For my final, I decided to make a documentary on adoption. I wanted people who have never considered adoption as an option, to see this video and hopefully be swayed to look at adoption differently. For this project, I applied both the expository mode as well as the performative mode to provide an insight on how adoption has changed people’s lives.

In my short documentary on adoption, I wanted to implement the Expository Mode. According to Bill Nichols in, Introduction to documentary, expository mode addresses the viewer directly with titles or voices that tell a story, or advance an argument. This mode combines four elements; Indexical images or reality, poetic affective association, story telling qualities, and rhetorical persuasiveness. When editing this film, I made sure it maintained the continuity of the spoken argument rather than simply focusing on the rhythm or formal pattern. I organized the images to go along with the spoken so they can serve as captions.

This documentary also uses a bit of the performative mode. This mode is more about the about the relationship between the film maker and the subject. For example, the film, “The Gleaners and I” focuses on the emotional complexity. There is a much stronger emphasis on the emotional complexity of experience, from the perspective of the film maker. Performative mode, stresses the tone and mood, more so than arguments and evidence. It also calls for emotional responsiveness to acknowledge a topic rather that to gain knowledge from it. In class we watched the film, Housing Problems. This film is a great example of this mode because the film maker is set out to help the audience feel something for the people living in terrible housing conditions. The film maker wanted to emphasize the feeling of how it feels to live in a place like that. Performative mode is about getting the audience to walk a mile in the subject’s shoes. It is a very personal film to the film maker. Another example of this mode would be, Surname Veit Given Name Nam (1989). In this film, the director relies on interviews with woman in Vietnam who describe the oppressive conditions they have faced since the end of the war. Half way through the film, we discover that these interviews were staged in order to get swayed into the film makers perspective. Reflexive documentary sets out to readjust the assumptions and expectations of its audience more than to add new knowledge to existing categories.

While creating my video I decided to use a Rhetorical Voice to persuade my audience. I wanted to set out and provide a perspective on adoption so that people wouldn’t see it as a last resort but rather as an opportunity to create a family that you could love just as much as if you were biologically related. The rhetorical voice uses perspective to address those aspects of the world that do not lend themselves to scientific proof. In my video, I used personal adoption stories to influence my audience on the positive effects and blessings adoption brings to the lives of the children as well as the parents. The rhetorical voice seeks to inspire belief or install conviction about a specific viewpoint. An example of a film we saw in class with a rhetorical voice was, Harvest of Shame. This film was about the living conditions of crop pickers. The documentary was intended to call attention to the government on the living condition of the migrant workers. The film consisted of several interviews with migrant workers where they give their perspective on how they live.

Bill Nichols refers to invention as the discovery of evidence, or proofs in support of a position or argument. When working with a rhetorical documentary film the film maker uses social conventions rather than the scientific method to make a statement. Aristotle proposed two types of evidence. They correspond to the division between reference to the facts of the matter-inartistic or no artificial proofs.

Inartistic proofs include facts that lie beyond dispute. But bear in mind that the interpretation of this factual evidence may be very much in dispute, as any courtroom trail will demonstrate. Some examples of inartistic proof would be having witnesses, documents, photographs, archival footage, confessions, and physical evidence.

On the other hand, artistically or artificial evidence or proof rely on rhetorical techniques to generate the impression of conclusiveness or proof. Artistic Evidence consists of ethos, pathos, and logos to strive to convince us of an argument or perspective’s validity. Ethos is the appeal to credible or ethical proof. This generates an impression of good moral character or credibility for the film maker, witnesses, authorities, and others. Pathos is the appeal to feelings of the audience. Pathos focuses on compelling emotion to produce the desired effect. It puts the audience in the right mood or establishing frame of mind more favorable to a particular view point. Pathos uses emotion rather than logic. Last but not least, is Logos. When using Logos an argumental proof, the film director focuses on real or apparent reasoning by providing or giving the impression of proving, the case.

