Through the lens : how documentary film on the Revolution in Grenada contributes to history.
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Documentaries on the Grenadian Revolution are numerous. They are/were mostly produced by independent filmmakers from Grenada, the United States, Britain, and France. At present, some are unavailable to researchers. Most commemorate the brilliance of Maurice Bishop, and secondarily praise the efforts of the micro-nation. Some document the invasion by the United States. Independent filmmakers employ a variety of methods and modes to tell their stories from Cinéma Vérité, Direct Cinema and other techniques such as reenactments to animation. Most use contemporary ambient footage, historical footage, photos, and archival footage when available. Music plays a great part in most of the independent documentaries. A narrative method is employed by most directors, and the documentaries are chronological for the most part. The narrative usually begins with a description of a corrupt dictator, an idealist youthful emerging hero, and a celebratory and a hopeful population who embrace the revolution. It continues and almost immediately the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) is met with resistance from the United States because of its ties to Cuba. The PRG feels the pressure while it tries to build alliances outside of the capitalist First World. This proves difficult and inside the government, the Central Committee begins to fracture. Internal turmoil ensues and the revolution quickly descends to an almost inevitable collapse and end. Most of the documentaries take a neutral to positive view of the revolution at its beginning. The Coup was relatively bloodless, only two people were killed on March 13, 1979. Four years later on October 19, 1983, Maurice Bishop and seven cabinet members were executed in Fort Rupert above St. George’s. How the Central Committee made decisions have been speculated about to this day. Most of the documentarians were unable to penetrate the Central Committee and hear their side of the story. However, more than one documentary captures significant footage from October 19, 1983 and is available for viewing. This study hopes to highlight how documentaries are sometimes primary source documents, as well as evidence of events in some cases, and hence contribute to history.