I can see something true through the camera that is not immediately visible. If I start from you and your expectation as a participant of what cinema should be, you will start staging yourself, you’ll start acting out an idealized image of yourself, you’ll start acting out the fantasies that you hold of yourself. And I’ll be able to know how you dream of yourself, how you imagine the world. And that’s also how I tried to use the camera, especially in The Act of Killing. And I think that’s the state of nature for the non-fiction camera. If I put a camera on anybody, they start to perform. And from that performance we can see how people want to be seen. And we can infer how they really see themselves. In short, we can see the role of fiction storytelling and fantasy in constituting our apparently factual reality.
I was lucky to catch a discussion with Joshua Oppenheimer in Vancouver before a screening of The Look of Silence. Along with its precursor The Act of Killing, these two films are staggering companion pieces, must-sees that are having very real impacts on filmmakers, politicians, societies, etc. For in-depth pieces, try this one from The Atlantic, or this one from The Independent.
Since most who attended the talk are involved in filmmaking, he indulged our curiosity about the particulars of his process and techniques. Here are a few highlights :
Tonight I re-watched Jules et Jim, a choice made after spotting the excellent poster at a coffee shop (excellent because it depicts Catherine, not the titulary Jules and Jim.... clever), and realizing I had large gaps in my memory to refill.
The film is a free-spirited rendition of sweet and free going sour and confined, on many levels. It's a radiant reminder that cinematic freedom can be exercised in every department, and meaningfully.
When a public luminary leaves us suddenly, it hits hard because they never withdrew from their vital role in present-day humanity. Today I thank: David Bowie, Oliver Sacks and Karen Schmeer. Their stars will never dim.
"Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private," Gross says. "But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions. What puts someone on guard isn't necessarily the fear of being 'found out.' It sometimes is just the fear of being misunderstood."
I didn't realize (but am not so surprised) it took 5 years to build and finesse this masterpiece of overlapping patterns that span highly distinctive lifestyles and life forms.
"That's the big joke. It wasn't fast at all, and it wasn't cheap, but it was out of control." (Karen Schmeer)
... because the notion of 'truth' is open to excellent, necessary debate/conversation, of which the previous post is but one hint. I turn to Errol Morris for more depth:
First on Radiolab, discussing the truth/untruth of an 1855 photograph taken during the Crimean War:
And in conversation with The Believer. I pulled a few excerpts (below) but the whole article is worth a read!
... to me these are really, really, really important issues.
Diana Vreeland's fashion-forward ideas are currently cruising at breakneck speeds in the form of in-flight entertainment. Something tells me she would approve. The 'entertainment' in question is a biographical documentary about her called Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. The film appeals on many fronts, not just the fashion/art perspective. One of my favorite parts - in her later career with the Met's Costume Institute - recounts her insistence on exaggerating the wig of a mannequin for the exhibit 'The Eighteenth-Century Woman' (pictured below). In reasoning with designer Harold Koda (who happens to be stepping down this month from heading the Costume Institute), she says, and I'm paraphrasing, 'it is not about showing the whole complete truth, but the integrity of the idea' .
See 'read more' for another example from the film Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.
Sparse highlights from the great spinning sphere of publication.