridge, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:13/08742-6 - Between autobiography and the Essay Film: the Documentaries of Ross McElwee, BP.DR


This project aims to carry out a Research Internship in the United States, for a period of six months, in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). This Internship is linked to the PhD research "Between Autobiography and the Film-Essay: The Documentaries of Ross McElwee" held in Brazil. This appointment is expected to deepen and expand our understanding of issues regarding the Autobiographical development in Documentary Film as well as the notions of the Essay Film, having filmmaker Ross McElwee's work as the main object of analysis. McElwee is a director with a solid documentary production beginning in the 1970s and one of the main representatives of the American Autobiographical Documentary. The specificity of McElwee's career lies in the fact that his eight last documentaries have dominant autobiographical aspects and that this autobiographical project is complemented to the release of each of his new films, in a movement that has gone on for more than thirty years. Ross McElwee's work relates to a group of filmmakers that was based in the city of Cambridge, and whose importance lies in the manner in which they introduced innovations to an Autobiographical approach in Documentary Film. In addition to Ross McElwee, filmmakers such as Ed Pincus, Robb Moss and Alfred Guzzetti are part of this phenomenon, which began in the late 1960s at MIT's film department (MIT Film Section). Many of these filmmakers/professors are now concentrated in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. This relationship between Cambridge filmmakers and the development of Autobiographical Documentary, as well as the work of the main representative of this group, Ross McElwee, was still little explored in Brazilian bibliography. It is important to note that the relationship between autobiography and documentary is a relevant phenomenon in the contemporary production. This approach has also a significant reflection in current Brazilian Documentary Film and it is a constant subject of papers and articles in the country's film studies nowadays. Thus, this research stage aims to deepen our analysis regarding a production that, if substantially explored, could contribute to the further development of issues that are at the heart of the debates going on in Brazilian Film Studies. The Research Internship at Harvard University would allow direct contact with many of these filmmakers who are part of the history of American Autobiographical Documentary, and who are professors at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. This is the case of the very object of this research, Prof. Ross McElwee, as well as Professors Robb Moss and Alfred Guzzetti. Thus, there is the possibility of obtaining primary data by conducting interviews with Prof. Ross McElwee as well as with other VES professors. In addition, Harvard University hosts virtually every material published on the work of Ross McElwee (books, papers and newspaper articles), many of which are not available in other research centers. The University is likewise home to institutions such as the Harvard Film Archive (HFA), which contains a significant number of important films for the research that is being carried out and that still could not be watched, such as the complete work of Ed Pincus; unreleased films of Ross McElwee, Robb Moss and Alfred Guzzetti. Thus, this research internship contribute to quality of the research on two fronts. One of them concerns the possibility of a direct contact with the director whose work is being analyzed, Ross McElwee, as well as with other important filmmakers to the theoretical universe with which we are dealing. The other one regards the achievement of bibliographic and filmographic material in institutions housed by Harvard University, such as the Harvard Film Archive and the Widener Library, whose viewing would significantly contribute to the analytical depth of the thesis. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
CHAVES, RENAN PAIVA; TONELO, GABRIEL KITOFI; WILLIAMS, DEANE MARTIN. Essie Coffey's My Survival as an Aboriginal (1978) and My life as I live it (1993): autobiographical documentary and the socio-political struggle of an Aboriginal, Black woman. STUDIES IN DOCUMENTARY FILM, v. 14, n. 3, p. 228-245, . (17/03799-0, 18/12740-2, 16/14286-1, 15/02194-2)

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