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From the Editor, Spring/Summer 1989

By Denise Bigio

The failure of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to nominate Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line continues to raise serious questions about Academy voting procedure. One of the most recurrent criticisms levelled at the Academy focuses on the fact that, unlike other categories, documentarians are not nominated by their peers, but by a committee made up of made up of members from all other branches of the Academy. Former IDA President Robert Guenette addresses this in a new column for letters, and we are interested in readers opinions on the subject.

In this rich double issue Nicholas Broomfield is interviewed by Bill Reed on the eve of the release of Driving Me Crazy, a hilarious account of the sturm und drang of documentary filmmaking. The director (with Joan Churchill) of Soldier Girls and Tattooed Tears who currently lives in England discusses the significant differences between making documentaries in England and the United States.

Marcel Ophuls has been making documentaries for over 20 years, exploring human behavior under extreme situations. By examining Ophuls' techniques Robert Spiegelman reveals how in Hotel Terminus Ophuls rescues the nearly forgotten wartime and postwar past to discover its impact on the present.

Bruce Weber talks to Steven Wingate about the visually uncompromising style of Let's Get Lost and the influence of De Sica, Rossellini, Fellini and the westerns of John Ford and George Stevens. Is La Dolce Vita a feature or a kind of documentary? Aren't John Ford's films like great documentaries of a bunch of his friends, he asks.

The release of Randall Adams from Florida's death row as a result of The Thin Blue Line affirms that documentary as investigative journalism can effect substantial change. Nina Rosenblum's Female High Security Unit may be another such example. In an interview with Annette Insdorf the director of America and Lewis Hine exposes how selected women prisoners have been held in permanent underground isolation and under conditions of extreme sensory deprivation.

Producer/director St Clair Bourne looks back to his beginning in filmmaking as a member of the productions staff of the Black Journal public television series in 1968 and examines how images in U.S. media are influenced by the political conditions of the times.

Tatjana Manovich's article translated from the Russian is a personal introduction to the work of Estonian filmmaker Marc Soosaar.