Documentary both reveals and hides stories

‘Documentaries always hide great stories’: this was the phrase that Mark Reid, Head of Education at the British Film Institute kept in his mind from my presentation in the Film Literacy day in La Ciotat, south of France a month ago. He added: “we usually think that documentaries tell stories, but you interestingly showed how many the hide…”.

A Melies studio photo decorated the programme.

A Melies studio photo decorated the programme.

In my presentation I deliberately deconstructed a short length documentary I did 3 years ago about a traveler child in the suburbs of Athens. The “truth” which was guiding me through my research and shooting period, was completely challenged and subverted a year after the film had finished. I had chosen the young girl as a character because she wanted to get out of the ghetto and had a wish to continue school. This girl, never made it: she gradually dropped out following the majority of her community. As it proved, two “directors” were not enough to help her not quit. Firstly, the school director, a unique teacher well known for her systematic efforts to bring and keep Roma kids in the school and second, me, a  film director who cared enough not only during shooting but also after. Truth as always, is bigger than documentaries.

The sister of my protagonist learning life in a muddy road.

The sister of my protagonist learning life in a muddy road.

The educational aspect

In a film literacy context, the presentation developed to show how the film itself gives us several chances to read it as a space for communication, information exchange, language development and form creation . Meaning that documentary can be very useful from a media education point of view, something rare, as, usually, fiction films are used for this purpose.

 

Young professionals become Documentarists

Learning interviewing among the olive trees

Learning interviewing among the olive trees

participants lookig at rushes

Viewing rushes and selecting materials

The environmental association APARE invited me to guide a 4 day intensive documentary workshop for young professionals of the environmental and social sciences sector during their research for the Cote Blue area near Marseillles. It was a great team which advanced their knowledge and consciousness on what a documentary might be. MA students and young professionals from 4 countries added with their questions and initiatives to drafting a script about their area of investigation. The team worked from idea to research and from planning to shooting. The most interesting part was editing where working in small teams they managed to both learn and develop rough cuts, alternatives and challenge their initial research.

An international team from 4 countries:

An international team from 4 countries: UK, France, Italy, Greece

A short making of of the workshop