Critical Realism and the Biographical Film Project
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This paper explores aspects of a critical realist approach that have practical application to biographical documentary filmmaking as an ontological and methodological guide in the planning, production, and editing processes. An interdisciplinary approach from social science philosophy, critical realism is a tool with the potential for gaining a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying events because of its focused ontology, view of society as multi-layered with emergent properties, and the use of abduction and methodological pluralism. This approach results in a circular historical perception that connects backward and forward in a continually recursive fashion to reveal contemporary events not as predestined points along a 'linear' continuum, but as interrelated elements of a contextualized whole that brackets any temporal point of investigation. The biographical subject is shown connected outside as well as inside their time, and in relation to different levels of agency in the context of their culture.