George Bocher: Documentaries of Today

Food for thought. This text is written by a student from the Zelig Film School for Documentary at the exam in June after one year of the three year long studies. George Bocher has chosen direction for his further studies:

The essence of what documentary can be today is shown in the Canadian  film “Manufactured Landscapes” (Jennifer Baichwal) in the very first shot. A very long shot, a never-ending camera-travel through a Chinese factory-hall.

It’s the most impressive dolly shot I have ever seen. Why is it so great?

Because it shows the conflict between our expectations for fictional representation of reality and the representation in documentaries/reportage.

The usual standard-pan inside the hall we would have seen in a TV-reportage would have made it easy for the viewer to swallow the image, to sort it intohis/her categories. It is through this dolly shot that we experience the full dimensions of the hall and the nature of the labour in it.

The sense of a motivated travel of the eye that the dolly usually promises is turned into a nightmarish caricature as we only see the ever-repeating landscape of people at machines.  Strangely it is the use of means from fiction-films that makes this reality more real for us again. I think this is one of the paradox documentary makers have to live with today.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3859