Models used in my film were advocacy and promotion of a cause. The documentary was stress convincing and had compelling examples; that urged a specific point of view on adoption. I edited my documentary to focus on the beauty of adoption in order to convince viewers to consider adoption as a primary option.

My video also contained several testimonials. In these testimonials, I had witnesses who recounted their personal experience being adopted or adopting a child. I wanted the parents to talk about the hardships but more than anything talks about the blessing that came after they adopted their child. I ended the documentary with Angelica talking about what adoption means to her. Since she was adopted and can now look back at how wonderful her life has been, she gets emotional talking about how her adoptive parents gave more than she could have ever asked for.

Another model I included into my video was Individual or group profile/biography. I had two families share their story of how they decided to adopt a child at their stage of life. I also had a girl who had been adopted share with us her experience of growing up in a household where she was physically different. These testimonials recount the story of these people’s maturation and distinctiveness. An example of this mode can be seen in the film, The Gleaners. In this film, we see people talking about their experience as a gleaner and how different their life is in compared to other people. The things they share are personal and impacting.

One of the most important models of my video was documentary voices. I wanted my documentary to flow with different voices going towards the same direction. I edited my video in a way in which all you hear are all these different voices sharing their testimony on how adoption changed their life. I wanted my documentary to be an eye opener to people who have never considered adoption.

My documentary on adoption’s primary goal was to touch people’s hearts and hopefully change their perspective on adoption. I used the expository mode as well as the performative mode to expose testimonials of people effected by adoption as well as help me voice my own opinion on the topic.



Doc Mode Activity 3


For my Doc Mode activity, I decided to implement the autobiographical model. According to Nichols in Introduction to Documentary, the autobiographical model is a personal account of someone’s experience, maturation, or outlook on life. I wanted to focus on my personal experience being a Mexican-American. As I’ve grown older I’ve been reflecting on my cultural identity more and more especially after marring Caucasian. Ever since I settled down her in Utah with my husband I’ve found myself missing more than just my family, but my culture back home. Although I was born here in the states, the Mexican population is very big in San Diego. I had gotten very custom to all these traditional Mexican things without noticing. I wanted this documentary to be like an outspoken diary of things I’ve been meditating for a while. Although it was more for myself, I realized that I have a message that needs to be heard among another Mexican American’s like me. I can definitely see how much I’ve matured and how longing I am to embrace my culture more than ever. Autobiographical docs are about honesty, and that is exactly how I felt as I filmed myself. At one point, I even got emotional. My autobiographical doc had characteristics of both the lyrical poem and the personal essay. I used images to lyrically display the past in an emotional way. The music in the background was also used to express my emotion on this topic.

An example of an autobiographical documentary is the film Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter. This film is about an aging mother with Alzheimer’s. The film maker uses interviews to of the mother as well as recodings of her phone calls to document her memory loss. The daughter of this woman shares her personal experience of watching her mother forget who she is. This film is very personal to the daughter and the music in the background makes it very emotional to watch.

This vlog is also an example of autobiographical because the girl in this video is documenting her experience with cancer. She gets very personal when she talks about her fears of dying, but at the same time you see how her outake on life. I’ve watched all her videos and I’ve come to see how she has matured as the cancer worsens.




Online response 5

Respond to Politics & the Nation State

In class, we’ve been focusing on imagined communities and how many documentaries have become a tool for unleashing nationalism and identity politics. Some documentaries shine light on specific issues and as more and more people get informed, it becomes a national problem.  Communities form as identities are discovered and politics are forced to intervene.

In the book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson discusses how nationalism, is made up of cultural artifacts, that can only be understood when considering how they have come into historical being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today, they command profound emotional legitimacy (48). Documentary is a big part of nationalism because most times when a film maker goes out to shoot a story, they do it with the intention of giving a voice to the voiceless. They want the viewers to acquire a new perspective so that something could eventually be done.

