September 29, 2019

Essential Doc Reads: Week of September 23

From Morgan Spurlock's latest film, 'Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken.'

Essential Doc Reads is a weekly feature in which the IDA staff recommends recent pieces about the documentary form and its processes. Here we feature think pieces and important news items from around the Internet, and articles from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

Nearly two years after he published his career-halting confessional essay as the #MeToo movement was gathering force, Morgan Spurlock sat down with Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. to talk about the fallout, the struggles and the long road to recovery.

It started off with me thinking I needed to first talk about my depression and talk about what I’d been going through, the way I emotionally felt at the time. And then it just kind of grew into a much bigger thing for me. It became this stream of consciousness emotional purge that I just had to get out. This moment where it’s like, I have to talk about this. Whether it was a moment of clarity or guilt, I felt like I needed to own up to things that happened in my past. As somebody who has made a career out of trying to find the truth and to talk about things…I wanted to say that I can do better, I can be better.

Hammer to Nail’s Christopher Llewellyn talks to filmmaker Eva Mulvad about her latest documentary Love Child, about an Iranian couple--both of whom are both married to other people--who flee the country after having a child out of wedlock.

Subjects in documentary films are as varied as we are. And with this particular family, one of the qualities that I could see very early on was that they had no difficulty showing their emotions. They were very transparent, and they were very trusting, and it was very easy for us to be accepted in their families. So, I have shot many documentaries, and this is one of the cases where it has been the easiest access to emotions, intimacy. And I think that’s very beautiful, and that’s very strong for an audience to be invited into some really clever people in a difficult situation trying to handle pretty severe problems, and doing it in a very human way. I’m very grateful that they accepted us that way and it was not a hard relationship to build with them.

POV Magazine's Pat Mullen has some trenchant things to say about Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, as well as other--by Mullen's lights--underachieving music docs from 2019.

Scorsese’s inspired take on the lore of Dylan's traveling circus is the opposite of Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman's film: it's not about the archives, Grammys, or fawning interviews, but the ways in which people carry musical experiences throughout their lives and how these memories morph over time. With The Sound of My Voice, it's just archives, Grammys, and fawning interviews cut into a one-note narrative of record.

Writing for the Film Independent blog, Anthony Ferranti report on the 360 docs presented at The Portal, a showcase of VR works, produced and presented by Film Independent and Loyola Marymount University.

What I saw as a significant leap forward in VR doc filmmaking was the mixing of mediums, such as animation and archival footage, with creators managing to push beyond mere immersion to deliver the deeper emotional truths found within each project’s subjects. Combined with rich design, the filmmakers elevated their projects to a higher level, exceeding expectations.

At the IDA Screening Series showing of Mike Wallace Is Here, filmmaker Avi Belkin talked about his use of archival footage and outtakes to tell the story of the iconic television journalist. IndieWire’s Chris Lindahl reports.

"The idea I had was that television was the basis for all our history lessons. The way we experienced the 20th Century was watching TV. And Mike is this iconic historian, right? Because he was basically telling us the way that things went down."

From the Archive, Winter 2014: "Docs that Really Rock: Music Documentaries Go Beyond the Performance"

"Music films are also an amazing opportunity to tell all kinds of other stories," explains Morgan Neville. "Music opens the door for an audience. The audience may know a certain music, band, songwriter or singer. And once you've got that audience, you can tell all kinds of other stories. So I think the best music films are not just about music.

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