Sarajevo: Shelved Memories - A Practical Enquiry into the Rhetoric of Docudrama

Authors: Loader, R.-M.

Editors: supervised by Paget, D. and Gibbs, J.

Conference: The University of Reading, Department of Film, Theatre and Television


As the written component to a practical PhD, the arguments contained in this thesis developed out of a direct engagement with the practical processes of producing a film that represents the traumatic experiences of actual people. The main aim of the thesis is to explore alternative approaches to the docudramatic genre by problematising major dilemmas involved with the production of ‘real’ images. Consequently, established conventions as well as theoretical arguments related to docudrama are investigated in a way that seeks to broaden the concept of what constitutes ‘representing the real’. In this regard, the notion that docudrama has the ability to ‘bridge’ gaps in historical experience, is explored by problematising the view that docudrama represents events through realistic codes and conventions only. I do so by considering inter alia ethical ambiguities that often remain unacknowledged during the documentation of real events. This is motivated by what Andrew Britton terms the ‘documentary effect’, which shows that documentary production uses methods of creating images similar to those of fiction. With this in mind, the thesis builds on what Linda Hutcheon calls ‘historiographic metafiction’ in that it argues for the validity of images that historicise the past by drawing attention to the constructed nature of historical representations of any kind. Interpretive recreation is therefore placed at the centre of my research in order to explore the possibilities of investigating the past. This investigation is conducted by means of particular consideration of the dynamics involved with remembering traumatic events. Human response (that is, human emotion) is therefore highlighted in the process of examining the subjective dimension as a legitimate form of historical representation. The notion of aesthetic fragmentation thus forms a key element of the project. Based on a number of Brechtian theories and ‘post-modern’ strategies such as ‘hyperfiction’ and ‘transfiction’, the value of self-reflexively representing memory is proposed. As the memory of the past is shown to be distinctively fragmented, yet no less ‘authentic’, the re-presented historical space is placed under particular scrutiny. Ultimately, my thesis presents a view that blends various kinds of spaces, pointing towards the possibilities of a form that combines so-called objective modes (documentary) with subjective experience (memory) to create a docudramatic perspective that could more effectively offer an ethical portrayal of the past. This I term documemory.

Source: Manual