The authoring of Observational Cinema: conversations with Colin Young

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Based on a series of conversations with Colin Young that have taken place over a period of more than thirty years, this article explores how a certain set of practical and institutional circumstances, operating in combination with a series of philosophical and aesthetic ideas about the nature of cinema, first led to the emergence over the late 1960s and early 1970s of the approach to ethnographic filmmaking that would eventually become known as “Observational Cinema”. Although it was those whom Colin Young trained, inspired or simply influenced who worked out the practical filmmaking applications of his ideas, it was he who first formulated the foundational concepts underpining this approach to ethnographic filmmaking. As such, although he has been a “filmmaker-maker” rather than a filmmaker himself, Colin Young has a rightful claim to be considered, in the sense defined by Roland Barthes, the original “author” of Observational Cinema.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-235
Number of pages43
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2018


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