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Capturing Reality

Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary > Tricontinental Film Fest

by Roger Young / 24.09.2009

The Art of the Documentary is an interesting series of interviews with some of the greatest living documentarians (and some lesser known ones too) and a showcase of some of their footage. However, it is never interesting enough to be of interest to someone who is not a rabid documentary fan or a documentarian themselves.

The insights of Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield, Albert Maysle and Werner Herzog (Who? Yeah, this film is not for you) were enough for me to sit through the whole thing. But to others it might be a bit of a haul to filter through all these interviews for any revealing moments of how documentaries are made beyond the theoretical. It’s not like CR doesn’t try. It’s mostly that it operates on a self-conscious level: trying to be art and not a straight document; cutting fast when talking about editing, slowing down when talking about interview technique.

While it’s immensely fascinating to hear how the documentarians differ in their opinions about objective truth, the film ends up coming off as an extended epk for a box set of the best documentaries of the last few decades more than any sort of attempt to show how some documentaries can be art while others simply are not. The fact that it shows only clips of the films it considers art and not those that it doesn’t, nor contains interviews with filmmakers who don’t consider documentary making art, makes for a very one-sided love fest and not a real discussion. Unless you count the fact that by watching it you are experiencing the documentary as not art.

Cape Town: Fri 25 Sept @ 6pm
Thswane: Sun 4 Oct @ 8.15pm


*Director: Pepita Ferrari

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