Since the late 1960s, American film and video makers of all stripes have been fascinated with themes of self and identity. Though the documentary form is most often used to capture the lives of others, Jim Lane turns his lens on those media makers who document their own lives, their own identities. He looks at the ways in which autobiographical documentaries - Roger and Me, Sherman's March, and Silverlake Life are but a few of the more prominent examples - raise weighty questions about American cultural life. What is the role of women in society? What does it mean to die from AIDS? How do race and class play out in our personal lives? What does it mean to be a member of a family? Examining the history, diversity, and theoretical underpinnings of this increasingly popular documentary form, Lane tracks a fundamental transformation of notions of both autobiography and documentary.
Jim Lane is executive director of the Emerson Los Angeles Center. A filmmaker since 1982, his documentaries include Women of Prague, The Projectionist, Background Action, I Am Not an Anthropologist, Keeping House, and East Meets West.