<i>David Holzman's Diary</i>

New Yorker Films

David (L.M. "Kit" Carson) wants the truth. Not half-truths, not ecstatic truths; he just wants the truth, of the existential variety. As a movie-mad narcissist spouting references to Jean-Luc Godard, Vincente Minnelli, Luchino Visconti, and François Truffaut, David does what comes naturally to him: He picks up a camera and records himself, his girlfriend, and strangers on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Jim McBride's David Holzman's Diary (1967) is such a straight-faced parody of cinéma vérité — handheld shots, direct address, direct sound, 16mm film stock, on-location shooting — that audiences at the time thought they were watching a documentary. They thought it was real. The only real thing about it is an electric scene in which a gender-ambiguous person, a "street goddess" in a T-Bird, drives up to David and proceeds to outline a one-fuck-per-day lifestyle. It's a scene that blends in with the rest of the film, for David's own disintegrating personality revolves around sexualized seeing — scopophilia and voyeurism. Filmmaking is a part of him. David's identity is tethered to his beloved Nagra and Éclair. He shoots, therefore he is.


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