In chapter eight of Bill Nichols’, Introduction to Documentary, he talks about how documentary is used as a tool to introduce ethics of social concern. Housing Problems (1935), for example, gave citizens from the slums the opportunity to speak for themselves about their living conditions, in hopes that someone would agree and do something about it. Harvest of Shame (1960) was another documentary that focused of the living conditions of migrant workers. This film used footage and testimonials to set the stage for politics of charitable benevolence. Both of these films highlight national problems that need to be addressed by government officials.

According to Anderson, “It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion” (49). In this quote, Anderson is trying to express the idea of creating a conceptual nation. In other word’s he is reminding us how nations are imaginatively projected before they are realized.  It is a connection between culture and psychology. Nationalism begins when a country forms itself from imagination to something more concrete.

Benedict Anderson explained that nationalism is caused by the increase in literacy and the decline of specific languages, as well as the advancement of print technology. By creating a unified mode of communication, that was not Latin, there was an end to older forms of communities and a start to new form of communities. In today’s world, we have so many communities that that have formed outside of just language. We have communities that form because of identity politics.

The film Paris is Boring, is a good example of identity politics because it features African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities that are formed in order to create a society in which they can identify with one-other. In this documentary, we learn about several men who grow up feeling neglected because of their sexual orientation. Many were kicked out of their own home and rejected by their family. For this reason, they have created a community and home where they can feel free to express who they are and reside with others who share their common beliefs. Henceforth, an imagined community was created for these men once they realized that they had an identity and they were being prosecuted for it. Paris is Burning shines light on people who have been shunned by society because of their differences, and helps viewers see these people as a community that is simply trying to live their life the way they want.

Documentary is a medium that introduces national issues to the world, and brings marginal or invisible social identities to the light.



Doc Mode Activity #2

For the Doc Mode activity I decided to do my video on the performative mode. As the film maker, I wanted to set out to help the audience feel something towards how it feels to raise children in a new country. I really wanted the audience to walk a mile in my characters shoes. I chose to film my doc on a woman named Zabdi who immigrated from Mexico a couple years ago, and is now rising her four children in the United States. Zabdi got personal with the audience as she talked about how much holding on to her culture means to her. She goes around her house showing the audience certain things that she keeps as a reminder to her and her family of their Mexican heritage. She also talks about some traditions she try to keep alive with her children. For example, she talks about how she tries to celebrate Halloween the Mexican way as well as the American way. Zabdi also shares some of the popular foods she shares with her children just so they have a better understanding of what it means to be Mexican American.  As I was making this documentary, I treated knowledge as something affective and situated rathar than something obtained by books. I didn’t look up statistics or read articles about the topic, I simply asked someone who was going through it. Zabdi was the source of knowledge because she is sharing her personal experience. I wanted the sound of this film to rely heavily on testimonial. I just wanted my subject to share her story as I follow it with images. I really wanted this short documentary to be strongly personal, and I wanted to find the honest truth of what It feels like to know that a big part of your culture is disappearing. I wanted to capture Zabdi’s efforts in trying to keep her culture alive and how all of it makes her feel. When she talks about her children forgetting how to speak English, I inserted a short clip of her daughter speaking English to a little boy outside. This really shows how the child is adapting to a new language in order to benefit from it. Just like Zabdi had to learn English in order to adapt to the American culture, her children begin to speak more English in order to play with the other children.

The film, “The Gleaners and I,” is an example of this mode because of the emotional complexity and interaction with the filmmakers. The subject is sharing their personal experience with gleaning. Performative mode is all about discovering how it feels to experience the world in a particular way. It acknowledges the emotional and subjective aspects of a documentary and also addresses the audience emotionally.

Online response #4


According to Bill Nichols, the reflexive mode in documentary calls attention to the conventions of documentary filmmaking, as well as methodologies such as fieldwork or interview. The filmmaker engages with his audience and speaks about not only the historical world, but about the problems and issues of representing it. It is within the film that we see some of the filmmaking process as the filmmaker acknowledges his or her presents in the film, and serve as a narrator. In other words, the audience is shown the person behind the curtain.  An example of this is found in the film, “Man with a Movie Camera.” In the opening scene we see the camera man filming people riding in a carriage as he is riding a car along side of the carriage. We later see how the editor is  assembling the film strips together into the sequence we just saw. The fact that we see the clip being edited kind of deconstructs the impression we have on the reality of documentaries. Reflexive documentary invite us to see documentaries for what they are: a construct or representation, and not just 100 percent truth.They are about the relationship between the filmmaker and audience, rather than the relationship between the filmmaker and subject.

