Articles Tagged Documentary

Airing Your Dirty Laundry

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Doug Block wasn’t sure he had a film yet. His mother had passed away and he was videotaping his father’s move from the family home for posterity. Block had every reason to believe his parents’ 54-year marriage was happy. Then, riding next to his father one afternoon, he asked, “Do you miss mom?” “No, I… Read more »

A Conversation with Les Blank

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In his new film All In This Tea, director Les Blank operates at the far extremes of technology, using digital video to explore an old-world subject matter: artisan, handmade tea. Blank, who is best known for Burden of Dreams, Garlic is as Good as Good Mothers, and Chulas Fronteras, saw digital video as a way… Read more »

Blurring the Lines

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Ohio-based filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s 3-hour and 45-minute documentary A Lion in the House follows five families with economically and racially diverse backgrounds over six years during their fights against childhood cancer. The filmmakers (Reichert started New Day Films in 1971 and both are longtime members of AIVF) recount the fascinating process of… Read more »

AIVF: And What it Meant to Me

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I first became aware of AIVF when Martha Gever was editor of The Independent. I marveled at this national organization that put out each month a magazine chock full of weighty, intellectual and critical articles on film and video. The magazine wasn’t glossy and was not determined to be a general “industry rag.” At that… Read more »

Is documentary the new memoir?

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I am a sociologist who conducts historical research on race and social policy, so my work has something in common with a documentary filmmaker’s attempt to uncover some version of “the truth” (however defined). Maybe this is just my sociological training leaking out, but when I watch a documentary—especially a highly personal, idiosyncratic one—I want… Read more »

Docurama on the Rise

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At the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, Steve Savage and Susan Margolin, the two minds behind New Video, a New York-based entertainment marketing and sales company, watched as tickets for documentaries were snatched up left and right. They witnessed audiences line up to get into sold-out theaters. They saw documentary after documentary screen with standing room… Read more »

The Many Meanings of “Fair Use”

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So your documentary has commercial interest and high revenue earning potential. And you’ve secured all of the agreements, releases, and licenses for the film, except for one piece of vintage footage that’s not quite in the public domain (material which can be used freely by anyone because it was created before 1923), but it’s “pretty… Read more »

What if nobody "gets" my film?

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Dear Doc Doctor: Nobody seems to like my film—they say it’s unclear and hard to follow. Why aren’t they getting the story? If people are “not liking your story,” you have to accept it. If people are “not getting your story,” you have to work on it. Knowing the difference… as priceless as a packed… Read more »

The BBC Bully

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Nick Fraser’s career has been a constant battle between “what I will and won’t do for television,” says the 57-year-old series editor of the BBC’s international documentary showcase “Storyville.” A kind of documentary filmmaking godfather, Fraser is able to fund dozens of films each year, but he’s waged a war on media bias—whether that’s what… Read more »

Where Are We Going?

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The question on everyone’s mind is, Will it last? Documentaries are the hot cultural phenomenon at the moment, and in a society where change is tantamount to breathing, one cannot help wondering if the next “it” thing will simply overtake their sudden and ubiquitous popularity. This is a discouraging thought, as documentaries have a value… Read more »