Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Girl Model not a Documentary?

Painting credit: Southern Landscape, 1965, Oil on Canvas, Benny Andrews (1930-2006 Born in Plainview, Morgan County, Georgia; maintained studios in NYC, Litchfield, CT and Athens, GA; died in Brooklyn, NY

“Your film is not a documentary.”  This is the statement that I took away from the screening last night at the Morris Museum of Art.  This thought provoked me to ask the audience, “What is a documentary?”  The audience quickly chimed in and said, “dry, talking head, and thesis driven”.  If we analyze our film with that criteria then yes, Girl Model is not a documentary.  As a filmmaker however, I hesitate to fully agree with this statement.  I like the principles of documentary whereby we are documenting a reality and exploring that reality through visual narrative storytelling. 

Perhaps what needs to change is how documentary is represented in major media outlets.  I am hopeful that in the future, there will be a more diverse understanding of documentary storytelling.  This will only be possible with screening series like Southern Circuit, film festivals, and broadcasters who will take risks.  Prior to the screening, as I walked around the Morris Museum, I felt the paintings and sculptures were documenting a past, an emotional tone, and/or poetic human characteristics.  Yes indeed, the paintings were more like impressions of reality.  Perhaps by including documentary under a more artistic umbrella, the stereotype of the dry documentary will change.  Filmmakers need to challenge and encourage one another in order to deepen our visual palette.    

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