For example in this video called, “Stories We Tell” we see within the film a lot of behind the scenes that occurs as they are making a film. We see how the man doing the “Voice of God” has to cut and restart again. We also hear the questions being asked during the interview.  Documentaries can be very bias, and many times during an interview, things can be edited out and created to be misleading. For this reason the reflexive mode shows the audience the filmmaking process in order to move the viewers into a heightened form of consciousness. Documentaries can be reflexive  both in a formal or political perspective.  Reflexive documentaries make the audience more aware of the problems the film maker is facing as he is creating it. What makes them more truthful is that they focus on realism as they try and focus on how things happened without editing. The only problem is that as the film maker narrates this documentary he directs himself towards the audience and sways their opinions. An example of this could be seen in the movie, “F for Fake”. The director Orsen Wells uses this mode in attempt to convince viewers about the natures of authorship and the nature of fakery. The film showcases Wells, personality and creativity tries to convey bits and pieces of half-recovered truths. He sways viewers into believing certain things. In the beginning scene it shows camera men filming Olsen as he is playing a magic trick on a little boy. He does this in order to underline the main concept of trickery. The reflexive mode point us to us as viewers and social actors, as the agents who can bridge this gap between what exists and what might be.




Doc Mode Activity 1 Observational

For my doc mode activity I chose to film using the observational method. This mode requires me as the film maker to just sit back and observe the subject with an unobtrusive camera. In this case, my subject was a group of friends hanging out on a Friday night. I wanted to capture true interactions and reactions towards the activities they were involved in. By acting as the fly on the wall, I was able to observe how this group of friends joke with one another and tell personal stories. For example, there is a specific long shot in which the group of friends are about to start the show, and one guy starts mentioning his funny experience of how he was scared when he watched the first session by himself. This expirience made the rest of the group laugh, and it was perfect because it showed the natural relationship this group of young adults have with one another. You could also see the relationship these people have with one another by the way they sit. Some are cuddling with one another, indicating that they are a couple. Others lay across the couch demonstrating that they are in a comfortable environment. I filmed the surroundings to showcase how fanatic this group of friends are about the particular show they are watching. There are posters and things painted on the wall, specific food that they are eating, 80’s music playing in the background, and some of them appear to be dressed up in that era. My favorite part was their reactions while watching the show. For example, I was able to catch when their mouths would drop during a plot twist or climax There is no interview questions, no commentary, no narration. Simply observation.

About a month ago I worked on a political video that brakes every rule of observational mode.

This video is an example of an expository documentary because it aims to educate and explain a topic. In this film I wanted to get our community to understand what DACA is, and get them to defend it. I used production elements such as interviews, illustrative visuals, and a ‘voice of God’ narration track to connect the story elements with the argument. Unlike my observation doc, this doc required preparation and research.

Because cameras are not invisible, one cannot guarantee that the subject’s actions are typical of what they would normally be doing, however, observational mode can portray a more accurate representation of reality than any other form of documentary. In my observational doc, I used only diegetic sounds so that the audience rely solely on the images for the portal of reality instead of being manipulated by guiding voice overs. Observational documentaries like, the one shown below, portray a more accurate representation of reality because they are less likely to interfere with the subject.






Online Response 3

In class we were able to watch two documentary films which expose the living conditions of underprivileged people. Both films showcase the discrimination of social and economic status by using expository mode. This documentary mode consist of an objective voice intoned over footage, in order to get the film makers point across.

