Ukrainian Darya Bassel, part of the DocuDays team and producer of My Father is my Mother’s Brother, is at HotDocs in Toronto and writes on FB: “I think there’s one really important thing. We have to ban voice over and text captions and (yes, you gonna suffer now) music from documentary cinema. Just for one year. I’m sure the results gonna surprise everyone. Just imagine nobody thinks you’re an idiot anymore and each small thing has to be explained to you. Finally you’re allowed to have little bit of your own understanding of what’s going on and not only follow the storyline but also reveal those incredibly beautiful details which are usually hidden…”
Sounds like bringing back the Dogma… but I have so often had the same feeling as Darya. That a voice over is explaining what you can see for yourself, television has played its role here, and that music is meant to tell you what to feel – or to fill in gaps where nothing is really happening, as a Danish editor, just out of film school, told me they were taught.
BUT remembering Chris Marker and many other film essayists, a voice over can be a fine piece of literature in itself, the personal voice, and it is my impression, as so many documentarians have given up on television support and rules, that the first person narration is being used more and more. Let me just mention the two Danes Jørgen Leth and Jon Bang Carlsen as examples. As for music, yes take it easy please, and/or watch Pirjo Honkasalo’s masterpiece “3 Rooms of Melancholia” that Sanna Salmenkallio composed music for. No more muzak in documentaries!
So good that Darya raises this question and congratulations with the film at the festival.