Oral Presentation: Objectivity & Subjectivity

The difference between objectivity and subjectivity? Give examples.

“In the study of nature objectivity requires adherence to scientific procedure. Facts must be true, results must be verified.” (Nichols 2010)

The difference: objectivity is based on fact and subjectivity is based on opinion.
Examples from Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010) Roger & Me (1989)


At what point does documentary storytelling in Exit Through the Gift Shop overwhelm straight reporting? Do the aesthetics of direct cinema effectively circumvent this potential problem? Why or why not?
Storytelling overwhelms straight reporting when the camera is turned on Thierry.
Banksy makes Thierry look stupid through interviews and footage.
Direct Cinema evade problem? No it is still the director’s story, not the character’s story.
Subjectivity still occurs in the selection of people, subject matter and editing
Notion: camera doesn’t lie, documentary in pursuit of truth (Chapman 2009, 49)


Although ‘the fly on the wall’ notion has been heralded as an ideal in documentary, it has also raised the important point of whether it is possible to get a ‘true’ picture of reality. How does a filmmaker’s presence change the dynamics?

You have a set of values “looking glasses” the moment you interact with a subject (Buck).

Filmmaker presents his view to persuade, brings his own context/perspective

Manipulation: selection of people/editing can change context
Motive: try to make an interesting/entertaining film
Recurrent themes of monkeys and copying – voice of Banksy
Killing of the Rabbit & Eviction on Christmas Eve (Weinberger 2002)


What responsibilities does a documentary filmmaker have towards Journalistic truth? Discuss with examples from Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Filmmaker has a responsibility towards journalistic truth otherwise it will seem like propaganda (Chapman 2009)

Provide history/factual information, verifiable facts – Thierry’s background and movements

Balance: showing different people’s perspectives – lots of people interviewed

Telling a true story – A story about street artists; Banksy, Shepard Fairey & Thierry (phony)


Buck, Chris (date unknown) “Do Look Back: The Story of Cinema Verite” Reprinted in MCC333 Documentary Reader. Perth, Western Australia: Murdoch University.


Chapman, Jane (2009) “Objectivity/Subjectivity Pursuing Truth?” in Issues in Contemporary Documentary, Cambridge, Polity Press.


Nichols, Bill (2010) “Style” in Engaging Cinema, New York, W.W Norton and Company.

Weinberger, Michael (2002) “Defining Documentary Film: The Question of Roger and Me” Reprinted in MCC333 Documentary Reader. Perth, Western Australia: Murdoch University.

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