In Approaching the Other ::: http://vimeo.com/21785266
there is a specific line of conduct that feels appropriate to me.
When filming, I tend to have a certain need to identify with the person I happen to be documenting. Whether I agree with their ideas, behaviors or beliefs falls irrelevant and my main goal becomes the search for common ground. Of course this approach turns questionable when you’re sitting with a George Bush let’s say…and quite probably it might not be the right approach. But…there is an instinctive urge for understanding that is permanently present. Perhaps, every documentary filmmaker feels the same?
Recently, in reading articles by Allan Sekula and Walter Benjamin, I’ve been pondering a lot about the portrayal of the subject in documentary film, the subject, “the other”…that is, the danger of “othering”, portraying the subject as the victim, someone outside of and unrelated to the viewer, a call for pity. The aim then becomes to do the opposite…and the question becomes, how?
I’m working on a documentary about a talented composer with a challenging mental condition, Ben…Everything about it is new : Ben and I have become friends, there is an open dialogue of how my eye perceives him to be and how he creates his image…and then also what his parents perceive him to be. There spontaneously came to be a close examination of Ben’s portrayal, in which all the above truths have to be represented. It’s really an interesting situation, a challenging one and I’m enjoying it immensely. Having been asked to produce a manifesto in relation to my work, I decided to incorporate some of the points I’ve come to find important in approaching the subject (with echoes of Benjamin and Sekulla)…here are some thoughts that come up.
Oh and before I forget…See Abbas Kiarostami’s Close Up - it’s on Netflix…beautifully crafted and quite poetic. Also, quite different but extremely intense and powerful, Harlan County U.S.A. by Barbara Kopple.
And lastly, Following Crickets is Airing on PBS on Saturday April 2nd at 11pm - Yey!