Soul of the Documentary: Framing, Expression, Ethics by Ilona Hongisto

hongistoBook Launch
by Prof. Angela Ndalianis (Screen Studies, Melbourne University)

Deakin City Centre, 550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Thursday December 17, 4.00pm–5.00pm (following MSSG seminar)

Book Description:
In Soul of the Documentary: Framing,Expression, Ethics (Amsterdam University Press, November 2015), Ilona Hongisto stirs current thinking about documentary cinema by suggesting that the work of documentary films is not reducible to representing what already exists. By close-reading a diverse body of films – from The Last Bolshevik to Grey Gardens – Hongisto shows how documentary cinema intervenes in the real by framing it and creatively contributes to its perpetual unfolding. The emphasis on framing brings new urgency to the documentary tradition and its objectives, and provokes significant novel possibilities for thinking about the documentary’s ethical and political potentials in the contemporary world.

Documentary does not simply document what is; it presses reality to reveal what is to come. This thrillingly original and well-argued book brings a shot of energy to studies of documentary cinema, film theory, and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Ilona Hongisto shows that documentary cinema is an active space of becoming, whose power lies not in indexicality but in capture, the selection of certain aspects of the real to actualize. Her analysis of the aesthetics of the documentary frame, which captures and expresses according to the distinct operations of imagination, fabulation, and affection, will inspire scholars and filmmakers alike.
––Laura U. Marks, School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University

With this book, Hongisto breaks new ground. She introduces a fresh vocabulary to explore our experience of documentary reality as a becoming, a transit zone between what is and what is not yet. There is a deep purpose here: to reconsider how we engage with and understand documentary film, and perhaps cinema itself.
Bill Nichols, author of Introduction to Documentary and a regular consultant with filmmakers

Ilona Hongisto is an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Media Studies at The University of Turku, Finland, and an Honorary Fellow at the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne.

Paperback copies of the book will be available for purchase at the launch ($30.00 cash only). An open access version is downloadable from:;keyword=Hongisto