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Documentary and superheroes: from the margins to the mainstream.

Last summer, when I began to think about a theme for this issue, I happened to glance at the daily newspaper listings of movies currently showing in Toronto. What struck me was that there seemed to be a preponderance, not just of comic-book-hero based films but also of documentaries, two genres that had previously existed in the margins of the film industry, but by mid 2008, seemed to be dominating the mainstream. This comparable surge of popularity is what prompted me to tie together two very disparate genres and modes of filmmaking.


This issue of Cineaction, then, addresses this phenomenon by investigating recent developments in both genres. In the first section on documentaries, the topics include a look at Argentina today through the project of making a model of Juan Peron's state-of-the-art plane Pulqui; "direct cinema" and "cinema-verite" in Canadian film; the wrongful imprisonment of an Iraqi journalist at Abu Ghraib; and the American independent filmmaker Jennifer Fox. The last paper in the section provides a perfect transition to Superhero films as it considers actors/fans who perform as Superheroes for tourists in Hollywood. "Superheroes" is narrower thematically but nevertheless includes a wide range of approaches, including a look at Batman as a 'corporate strategy' which resists convergence culture; the computer-generated superbodies 'worn' by characters in these films; two meditations on reasons why Superhero films don't successfully transfer from their print originals; and an analysis of Will Smith's filmic image in light of the Barack Obama phenomenon. In fact, a sub-text of this issue might be the conflation of 'documentary' (i.e. 'real life') with 'Superhero' (i.e. fantasy saviour-of-the-world) in the persona of the recently elected president of the US.

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Author:Morrison, Susan
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 22, 2009
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