All decent journalists know that you can't just aim a recording device at reality and expect it to divulge the truth. You have to analyze, interpret, and present the information in such a way that its hidden inner workings and its invisible outer context are made clear, forming a choreography of storytelling in which truths below the surface can be glimpsed.
Documentarians know the same secret. While some argue for the most dispassionate gaze, others aesthetically complicate or inject themselves into the stories they document in pursuit of truth beyond what the eye can see. By and large, these are the people we are highlighting in our preview of the 2018 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an annual institution that draws docs and filmmakers from around the world to Durham.
We spoke with Joe Berlinger, the legendary Paradise Lost director and curator of Full Frame's true-crime program, about his groundbreaking infusion of dramatic-fiction tropes into documentaries that achieved real-world results. We examine how Terrence Malick and Eugene Richards made two films, one fictional and one documentary, from the same footage. And we explore a unique skateboarding documentary in which one person is both director and subject. We also look at Owned: A Tale of Two Americas, a dark screed powered by its director's personal experiences, and Capturing the Flag, an interesting view from the outside of voter suppression in North Carolina.
This selection only scratches the surface of what's available at Full Frame—we highly recommend the tribute program to Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, for example—but it gives an overview of the challenges, opportunities, and stakes for documentarians in an age of untrustworthy news. More than ever, you have to shape the truth to make it true. And more than ever, you have to be careful and responsible in how you do it.
For Paradise Lost Director Joe Berlinger, True-Crime Storytelling Matters Most When It Gets Real Results
The Same Footage, Treated as Fiction by Terrence Malick and as Fact by Eugene Richards, Forms a Complete Picture of Faith and Filmmaking
Owned: A Tale of Two Americas Is a Screed Against the Suburbs' Numbing Design and Racist Underpinnings
Capturing the Flag Takes a Hard Outsider's Look at the Ugly Reality of Voting in North Carolina
Skate Videos Immortalize the Physical Glory and Pain of Skateboarding Life, Leaving Docs like Minding the Gap to Explain Why
Mad at Full Frame or Just Want More? Either Way, Single Frame Has You Covered.