Luke Moody on Hybrid Documentary

Have to confess that I have been using the term “hybrid”, whenever I have been talking about the new tendencies in the documentary genre. Without really being able to get closer to what it is, where it comes from, what ethical questions that are linked to it, the relationship between viewer and maker, the “self” in the film and so on so forth.

Therefore it is great that English filmmaker Luke Moody, who also works for Britdoc, has written an informative analysis of “hybrid tendencies in documentary film”. Moody takes us by the hand and gives us food for thought. He exemplifies – his starting point is “The Act of Killing” – and sets up some categories. His text and approach could be a very welcomed theme for a whole seminar on documentary filmmaking of today. We could easily skip a pitching session or two, not to forget one of the technically based transmedia gatherings.

Here are two small quotes from the long article by Moody, but please read it all (link below):

Recognition of new waves and emergent trends tend to overlook the specific ideas and patterns of filmmaking. The ‘hybrid documentary’ is not a subgenre, it is a mode of tactical filmmaking. To come to terms with these modus operandi, rather than looking upon them as a singular movement, there’s a need to trace each trajectory of complex, rich methodology…

How do we assess the ethical and aesthetic merits of a film that does not attempt to be more factual than fictional? On a spectrum of honesty-manipulation? Form-function? Responsible-irresponsible? How are the filmmakers assessing their own codes of operation? Paradoxically, the audience awareness of fact production and manipulation allows the filmmaker to negotiate a new level of trust through shared transparency: “This is how I shall produce the story, come with me on this journey.”…

The increase of audience trust permits a shift in ethical contracts between filmmaker and subject, a shared ground of risk and experiment…

Photo from Bombay Beach (Alma Har’el, 2011), one of the films mentioned.

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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.

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