Documentary Superstars: How Today's Filmmakers Are Reinventing the Form

Documentary Superstars: How Today's Filmmakers Are Reinventing the Form

Marsha McCreadie

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1581155085

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The first book to trace the rise of documentaries as mainstream entertainment. When did documentaries get glamorous? Documentary Superstars looks at the history of documentaries and traces their transition from hands-off to in your face. Exclusive interviews with Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, Errol Morris, George Clooney, Sacha Baron Cohen, Morgan Freeman, Al Gore, and more of the biggest names in the field show the impact of the documentary style on mainstream movies and on our society. From cinema verite to the inserted narrator, from the “balanced” point of view to the charismatic commentator (a la Fahrenheit 9/11), to the documentarian starring in his own narrative (as in Supersize Me) to filmmakers’ innovative use of cameos, pseudocameos, and archival footage, and much more, Documentary Superstars examines the way in which this evolving art form has changed—and changed us. • Newfound box-office clout makes documentaries big business • Interviews with Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, Al Gore, Sacha Baron Cohen, more • Includes career advice for new documentary filmmakers

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Grierson, quoted by quoted by Hollis Alpert, in Saturday Review, “The Lively Ghost of Leni,” March 25, 1972. A film treating the work of Reifenstahl along with other women directors is Women Who Made the Movies (1992) by Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, available through the ordering catalogue of Women Make Movies. Also of note is The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, the 1994 documentary about her by Ray Muller, with footage of Riefenstahl at eighty-nine. 17. Judith

wonderful high school!’ I thought she was kidding me until I realized she was on the other side from me on all the value questions. Everything I thought I was parodying she thought was great.” The way the interview reads, Wiseman seems pleased, for “I never thought her reaction represented a failure of the film. Instead, we have an illustration that reality is ambiguous, a complex mirror, that the ‘real’ film takes place where the mind of the viewer meets the screen. It’s how the viewer

things in perspective, when Salesman came out it was attacked for not being purely journalistic enough (remembering here that the Drew Associates approach to objective reporting had been in operation and in vogue for a while). Defending his film, Maysles has always said there was no manipulation of reality or subjective involvement with his subjects, citing the fact that the (then new) portable equipment became invisible to the subjects after a while, and that people were therefore not

Guggenheim says he believes that docs are the most exciting form right now for any number of reasons. Feature films are subject to so many different levels of approval; even a test audience can negate an entire project. He also says docs interest him the most because there are so many different ways a doc can be made, and there is much more creative control than in film features or television. “When I graduated from Brown [in 1986],” he says, “I was so worried cause I felt it was all over. The

as we had come to know it since Grierson, but the dramatic fiction film, in all its incarnations from Tokyo to Hollywood. This paradox resulted from the fact that of the two, the fiction film was the more observational in attitude. Documentaries of the previous thirty years had celebrated the sensibility of the filmmaker in confronting reality; they had rarely explored the flow of real events.12 Does this manifesto come from Moore, or Morgan Spurlock? The currently very quotable Herzog? Or his

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