Catfish and This Is Not a Film
This chapter considers two recent films, Catfish (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joust) and This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi), with a view to arguing how the most prized indicators of filmic realism can function as signs of lapses in the realist edifice. It argues that such signs function as pointers to the elusive truth characteristic of what will be called “Real-ism” — that is, hints of the Real that emerge precisely when the symbolic framework governing reality becomes imperiled. In particular, these films exploit the realist conventions that lend credibility to the documentary form in a way that not only demonstrates the commonplace expectation that what is presented as truth might turn out to be a fiction but also shows the more radical possibility that fiction may pave the pathway for arriving at truth.
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