Thursday, March 5, 2015

Jason's Documentary elective

As I'm sure you know, we recently started our second round of electives for the year. My (Jason) elective is Documentaries, where we'll be both watching and creating films. We've met a few times so far, and I thought you might like a peek at some of what we've watched together: 

We started off with a viewing of Roger & Me, the film that put Michael Moore on the map. Love him or hate him, he certainly knows how to provoke reaction, and we used his film to talk about the different ways a filmmaker can manipulate an audience to make a point. It's more of an essay than a strict documentary, and we talked a lot about how Moore uses contrasting footage (some would say unfairly) to make his points. You don't necessarily have to agree with Moore's politics to appreciate this film, and for some kids, it was surprising to learn that documentaries could be used to humorously advocate a philosophy. (It's also filtered through the history of Flint, Michigan, which helped illuminate some of the problems Michigan has had in recent decades.) 

(Note: We didn't watch this film completely unedited. I opted to omit some some of the more graphic imagery [if you've seen the film, you might recall the bunny scene. We skipped that, but talked about it.] and some of the sections with particularly strong language or adult content [who knew Bob Eubanks had such a mouth?]. If you revisit this film with your child, be aware.)

Since then, we've screened a number of short form documentaries, most of which are available online as of this writing. Check them out!


Frankly, I think the less you know about this one before watching, the better. I will tell you that it's animated, lovely, and about twenty minutes long. 

Sticky from jilli rose on Vimeo.

If you must have more context before diving in, check out this brief article

Lost Buildings

This was a collaboration between the popular radio program (and podcast!) This American Life and graphic novelist Chris Ware. It was originally meant to be shown during a live show in an ornate theater. It was projected on a very large screen, so the images would at times tower over the audience, and at others be small windows into the story. It's about twenty minutes long. 

Lost Buildings from Kobey Teef on Vimeo.


A very short (about three minutes) documentary memorializing a departed loved one. It's a stop motion piece, lively and bittersweet. 

Gan-Gan from Gemma Green-Hope on Vimeo.

TMB Panyee FCThis short is upbeat and fun, and we talked about how it's a little deceptive. While watching it, it quickly becomes clear that it's a recreation with actors, rather than a pure documentary of actual events as they occurred. We talked about the ethics of this. Two of the earlier documentaries are animated, so they're clearly recreations as well. While those didn't trigger any ethical issues, this one did. Nevertheless, it's a fun, interesting little story about a football club in Thailand. 

We've got plenty more ahead, especially as we shift toward making our own films. We've been talking about ideas, and started making plans to bring them into reality. It's been really fun and engaging so far, and we look forward to sharing our work in the future! 

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