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Can you tell the truth if your form is a liar?

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Herzog & Morris & Searching for Sugar Man

The politburo of Kirkistan recently made its way through two documentaries. One paved the way to fully appreciate the other.

CapturingReality-05302013-2

In Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary, Director Pepita Ferrari set documentarians Errol Morris, Werner Herzog and others in front of the camera to show and tell how their work is entirely biased toward telling their story.

Why would anyone expect otherwise?

Except there is something about the documentary form that shouts “objective”—which turns out to be a profound misdirect. Some documentarians are not above setting up and staging shots in their passion for telling their story. This should surprise no one. And it is neither wrong nor a misrepresentation—depending on how the documentary is billed. As always: caveat emptor. And this: sometimes the story is true though not all the parts actually happened. Fiction writers lead with this all the time (the preface to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried comes to mind).05302013-MV5BMjA5Nzc2NDUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQwMjc5Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_

Ferrari’s film was a perfect set-up for Searching for Sugar Man. This is an unbelievable tale of a washed out 70’s era Motor City singer/songwriter who helped foment revolution in South Africa—but who never knew it. This film exhibits breathtaking storytelling, with the paradox gripping you from the first scenes. It’s also a history lesson in how apartheid fell. I won’t give away the end except to say it is one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard in a long time.

How about taking in a documentary this weekend?

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Written by kirkistan

May 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm

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