There are few genres of film that are as appealing to a wide audience as documentaries, because of course, documentaries reflect real life. Docs can be about Korean stunt action schools, the people in terrible movies, uncovering the story behind grizzly murders, comedians living with disease, crossword enthusiasts, the makers of video games, agro-funding, the irreparable damage done to the environment and so much more.
Documentaries have the ability to light us up, spark interest in new things and people and present an argument that will hit its mark and potentially affect change.
The documentary has been around as long as there have been movies. In fact, some might say that the first film was a documentary: when the Lumiere brothers filmed a train pulling into a station, there was no fiction involved. Almost as soon as we could record events on film we began filming the world around us.
I feel certain that I saw documentaries as a child, but the first doc I remember really having an impact on me was Dogtown and Z-Boys. The artistry in that film (and holy crap – the editing!) showed me that docs didn’t have to be about how bears raise their young, they could be about anything – and they could make me feel more deeply than any fictional film story ever could. From that point forward, I began hunting down documentaries.
Obviously I am far from the only person who feels this way. Here in Toronto we are home to one of the only documentary-only film festivals in the world. The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival starts on April 25, 2013 and we thought there couldn’t possibly be a better subject to dedicate our April Issue to than documentaries.
Of course Canada has a long history with the documentary. The National Film Board was founded in 1939 to create films that would connect Canadians to one another by depicting the everyday lives of people living in every region of our vast country. While the NFB is an institution in this country, producing many of our best documentary features, their original purpose was to produce films for the government. We’ll take you back to that time and discuss their first films, reflecting on the organization they have become.
As part of our ongoing commitment to shining a light on local talent we’ll share five Canadian documentary filmmakers you should have your eye on, as well as a look at the funding situation for documentary filmmakers everywhere, but especially in Canada.
We’re also going to bring you a look at some of the people behind documentary films with a look at the Maysles Brothers in Cinema Revisited and the love/hate (mostly hate) relationship the world has with Ken Burns. We’ll bring you a spotlight on DocSpace and help explain Cinema Verite. Finally we will see if A Married Couple makes the cut for Essential Canadian Cinema.
See you at the movies.
Toronto Film Scene