Here’s the thing…documentary film is so important because it can somehow weave archive material, emotion, personal journeys and personal ‘truths’, passion and great spontaneity too. And they are so often about stuff we need to know about but could never begin to find out….to see, to feel on our own.
Documentaries don’t always tell the truth. To begin with there is the camera and then the person behind the camera, the producers, researchers funders yadda yadda..so many filters..and eventually there is the extreme skill of the editor - but the real artistry of good documentary is that it can move us, make us quake in our boots, think, debate and potentially even get off the sofa and follow up on what we have just seen. All film needs to be sold to a broadcaster/audience so there is ALWAYS an angle. In a way a ‘truthful’ documentary is an oxymoron. That aside, I have just watched Spike Lee’s ‘When the Levees Broke’ a four-part ‘requiem’ about Katrina, New Orleans and the aftermath. There is no disembodied voice-over telling you what to think; just stories from every angle from the people who were there, wonderful composition, editing including archive that grips and carries you through.
It is a great doc and inspirational for any filmmaker. In contrast I am now watching S.W.A.T with Samuel ‘one act’ L. Jackson. ….well…my brain is full. By the way, if you are wondering, although I can’t really get much from a full screen at a cinema now (I can only see parts of a screen at a time and usually it is all too dark for my eyes to pick up detail….plus I get lost trying to find my way back from the loo and then after ages of feeling peoples heads to find my buddies will only discover the sods have eaten my popcorn), I can still see films on DVDs on my TV. Screen is smaller and I can get as close as I like. So there.