Capturing Reality Review
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Once upon a time, documentaries were widely believed to be bland and uninteresting—something that no one would dream of watching outside a classroom. But then came documentary filmmakers like Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore, who made documentaries that were more than just informative. Soon, people started to realize that documentaries didn’t have to be boring. They could actually be thrilling or moving or even entertaining. If you don’t believe me, try Air Guitar Nation, King of Kong, or even Chris Rock’s new documentary, Good Hair. But if you know exactly what I’m talking about—and you, too, have become a documentary fan—you’ll learn more about this fascinating art form in Pepita Ferrari’s Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary.

Yep, that’s right. Capturing Reality is a documentary about documentaries—a film that turns the camera around and focuses on those often little-known filmmakers who truly believe that truth is more fascinating than fiction. For the most part, it’s simply a collection of interviews with documentary filmmakers—from Werner Herzog (Little Dieter Needs to Fly) to Errol Morris (Standard Operating Procedure)—who talk about their art. They discuss why they do what they do—and, especially, how they do it. From scripts to subjects to sound, the filmmakers explain how each piece comes together to create the final film. They speak in technical terms, explaining things like the editing process, but they also talk in theoretical terms, offering their views on, for example, filmmakers who manipulate their subjects and construct their own “truth.” And, to help illustrate their points, they show clips from their various films.

For aspiring documentarians, Capturing Reality is invaluable—because it’s filled with tips and techniques and advice that will help you get started. Don’t expect any definite answers, though—because while the film brings up a number of issues, each filmmaker offers his or her own perspective. So, instead of a how-to, it’s more of an ongoing discussion.

For documentary fans, meanwhile, Capturing Reality offers an interesting look at a generally underrated art form. Be warned, though, that the film takes an undoubtedly serious approach. You won’t hear from most of the more mainstream documentary filmmakers, like Spurlock or Moore (and when Moore is mentioned, it’s definitely not in a positive light). But while it isn’t the light and entertaining kind of documentary that will have viewers flocking to pick up a copy, it’s still an insightful film on the art of documentary filmmaking. It will introduce you to talented filmmakers that you’ve probably miss, and it will give you a whole new list of documentaries that you’ll want to watch. Most of all, it’ll give you a whole new appreciation for the work that these documentary filmmakers do—and you’re guaranteed to find yourself paying closer attention to things like sound and music the next time you sit down to watch your favorite documentary.

DVD Review:
The DVD of Capturing Reality comes in a two-disc set. The first disc includes the 97-minute main feature, while the second disc offers approximately four more hours of footage, which is divided into two parts. You can choose to watch the footage by a specific filmmaker—selecting his or her picture from the menu and choosing from the selections offered. Or you can choose to watch footage that’s been sorted according to topic.

Again, this is all pretty interesting stuff for casual viewers, but it’s invaluable for aspiring documentary filmmakers. The topics are interesting, and the filmmakers offer all kinds of useful insights and advice. So while most viewers will want to take the time to browse through the additional footage, filmmakers will definitely want to keep a copy handy, for repeated reference.

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