I intend to investigate the representation of genocidal perpetrators in documentaries from a narratological perspective. There is a large corpus of documentaries representing perpetrators. Many feature in-depth interviews with perpetrators and are directed by victims, who in some cases spent several years filming perpetrators. Yet despite this remarkable corpus of films, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the representation of perpetrators in academic literature. ‘Representing Perpetration’ will investigate documentary filmmakers’ political and ethical narrative strategies of representing genocidal perpetrators across four different genocides: The Holocaust, the 1965–1966 Indonesian massacres, the Cambodian genocide, and the genocide of the Tutsi. I will examine the ways in which documentary filmmakers reframe the perpetrators’ self-deceptions and seek to undermine (successfully or not) the perpetrators’ accounts of history. In so doing, many of these documentary filmmakers manage to wrestle testimonies of atrocities from those most invested in concealing them. Methodologically, I will use narratology to systematically analyse directors’ depiction of genocidal perpetrators. This approach is particularly suitable to investigate the double role these documentaries play in providing an evidentiary record of perpetrators’ testimonies but also in shaping the historical narrative in accordance with the directors’ ethics.
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