Defining Documentary in the Festival Circuit: A Conversation with Bill Nichols

  • Aida VallejoEmail author
Part of the Framing Film Festivals book series (FFF)


In this interview, internationally renowned film scholar Bill Nichols reveals his insights into the past, present and future for the study of documentary film festivals. Although documentary has been the focus of most of Nichols’ academic texts, in 1994 he authored two pioneer articles recently recovered by Film Festival Studies. Showing the evolution of his thoughts around these research topics, he gives his insights about the influence of festivals for the definition of documentary and their impact in new documentary forms and aesthetics, and reformulates some theoretical ideas of his previous works, such epistephilia versus scopophilia in the festival realm. Recalling his experiences as festival attendee and jury member, Nichols reflects on his personal trajectory through several decades of documentary viewing in the festival realm and beyond.


  1. Barnow, Erik. 1993. Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Nichols, Bill. 1991. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1994a. Blurred Boundaries: Questions of Meaning in Contemporary Culture. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1994b. Discovering Form, Inferring Meaning: New Cinemas and the Film Festival Circuit. Film Quarterly 47 (3): 16–30. Scholar
  5. ———. 1994c. Global Image Consumption in the Age of Late Capitalism. East-West Film Journal 8 (1): 68–85. Reprinted in Dina Iordanova, ed. 2013. The Film Festival Reader. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies, 29–44.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2001. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. (Second edition: 2010; third edition: 2017).Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2016. Speaking Truths with Film: Evidence, Ethics, Politics in Documentary. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Nichols, Bill, and Michael Renov, eds. 2011. Cinema’s Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)LeioaSpain

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