Thursday, March 11, 2010

Capturing Reality (2008)

Pepita Ferrari


Filmmakers have been turning their cameras on the world since the time of the Lumière brothers — and the idea of documentary has sparked impassioned creative debate ever since.

Some of the genres most influential directors reflect upon its unique power in Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary. Over 30 luminaries — including Albert Maysles, Errol Morris, Alanis Obomsawin, Michel Brault, Nick Broomfield, Kim Longinotto and that great iconoclast Werner Herzog — offer insight into their craft while reflecting on the nature of representation and the perennially contested status of the truth. Can film capture reality? What ethical issues arise when portraying real lives? How does editing or music condition our emotional response to film? More than 100 clips enliven the discussion, offering a panoramic overview of contemporary documentary cinema, from Grey Gardens and The Thin Blue Line to The Day I Will Never Forget and Darwins Nightmare.

In order to make Capturing Reality, director Pepita Ferrari interviewed a number of prominent documentary filmmakers. Ferrari's goal was to find out where they get their inspiration and what their view is on the profession. She intersperses the interviews with short film excerpts that illustrate their arguments. The entire process of documentary filmmaking comes up, from the original plan and the research all the way to the cutting room. Some directors attach a great deal of importance to solid preparation through research, whereas others prefer to be surprised by locations and subjects. A number of them argue for more attention for the visual aspect of a documentary, whether this is a special kind of camerawork, lighting, or even dramatisation. Others follow their subjects with a small digital camera, sometimes making concessions in the cinematic quality in favour of the story. An important topic of discussion is the authenticity of the film and the integrity of the filmmaker. It becomes clear that a documentary can take on many different forms, but that every director is looking in his or her own manner for a suitable way to tell a story about reality.

With the participation of:
Jennifer Baichwal, Manfred Becker, Michel Brault, Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill, Malcolm Clarke, Eduardo Coutinho, Paul Cowan, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Molly Dineen, Jennifer Fox, Serge Giguère, Denis Gheerbrant, Patricio Guzmán, Werner Herzog, Scott Hicks, Heddy Honigmann, Jean-Daniel Lafond, Sylvain L'Espérance, Jean-Pierre Lledo, Kim Longinotto, Kevin Macdonald, Catherine Martin, Albert Maysles, Errol Morris, Stan Neumann, Alanis Obomsawin, Laura Poitras, Emmanuel Priou, Velcrow Ripper, Hubert Sauper, Rakesh Sharma, Claire Simon, Barry Stevens, Sabiha Sumar, Nettie Wild, Peter Wintonick, and Jessica Yu.

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