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Telling Tales: Bearing Witness in Jennifer Fox's The Tale

El Madawi, Stefanie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4856-6885 (2020) Telling Tales: Bearing Witness in Jennifer Fox's The Tale. Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, 6 (2).

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Abstract

Award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer Jennifer Fox is best known for her documentary projects exploring themes of trauma and identity with both sensitivity and insight. But, in her 2018 film The Tale, Fox turns her subjective scrutiny inwards to construct a filmic testimony that interrogates the machinations of memory and selfhood in the belated realization of her experience of childhood sexual abuse. The Tale institutes a complex witnessing model that encompasses the filmic and narrative construction of the testimonial ‘I’, and the coalescent empathic invitation of autobiography and testimonial witnessing. By incorporating critical perspectives from trauma, testimony and autobiography studies, The Tale is posited for analysis as filmic testimony, and considered within a multi-layered witnessing structure that includes production, viewership, and cultural impact. Ultimately, the analysis concludes that the empathic relation filmic testimony invites is tantamount to ethical witnessing, which persists as a form of activism beyond the viewing experience.

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