What's Up, Doc?: Nonfiction Filmmakers Ponder the Form

Holding his own: Albert Maysles
photo: Kendell Messick

The unprecedented bumper crop of documentaries released over the past couple of years has spurred countless debates, among them the old standby about such films inevitably influencing the events they set out to chronicle (thank Capturing the Friedmans for resurrecting that one). But you know the form has reached a new, not altogether elevated level when such objets d'agitprop as Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed and the whole Swift Boat Veterans for Hooey/Sinclair Broadcasting debacle—to say nothing of maddeningly self-indulgent confessionals like Tarnation—can be discussed in the same breath as Titicut Follies or even the scrupulously-objective-by-comparison Nanook of the North. Does being able to rent a DV camera and/or use iMovie automatically confer documentarian status? Such questions will presumably be addressed when four nonfiction filmmakers, including old-school stalwart and Christo pal Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens) and Jehane Noujaim, who helmed one of last year's more sober campaign cycle exposés (Control Room), gather along with award-winning producer Bill Smee of Discovery Times Channel to discuss the recent resurgence of their bread and butter. If you miss this event, fear not: Somebody's bound to film it.

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