Your top 5 documentaries?

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steve hyde
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Post by steve hyde » Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:39 pm

...yeah, well less than 20% of American's hold passports. That means 80% of the population has never left the country making many people out of touch with the world outside the boundaries of the country.

I see a world filled with ongoing genocide, neo-colonialism, a growing gap between the richest and poorest and aids devastating the entire continent of Africa. I also see cold overworked Americans wandering around the streets like zombies with cell phones attached to their faces, but all that aside, we are talking about "Timmy" the king of all bears and foxes. For Tim the apocalypse had come to the Katmai Peninsula in the form of one or two park rangers that seemed to represent the Satan himself. Tim was a man with a vast imagination.

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Post by timdrage » Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:46 pm

- Grizzly Man
- Lessons of Darkness
- Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe
- Hearts of Darkness
- The Control Room
- Lost in La Mancha
- American Movie
- Spellbound
- some TV doc i saw a while back that was surprisinly good about US prisoners performing Shakespere in prison... very much the 'Monoform' TV doc style but interesting.

Hmm that's all i can think of right now. Don't actually watch many. I'd be interested to see less narrative docs, along the lines of Lessons of Darkness, Fata Morgana etc... but that kind of goes into another catagory of non-narrative film with Koyanasquatzi etc which you probably can't strictly call a documentary?

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Post by steve hyde » Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:58 pm

...interesting question Tim.

What can be called documentary?

All of my documentaries will be fiction, for example. I am thinking of calling them *fantumentaries* part fantasy, part reality.... Cinema is a surreal form. How can anyone make claims to presenting reality?

Steve

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Post by timdrage » Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:12 pm

*fantumentaries* part fantasy, part reality
Yeah that's definitely the sort of thing i have in mind. Really, all documentaries are this at some level I guess :) nothing totally objective or 'real'

You might wanna check out Peter Watkins films (see my other post in this section), I haven't seen but from reading about them sound interesting, they're mostly either historical or future/imagined events shot documentary style using non-actors, often selecting people who have the same character as who they're playing, e.g real life left wing protestors pitted against real life right wing authority figures but in a fictional debate.

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Post by Evan Kubota » Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:00 am

...yeah, well less than 20% of American's hold passports. That means 80% of the population has never left the country
To be fair, a birth certificate and photo ID will suffice for Mexico and Canada. Although it is appalling that most Americans have never left the country, and a surprising number have never left their state of birth.

I'm not saying the world is wonderful now, but realistically, neo-colonialism is surely not as bad as the original, and AIDS is nothing compared to the bubonic plague or the 1918/1919 influenza pandemic (which killed, by a conservative estimate, twice as many people in a year as AIDS has killed in almost three decades). The working poor in America, who you seem to describe in your post, can miraculously afford TVs in many cases, even if they aren't HDTV-capable. Compare that with the Depression when people were literally starving in the streets...

There are innumerable things wrong with the world and this country right now. That doesn't mean this is not the 'best' time in history for humanity as a whole.

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Post by steve hyde » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:06 am

Hey Evan,

Have a look at this report. My perspective has been influenced by it.

http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2005/

Steve

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Post by Evan Kubota » Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:29 pm

I don't have time to read the whole thing now (finals soon) but I will say that I am generally familiar with the HDR findings. Please don't take my earlier post to mean that I am claiming there are no inequalities or problems in the world. Quite the opposite. I'm merely advocating a wider view of history and noting that, by as objective of a measure as possible, this is not the worst time for humanity in recorded (or pre-recorded) history.

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Post by timdrage » Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:28 pm

this is not the worst time for humanity in recorded (or pre-recorded) history.
It probably is for quite a few specific humans tho... but then every point in history is I guess? :(

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Post by Evan Kubota » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:18 pm

It probably is for quite a few specific humans tho... but then every point in history is I guess?
Undoubtably. And it's awful for them, I'm sure... but Paris Hilton has 'low points' in her life as well, and as anyone can guess those are nowhere near the true extremes of the human condition. It's all about how closely you draw lines, and how general a view of history you are willing to take. I nicked my finger on my motorcycle this morning. This is not the worst day in recorded history.

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Post by steve hyde » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:21 pm

timdrage wrote:
this is not the worst time for humanity in recorded (or pre-recorded) history.
It probably is for quite a few specific humans tho... but then every point in history is I guess? :(

....every point of view is a view from somewhere. It depends on where you are.

