The magic of documentary filmmaking

CINEMA: Some of the most talented documentary directors from around the world offer perspective on their approach to filmmaking.

Astra Zoldnere
Zoldnere is a Latvian film director, curator and publicist. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: June 9, 2020
In Their Own Words: Documentary Masters Vol. 1
Author: Alex Heeney Elena Lazic Brett Pardy
Seventh Row,

In Their Own Words: Documentary Masters Vol. 1 by Alex Heeney, Elena Lazic and Brett Pardy is a compilation of interviews with some of the most acknowledged documentary filmmakers of our time. The documentarians talk in detail about the methods they employ to create innovative, engaging, and fascinating non-fictional works of art. Each of the discussed films is a magical world inspired by real-life events.

Switching the point of view

«I wanted to switch the point of view,» says Gianfranco Rosi, whose Fire at Sea (2016) won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale. At that time, European media was overloaded with news and photos about the refugee crisis, offering a one-sided story of immigration. In his film, Rosi observes people living on Lampedusa Island and tells the story of migration from their perspective. He argues that the Italian island is a microcosmic model of Europe. The inhabitants of Lampedusa and the immigrants co-exist but mostly don’t interact with each other. «These two parallel worlds never meet and never interact, but there’s an emotional mood that creates a link between the two of them.»

Gianfranco Rosi-documentary filmmaking-MTR-post1
Fire at Sea, a film by Gianfranco Rosi

In his, We Come as Friends (2014), Hubert Sauper also criticizes a one-sided perspective. Inspired by post-colonial tradition, he searches for a more open approach while exploring the difficult history of South Sudan. Sauper uses voice-over to emphasize how the …

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