The film, “Harvest of Shame”, focused on addressing the viewers directly with titles or voices that tell the story and propose a perspective or advance an argument. The story moves forward as Edward R. Murrow, investigates and documents what he see’s in the form of a broadcast. Throughout the film, we hear the voices of migrant  workers talking about their experience picking crops for a living. On farmer said, “We used to own our slaves, but now we rent them.” As Murrow speaks out on behalf of the migrant workers and their living conditions, he becomes the voice of authority in this documentary. In Expository Documentary mode, this is known as, “voice of God.”

This film also utilizes the commentary by organizing the images like a written caption for a still image. For example there is a part in which Murrow visits a family in which the oldest son of only 9 years old is watching his younger siblings for many hours. Murrow asks the boy, “What are you going to feed your sisters?” and as the young boy responds that he doesn’t know, “The camera hovers over some nasty looking old food, and the audience automatically assumes that, the boy will feed that to his sisters.

In the film, “Born into Brothos,” Zana and Ross seek to spread awareness about the terrible living conditions in the red light community, and the discrimination schools and people have towards the children who come from these places. The film uses real time footage to show the things that occur in that place. For example, Zana shows footage of how the children are are tormented by their prostitute mothers and step fathers. Zana than shows contrasting visuals of the children happy playing with cameras, and then crying and getting beat by their parents. Zana does this in order to showcase how these how happy these children can be if they were out of the red light community. There was also another part in this film in which Zana took the children to the zoo. By putting images of the children followed by images of the animals in at the zoo, the filmmaker draws a parallel between these caged up animals and the children who are  are similarly trapped in the red-light district.

The editing of this film maintains the continuity of the spoken argument because we are more focused on what the narrator is saying rather than focusing on the rhythm and pattern. For example, the close up sad faces of the children along with the narration of heartbreaking incidents, fill the viewers with emotion. Zana uses a an appeal to pathos to set the tone of the story, and to make her more trust worthy to her audience, Zana obtains credibility with her willingness to live in the red light district. Zana becomes a voice of God as she reports about the inhuman living conditions these children are put through.

Both of these films use the expository mode to raise awareness about a social issues involving underprivileged people. They rely on the voice of authority and contrasting images to obtain credibility and get their message across.

Online Responce #2

In class we watch two films “The Act of Killing” and “Night and Fog”. Both films contained horrific and graphic descriptions of genocide that was once defended by government expectations, yet these two films differ in the sense that, The Act of Killing is showcasing the perspective of the killers. By getting to know these characters and seeing them recreate their actions, we become prone to developing more empathy for them despite their actions. On the other hand, “Night and Fog” simply states the facts and condemns the enemy, without being specific on who the enemy is.

“Night and Fog” by Phillip Lopate  is more sentimental as it focuses on the Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. This film really puts viewers into the mindset of someone actively trying to discover what happened inside those camps. The dry, detached tone of the  narrator and distancing music  causes the audience to view this film as if they were in a dream reflecting on the inhuman actions. The images shown in these film are disturbing as we see the jews being treated like animals. We see images showing waisted bodies and tortured prisoners. At the end of the film there is a question asking who is responsible for all of this?  As I watched this film, I wanted to simply blame the German solders and Hitler for what happened, but at the same time, this film makes everyone feel bad for not being able to do something about it while it was occurring. I found myself thinking, “How can humanity let things get this far?” When no one wants to take the blame for what happened at those concentration camps, the film director emphasis how everyone has a responsibility now to not forget what happened, and to be aware of how past events relate to the world around us today. In this film, the director is condemning everyone, and making us reflect on how it takes an entire nation to cause something as big as the Holocaust.

“The Act of Killing” by Joshua Oppenheimer documents an Indonesian gang who dedicated their entire lives to torture and murdered communist. The film director urges the members of this gang to recreate their murderous acts. Throughout the film we see how the aging death squad proudly declares how they preformed some of their horrific actions. They take the reenactment very seriously as they seek for actors, locations, costumes and makeup in order to make it look as realistic as possible. As the documentary follows these gang members around, we get a sense of disbelief in these characters past history. We see them as normal people who have families and average lives. Yet the gangsters begin to showcase their pride in their actions and their belief that they were preforming good actions for their government.  The documentary provides dream like visuals that alluded to the fact that for this group of gangsters, killing thousands of communist is honored as a patriotic act.

