F Is for Phony

Alexandra Juhasz and Jesse Lerner are the editors of the new book F Is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth's Undoing. Both are film- and videomakers who teach media studies at Pitzer College.

Fake documentaries date to the earliest days of cinema, when incidents as diverse as a boxing match and a war were staged. The articles in F Is for Phony examine some modern-day precursors to the mockumentary, including Luis Buñuel's Land Without Bread, but focus on contemporary independent films in which artists astutely interrogate distinctions between fiction and nonfiction, the relativity of truth, and even when a lie tells the truth. Juhasz writes that the book highlights “films that don't just deconstruct but reconstruct; films that unmake and make reality claims; films that mark that it matters who remembers and in what context. The fake documentaries studied here are productive and progressive in that they unlink and link their text and viewer to knowledge about many documentary truths, and an equally many documentary lies, about identity, history, authenticity, and authority.” We invite you to view this selection of films discussed in the book with an appropriately suspicious attitude.

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