Veteran Canadian documentary director Peter Wintonick (Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media) presents this information packed overview of the roots and future of cinéma vérité (AKA kino pravda, candid eye, cinéma direct, free cinema…). The film offers interviews with 21 of the biggest names in documentary and documentary-style filmmaking including Bob Drew, Richard Leacock, Wolf Koenig, Jean Rouch, and D.A. Pennebaker. They speak of the miraculous technical advances such as handheld cameras and synchronous sound, which allowed a number of cameras to shoot simultaneously with one overlapping soundtrack. But of all the interviews that make up this brief but decisive overview of the cinéma vérité movement the one I liked best was with Fred Wiseman. His rant against cinéma vérité as a definable thing struck me as the truest moment of the film, a film that is supposed to expose the truth about the truth movement in cinema. He made a note that all films are about manipulation whether it be Godard or Disney. To quote Wiseman, “everything about these sort of movies is a distortion.” The documentary follows the progression of cinéma vérité from its birth in Russia in 1919 to its present day incarnation as a mode of story-telling in Homicide and The Blair Witch Project. Definitely a worthy viewing, though what the hell was Floria Sigismondi doing in this movie?

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