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Post by Superbus_ » Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:12 pm

steve hyde wrote:
Depends on who and where you are.....tell that to Bela Tarr...

Steve
Well, Béla Tarr is among the best paid Hungarian directors. But his most famous films are fictions based on the novels of László Krasznahorkai and the underground musician of Mihály Víg. Please, do not mix reality and fiction, fortunately you will not find Hungary similar to Tarr's films. I can agree with you that you can find war zones all over the world and unbelivable powerty as well mainly in Africa, Asia, latin America and sometimes in the USA or in Europe.

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Post by steve hyde » Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:51 pm

Superbus_ wrote:
steve hyde wrote:
Depends on who and where you are.....tell that to Bela Tarr...

Steve
Well, Béla Tarr is among the best paid Hungarian directors. But his most famous films are fictions based on the novels of László Krasznahorkai and the underground musician of Mihály Víg. Please, do not mix reality and fiction, fortunately you will not find Hungary similar to Tarr's films. I can agree with you that you can find war zones all over the world and unbelivable powerty as well mainly in Africa, Asia, latin America and sometimes in the USA or in Europe.
...I should have mentioned that I had watched Bella Tarr's "Satantango" the day before I posted that. To offer a bit more context, I also referenced Bela Tarr, because Nathan is an admirer of his work. (I am too.) Tarr is a singular filmmaker and his work is on par with all the masters of the craft.

It is always good to hear you chime-in from Hungary for discussions on this forum. While I have never been to Hungary myself, I do realize that Tarr's representations of Hungary are not comprehensively representative of life there. Films never are. Tarr's films are fantasies that speak to realities.

"Satantango" could have been shot anywhere. It is a story about deception and trust, infidelity and greed, hope and lost hope, the neglect of children and the origins of violence, alcoholism and the damned, human decency, death, music and poetry, autumn rains, mud and poverty....all this somehow uncovers the importance of love.

All these themes are archetypal. a film on these themes could have been made here in the rural American West or just about anywhere.
Yet, clearly someone like myself will have to make interpretations of what rural poverty might have been like in rural Hungary at the beginning of the 1990s based on the world the *closed world* that Tarr creates.

It is interesting. We know geography through cinema and other *texts*.
I spend a lot of time in Latin America and I am always fascinated to discover the ways that people there learn to *know* the United States.
Just think "Bay Watch", "CNN news", "Dynasty", "Dallas" and the *closed worlds* that the highly funded Hollywood pictures create. These closed worlds become the way that people *know* this place too. It is part truth and part fiction.

Steve

Steve

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Post by Superbus_ » Thu Dec 07, 2006 6:59 pm

I agree with you Steve.
Tarr is a genius and it is very sad that for the majority of Hungarian people he is almost unknown! What a shame...
You are right and you are very polite as well. Of course you can find places and things like Tarr's movies in this country or any other place, so I just emhasised that the normal situation or we can say the reality is different here. Naturally as a sociologist I'm very sensitive about social issues and sometimes I do not like the recent trends but this is capitalism: I can hardly accept that the welfare system is leaking and powerty existing, etc.
That is why we can argueabout the social role of documentary filming, I do belive that a good documentary (and even a good fiction) can have a message: live and think differently. I hope my poor English is not an obstacle to make me understand.

BTW I'm half latin-american ;)

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Post by steve hyde » Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:53 am

...yeah, the social role of documentary filmmaking is an interesting thing to think about. I have been thinking about this quite a bit actually. The concept of *message* is a tricky one because working toward a message can lead to propagandistic narratives. A couple of years ago I used to think about *meaning* in films in terms of a message, but I've moved away from that. I don't think meaning necessarily has to be formed as a message. Meaning becomes *meaningful* when viewers find a connection between themselves and the characters or processes on screen. I think "messages" (or I like the term *meaning*) has to be discovered by the viewer.

I think the social responsibility roles come into play in the form of thematics. What themes does the filmmaker chose to work with and why? One of the remarkable things about the age of cinema has been the ways the cinema serves as a mirror for society to view itself. When we make cinema we should be asking our selves what kinds of themes are important for society to more closely examine.

Steve

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Post by timdrage » Fri Dec 08, 2006 11:33 pm

Steve, did you get a chance to look at the link i mentioned?

http://www.mnsi.net/~pwatkins/part1_home.htm

I think you will get a lot out of it, it's definitely relevent to what you're saying about the social role of documentary filmmaking.
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