There is a specific scene where the gang is reenacting a killing scene and one of the members brings his own child to the set as an additional extra. The scene was so horrific that his child couldn’t stop crying after it was filmed. He kept telling her, “Stop crying, the scene is over, you don’t have to act anymore, good actors stop acting after the scene cut.” Clearly the audience could tell that his daughter wasn’t acting and that she was indeed frightened for her dear life.  This scene allows us to better understand the ignorance of these gangsters. We start to see how in their mindset, nothing they did was bad, but merrily a responsibility.

One of the older gang members named Anwar Cango, reveals near the end of the film how he is haunted by his acts and tries to forget about it by consuming drugs alcohol, and marijuana. While filming one of scenes in which he portraying the victim getting killed, he simply has a brake down and can’t continue with the scene. These shows us how Anwar is at a stage in his life were he has realized that what he did was wrong and he can no longer live with the guilt. As a viewer, I began to develop empathy for Anwar and understand that at the time he didn’t see his actions as something terrible.

According to Erik Barnouw, Before and throughout World War II, documentary, also known as “bugler” was used to showcase the means and methods of war. As the video shown above. They used these films as propaganda to help rally their troops into war and strike them with fear of their enemy. Just like the film, “The Act of killing,” the characters think they are creating a documentary to showcase themselves as heroes defending their government and getting rid of evil.

After the war however, it became a trend to mythologize war films. While the films did show the influence of war, they were a step back into fiction. Most war documentary mostly focused on trying to make sense of what happened. The documentaries focused on taking footage from other filmmakers and simply trying to piece it all together.  Just like the film, “Night and Fog”.






online response 1

Art and creativity in film is what has elevated cinema and introduced it to an international language. Back when film was still silent, film directors began to explore other possibilities of telling a story by making artistic choices rather than using words.

In class we had the opportunity to watch the film, “The Man with a Movie Camera”, This film was in part a documentary as well as cinematic art. What made it a documentary was the fact that it depicted scenes of ordinary daily life in Russia. This film also made an impact in it’s time because combining art with film was something very new to culture. “The Man with a Movie Camera” redefind the capacity of what film could bring. Dziga Vertof showed us how montage editing film could be used as a new way of telling a story. Vertof was able to compress time by controlling the tempo of his clips and accompany them with music. He could create an allusion of time staying still by incorporation freeze frames. Vertov elevated Avent-garde and made film limitless as he cought the attention of other types of artist. Many painters  began getting involved with cinema and they saw film as a pictorial art. With that in mind, they weren’t as interested in focusing on a plot or climax.  Vertov  didn’t stick to the traditional parallel story telling. Instead, he put all of his energy towards his creative editing and used it as the means of discovering the’ hidden messages’ of the film. Particularly in the film “the man with the movie camera”, Vertov shows a reoccurring shot of an eye looking through a lens,  in order to elaborate on the idea that the things his camera films are a depiction of the world he see’s and observes. The film also consisted of collision editing which gave multiple messages without having to be explained. For example, showing  the busy lives of people working in factories in contrast to people having fun at the beach gave us the unspoken message that one must have uninterrupted hard work in order to have fun and rest.

According to Barnouw, In the 1920’s painters, sculptures, musicians, writers, architects, and still photographers began joining cine-clubs. What these clubs eventually lead to was a collaboration of art forms. Just like Vertov used different editing stragities to imply a meaning, Fernand Leger and the American artist Dudley Murphy also implemented a specific sequence to their film, “Ballet Mecanique” in order to elaborate on a social topic. The sequence shows a cleaning woman climbing a flight of stairs, but when it appears that she has finally reached the top of the stairs, she is again seen at the bottom. This artistic choice suggested the degradation of repetitious labor.

Film is dependent of art and creativity. The rhythms and patters incorporated in film are key to understanding were the film directer wants to take us.