Reimagining The Past – Why Found Footage Films are Important

A fellow student asked this profound question in class today, “what is the value of history if it’s always being questioned?” This lead me to think about the topic of found footage films or collage films. No, I’m not talking about the fictional found footage films like The Blair Witch Project or the Paranormal Activity franchise. I’m talking about already filmed accounts of our history put together in conjunction with other, disparate images and video clips.

One remarkable found footage film that comes to mind as an example is Jen Proctor’s A Movie (2010). You can watch the full film here. This film is a remake and influenced by Bruce Conner’s A Movie (1958) and both films have very different messages.

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Where Conner’s film explores human fascination with violence, the gaze, and sexuality, Proctor is a bit more new aged in that it reimagines the raw past of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Both subject matters contain profound messages regarding the human condition and our visceral anxiety about our world. Mixing actual events with disparate images is an artistic practice that should not be ignored. Indeed, it may seem like a disrespectful rendering of history, but in actuality, it is a subjective point-of-view that creates an alternate perspective of unstable memories of tragic events and encounters. These films are certainly something to keep in mind when wanting to refer back to the past or review the past with a different lens.

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