One of the best documentaries recently is ”The Interrupters” (photo) by Steve James, who was also the man behind masterpieces as ”Hoop Dreams” and ”Stevie”. Film journalist Jennifer Merlin has interviewed James, site address below, and out of that comes many interesting comments from a modest true documentarian.
Here is a clip from the long and good interview:
There are all kinds of different films and all kinds of hybrids. I like all kinds of films and all kinds of documentaries, but I see a lot of films and thing, gee, I could never make that — not from a judgmental standpoint, but just because I don’t think that way. I’m just not that kind of storyteller. So, you know, I’m old fashioned. I like cinéma vérité.
The films that had the biggest impact on me when I was getting interested in film were the verite classics, on the one hand, like Barbara Kopple’s work or the Maysles.
The other films that interested me, and I think my films are a kind of hybrid with these, are Michael Apted‘s UP Series and especially The Times of Harvey Milk, which I saw at a particular moment of time when I was starting to love documentaries and I was just struck by how powerful, and insightful and emotional that film was without being sappy or anything like that. And those are both films that are interview driven films. They’re not verite films. So I think my style is a kind of a hybrid.