The contemporary documentary

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The contemporary documentary

  1. 1. October 1998 – The Kent International Film Festival screened The Buena Vista Social Club, a new documentary film. This two screen local cinema had people queuing round the block to buy a ticket. Once the auditorium reached capacity people were turned away. By contrast on the other screen the cinema showed There’s Something About Mary to an audience of three. Documentary was back on the big screen and was at the start of the renaissance.
  2. 2. Rather than playing to the small demands of television, filmmakers now have the big screen in mind, as exemplified in the award winning Touching The Void. This film uses the same cinematic devises as mainstream Hollywood films (e.g. helicopter action shots)
  3. 3. Michael Moore’s work has significantly raised the profile of documentary both as a cinematic and television product. His controversial films overtly challenge the mainstream and are overtly political and critical of the role of big businesses of America. Moore’s films use a mixture of styles. They have a modern pace, structure and energy that set them apart from their predecessors and have spawned a revitalised contemporary documentary movement. Other filmmakers which fall into this style are Morgan Spurlock and Louis Theroux.
  4. 4. Michael Moore’s Slacker Uprising (2008) is one of the first documentary feature films to be released as a completely free legal on-line download. Moore made it available for three weeks and it broke all download records in its first twenty-four hours. At the start of the twenty first century documentary is fashionable and accessible and even those of limited means are able to access, make and distribute documentaries themselves.
  5. 5. One of the key features in the contemporary documentary film movement is Morgan Spurlock, whose first documentary feature Super Size Me (2004) was an immediate worldwide success. Its effects were wide reaching, being attributed to the worldwide fall in fast food profits for McDonalds and forcing the company to end its Super-size promotion. Spurlock has since built a genre out of the thirty days concept, through a series of television documentaries, where subjects agree to having a camera following them for thirty days (e.g. living on minimum wage.) Super Size Me is the 17th highest grossing documentary of all times, receiving over $11 million at the box office.
  6. 6.  Parentage lies in the participatory mode  Contemporary focus on personal documentary  Filmmaker as ‘star’  Under going elements of whatever they are investigating.  Over emotional reactions highlighting a sense of ‘the real’  Lack of editorial restrictions
  7. 7.  Create a case-study on Morgan Spurlock looking specifically at: 1. His life 2. His work (including box office returns) 3. Audience response 4. Critical response 5. Awards

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