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Challenging the audience´s suspension of disbelief: Reflexive Practice and Collaborative Methods in Ethnographic Filmmaking
In this paper, I explore how a collaborative film can become “ethnographic” by proposing a critical relation with the audience through challenging the viewer´s suspension of disbelief. I follow Pink (2011) who proposed that ´ethnographic images´ do not exist in isolation or without a viewer, but rather that the ´ethnographic´ status can only emerge in the encounter with the audience. Rather than an element emerging from the editing suite, I suggest that reflexivity should be embedded in the practice from the field to the screen as a path to achieve the image´s ethnographic status. This approach stresses reflexivity as a central element of the filmmaking rationale from the conceptualization, creation and crafting of the images. It proposes questions to the audience about how the material was produced and why is presented in a specific way. To illustrate this I rely on analysing some of my own practice presented in the film ´This is my Face´ (2018), in which I experimented with reflexivity to challenge the audience´s suspension of disbelief. By expanding on Ruby’s conceptualizations of reflexivity (1977), I propose a way in which it can be used strategically as a means to critically engage in a dialogue with a wide audience. I suggest that if reflexivity emerges from the practice (from pre to post-production) and not as an expost activity (from the edit suite) it becomes part of the film´s diegesis without necessarily disrupting its narrative.