"Waltz with Bashir: Trauma and Representation in the Animated Documentary"


Published in the Journal of Film and Video, Special Documentary Issue, Vol. 67.1-2 (Fall/Winter 2015).
Awarded 1st Place Paper, Paper Prize, University Film and Video Association, Los Angeles CA, 2013.
Presented at the University Film and Video Association National Conference, Chicago IL, Aug 10 2012.


Director Ari Folman's animated documentary, Waltz with Bashir (2008), was largely embraced for how it reconfigured the ethics of the non-fiction film and heralded an important new discourse for the animated genre. As implied by the film's hybrid format and Folman's focus on the tragic Sabra and Shatila massacre during the 1982 Lebanon War, Bashir posits the hypothesis that the animated image, in a documentary context, can function as an appropriate medium for representing that which is often deemed unrepresentable: the trauma of war and human suffering. Focusing on trauma studies and representation, with an eye towards the history of animated documentary in its many incarnations, this paper endeavors to study the function of the documentary's animated image as—in Andreas Huyseen's assessment of Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale—an act of mimesis as “distanciation device,” that “preserves the legitimacy of the image... in the faithful pursuit of its prohibition.”

"Abbas Kiarostami's Poetics of Automobility"


Awarded 1st Place Debut Paper Winner, Production Aesthetics & Criticism, Broadcast Education Association, Las Vegas NV, 2016.
Awarded 1st Place Paper, Paper Prize, University Film and Video Association, Bozeman MT, 2014.
Presented at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies National Conference, Atlanta GA, Apr 3 2016.
Presented at the Broadcast Education Association National Conference, Las Vegas NV, Apr 17 2016.
Presented at the Mid Atlantic Popular Arts and Culture Association National Conference, Philadelphia PA, Nov 7 2015.
Presented at the University Film and Video Association National Conference, Los Angeles CA, Aug 3 2013.


For Abbas Kiarostami, the world is not to be contained within the dogmatic frame of one ideology versus another, but rather stretches far beyond any one understanding, sharing the elusiveness and subjectivity of a passing glimpse from the window of a speeding car. Here, in the flicker of this ephemeral vision by car and camera, a poetics and worldview begins to take shape, one belonging exclusively to Kiarostami: neither Eastern Islamist nor Western modernist. Instead, his work explores a transitory existence of roadways and journeys: the non-places of society devoid of political affiliation, populated by ambiguous characters constantly in search of something tangible yet masking questions of a more existential nature – who am I?

But in spite of his seeming ambivalence, Kiarostami does in fact tacitly offer a political perspective defiant of the censorship and rhetoric of Iran's theocracy; offering instead a visual expression of the world as he sees it to truly exist, far beyond the narrow frame officially sanctioned by the state. For Kiarostami, this voice is best expressed through his formal and conceptual forging of the automobile and camera into a new cinematic apparatus through which to make manifest the world for the viewer, the filmmaker, and the characters who populate his films alike to experience. Yet Kiarostami does not, by any means, merely champion the relentless march towards modernity practiced by the West as evidenced by his problematizing of the very instruments of modernity through which he speaks. And so, what results is a unique and sometimes beguiling viewpoint on modernity and stasis in modern day Iran explored through this transitory aesthetic of “automobility.”

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