Documentaries, 21st Century: Time to Sum Up

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During the last fifteen years in the Russian documentaries dominated creative trend characterized by passionless, objectivist fixing of reality, mainly the negative sides of it. Today, the so-called actual cinema is under crisis, and that determines the relevance of the study summing up some of the processes that have taken place in the Russian documentary cinema in the late 20th-early 21st century. The author examines the causes of uprise and development of the objectivist, naturalistic approach to the fixing of reality and showing the negative aspects of it in Russian documentaries. The primary reason for this phenomenon is connected with the changes in the social system of the country, which has led to the loss of ethical and aesthetic guidelines. The critical perception of reality in a number of contemporary documentaries is the antithesis to the Soviet documentaries with its trend to show predominantly positive aspects of life. As for the rejection of contemporary realities, it can be explained by the desire of film directors to distance themselves from the glamorous approach in the interpretation of reality customary a contemporary TV. And finally, there was the purely practical reason, namely poor theatre and TV distribution that forced the filmmakers to focus on the festival jury and film critics supporting this orientation. Another problem of contemporary Russian documentary lies in the fact of the elimination of the state documentary studios that has led to a general fall of professionalism in this field. The availability of digital video which appeared at this time and easiness of shooting and editing technology allowed to create documentaries by those who could not tell an interesting documentary story. The result of this process is a decline of spectators’ interest towards documentaries. It can be predicted that the development of new forms of financing documentaries and promoting them to the viewer, will significantly change the aesthetic content of Russian documentary films and return the interest of the audience to this kind of cinema.

Poznin Vitaly F

PhD in Art, Professor, Journalism Department, Higher School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Saint Petersburg State University.

ВШЖиМК Санкт-Петербургского государственного университета

Author for correspondence.


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Copyright (c) 2016 Poznin V.F.

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