[Film Fest] I know that it's not a completely new phenomenon, but for some reason it feels more prevalent at Sundance this year. In the documentary competition, filmmakers apparently have decided that the most compelling subjects are in their own home--or at least in their own genetic lineage.
Who's making a movie about rabble-rousing civil rights attorney William Kunstler (William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe)? His kids. Who’s interviewing Martin Garbus about free-speech issues (Shouting Fire)? His daughter. Who’s exploring the story of Mexican revolutionary hero and one-time president Plutarco Calles (El General)? His great-granddaughter.
Now maybe it’s a quaint notion in a post-Michael Moore movie universe to think of documentaries as works of cinematic journalism. But you have to question, even more so than usual, what happens when a filmmaker is approaching a subject about which they can have little or no objectivity. Or is it worth asking whether it’s even desirable for a filmmaker to attempt journalistic distance, no matter the project? I have only seen one of the three films in question as of yet, so this is not about their specific merits. I’m just left uneasy by what happens when the eye on the other end of the viewfinder is daddy’s little girl (or boy). (Scott Renshaw)