Coming Out of Left Field

Monday, August 02, 2004

Discussing documentary

This week's New Yorker has a piece by Louis Menand on the documentary tradition. A lot of folks have criticized Moore's film for being biased, but Menand shows that documentaries aren't purely objective: "There may be a neutral style, but there is no neutrality." Even if a movie-maker doesn't suggest or manipulate events, s/he still chooses what to shoot, what footage to include, and how to put shots together. It's not a question of presenting fiction (unless, like John Flaherty, you've staged events for the camera), but of choosing which truths to show.

Menand's article mentions Documentary, a book by Erik Barnouw that's a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the non-fiction film.

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