Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary Pepita Ferarri

Capturing Reality, a National Film Board of Canada production, is a documentary about documentary cinema. Surprisingly, it's not a very well put together documentary. Nevertheless, the film accrues many interesting moments and succeeds in most of its goals through director Pepita Ferarri's interviews with over 30 documentary filmmakers, including Albert Maysles (Salesman), Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line) and Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes, Act of God). Though not a thorough history of documentary film, it's an engaging examination of the art form. The film navigates fairly standard territory: talking head subjects, inter-cut with clips from films, chat about the creative process, what constitutes documentary, manipulation versus truth and more technical aspects of the form. We hear from a litany of documentarians — most have well-honed thoughts and feelings about the art form — and they are all passionate about filmmaking. While there is much to be learned from the various filmmakers interviewed, the film still feels somewhat clinical. It would have been interesting if more than one director were interviewed at the same time, allowing for discussion and debate. As a semi-academic introductory to documentary cinema, Capturing Reality could serve as an ideal primer. It's just surprising that a film containing interviews with luminaries in the field of documentary would be clumsily edited and awkwardly paced. Special features include a second disc of interview clips, arranged by both theme and director; it's more of the same, but in a good way. (Mongrel Media)