Cheri and the girlsI’m not writing this post because I love documentaries.

I’m writing it because I love good stories. [tag]Real characters[/tag]. An element of truth, even if that truth is only a shining moment of [tag]true exuberance caught on film[/tag].

I think [tag]Francois Truffaut[/tag] hit the nail on the head when he criticized many – including the English – for creating literary based films which he thought served only to ‘translate’ a story which is often only advanced by nature of its dialogue. Who knew his criticisms would be appropriate in 2008. [tag]Literary based cinema[/tag] is the soup du jour everyday in Hollywood.

Who could possibly make narrative film today without a 3 act dialogue driven structure? There are a few people doing it. But they’re not getting the recognition they deserve.

This is why I love documentary stories concerning the lives of individuals. No script. Only exuberance, pain, longing, sadness, and joy. Everything which means anything to us as human beings.

In documentaries, a success or failure is not just an ending to the story in a film, it’s a facet of a person’s life. Whether you know that person or you think of them as the main character in a film, their daily experience is their world and I assure you they take it very seriously.

Is that grounds for self importance? It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want to get into an Ayn Randian discussion on ego. But in terms of a cinematic experience – the kind which makes you want to jump out of your seat and yell to yourself, “I want to live!” – that documentary subject, that main character is your movie. You must live through their experiences. I believe it is the closest we will ever get (besides some questionable technology looming on the horizon) to honestly living in another person’s shoes.

This is also the central reason why I wan’t to stay away from [tag]celebrity Manifesto[/tag]s’ as much as possible. Documentary subjects often lose their exuberance and honesty when they’ve been in front of the camera for years – or even days… We will cover some household name folks from various movements, but it will be in limited amounts and only when we are able to line up folks with integrity.

When pushy people ask me what the French have “ever” done right, I insist that film is on a list of four or five disciplines (including cuisine) where I think they have outdone most of the competition. Wow, you’d think I was moving there or something, expecting a welcome wagon.

Although I’m sure a few people would be happy to see it happen, I’m afraid I love US soil too much.