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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Industry > Capturing Reality – The Art Of The Documentary (2008/First Run Features DVD Set)

Capturing Reality – The Art Of The Documentary (2008/First Run Features DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Documentary: B-



Why have documentaries become exciting and even profitable?  Why are they no longer seen as a boring medium and (outside of digital video) seen an explosion of production?  Pepita Ferrari’s Capturing Reality – The Art Of The Documentary (2008) looks at a cross-section of reasons for this by interviewing many of the hottest and most important directors in the field.


At 97 minutes, you would think they would get to the point and get all these questions answered.  Instead, though we learn about some great documentaries seen and that deserve to be seen (you are bound not to have heard of some of them), but the project gets sidetracked by some of the directors getting self-indulgent and going off in tangents about their work or how they think.  Some of them are full of themselves, while others do offer insight that helps us understand the process of making these types of projects.


Of course, they sometimes contradict each other and that is to be expected, but the makers should have become more proactive in making more points, even if this had to be longer and footage in the extras not in the main program prove that this should have been more expansive and ambitious, or at least a longer cut should have been made.


Still, we get a crash course on the subject in many great clips and interviews with the likes of Scott Hicks, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield, Patricio Guzman, Albert Maysles, Joan Churchill, Catherine Martin and many more.  Michael Moore does not show up, but he is discussed.


To address what does is missed, Though some of the documentaries have been bad and as guilty of phoniness as so-called “reality TV”, as mergers and acquisitions have occurred and certain political forces have waged a war on journalism itself, plus the rise of 24-hour-news channels that have too often watered down or distorted what used to be a respectable business all the time brought down too often to a tabloid level, more filmmakers (especially those who have not been able to break into narrative film) find themselves being directors, storytellers of the facts, try to get larger truths across and become substitutes for the real journalists we used to have all the time and take for granted.


It is a trend bound to continue for a long time, even with the rise of new media and Internet.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image shot on new digital video that has some softness and motion blur, but is not bad and may be High Definition.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has well-recorded new interviews, but like some of the documentary clip footage, you do get volume drops at times.  Extras include over four hours of additional interview clips as the interviewee/directors have much more to say.


That too is a good thing.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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