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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tina Gharavi


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This stunningly shot experimental documentary is a poignant character study of 17 year-old lesbian Annelise Rodger in Newcastle, England. An official selection at Sundance, the film explores the process of documentary filmmaking and challenges traditional forms of storytelling. Fiction and documentary collide as "scenes" from the main subject's life are reenacted for the camera. Produced without a script and in close collaboration with the subject, the filmmaker presents a hypnotizing array of montages and sequences to introduce the day-to-day happenings of this extraordinary person. From the streets of Newcastle – where we find Annelise speaking frankly to the camera about her experiences as a young lesbian – to the emotionally charged reenactment of her coming out to her mother, this inventive film provides a rare auto-portrait. What emerges is a remarkable encounter with a young woman, and a story that has broader implications about being young, being at the cusp of adulthood, and finding one's identity; as well as being about how documentaries reveal, provoke and conceal. Closer is a stunningly filmed half-hour 35mm film that innovatively interweaves fiction and drama in an uncompromising portrait of a young adolescent girl from the North-East of England. The film was broadcast widely, and won several awards including: One World International Human Rights Film Festival, Czech Radio Award, Chicago Reeling Film Festival, Honorable Mention and Grand Prize at the iFILM/Planetout Short Movie Award, Outfest, Los Angeles. Shari Frilot, programmer of the Sundance Film Festival praised the film claiming it ‘pushes the boundaries of documentary.’ The film has gone on to have a long and rich life in the education market where it has been screened at many schools in the US and used by advocacy groups. The Harvard University Library and MIT amongst many others institutions hold a copy in their libraries. Gharavi: “In this film I am particularly interested in investigating the veracity of the image in documentary. The film explores the codes and conventions of documentary practice and attempts to find a means of expanding the existing language of the form. This earlier work is the keystone to a body of work that investigates and challenges the conventions for methodologies and processes in filmmaking. I am particularly questioning the relationship between audience, filmmaker and subject and how to encourage a dialogue and to breakdown the barriers between these viewpoints. Some of the investigated themes include identity, representation and also the construction of reality in documentaries. As filmmaker, I am attempting to share authorship with the subject of the film and also for the audience to become more aware of the devices that filmmakers use to spin their yarns. Most importantly, the film is about process. What happens while the film is being made. This discourse is visible and reveals itself in the film”. Closer is distributed by the British Council & Women Make Movies, NY. Broadcast: Showtime/Sundance Channel, USA.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gharavi T

Publication type: Digital or Visual Media

Publication status: Published

Year: 2001

Source Publication Date: 01-01-2001

Publisher: Women Make Movies

Place Published: UK/FR

Type: DVD (35mm film)