The Balagan Film Series
had its final screening of the season earlier this week with "Our Departed," a program comprised of work from filmmakers who passed away in 2011. As co-curator Jeff Silva noted, it's been a rough year for the film community in terms of losses, and he likened the Balagan program to another take on the "in memorium" section of the Oscars - a flipside to the usual Hollywood tribute since it featured work from very independent filmmakers like George Kuchar, Robert Breer, Owen Land, Karen Aqua (whose film Twist of Fate was screened on a great 35mm print), Ricky Leacock, Raúl Ruiz and Omar Amiralay.
Some of the films I'd heard of and was eager to see - like Leacock's Chiefs, about a police chief convention in Hawaii right after the 1968 riots at the Chicago Democratic Convention - and others, like Owen Land's 3-minute No Sir Orison, were pleasant surprises.
Last week, I lucked out in getting to see and hear 2 presentations by documentary greats: Errol Morris and Frederick Wiseman. Both gave talks within a stone's throw of the LEF New England headquarters in Cambridge.
On Tuesday, Errol Morris spoke at Harvard's Graduate School of Design about "Investigating with a Camera," illustrating his ideas with clips from his films. He's a writer as well as a filmmaker and a very animated speaker, which made for an interesting talk and Q&A about filmmaking as a process of assembling evidence. He was adamant about there being a definte truth and reality to events, a truth that the filmmaker needs to investigate and find out.
He used to be an actual private investigator, but Morris' documentaries are very far from being depositions, and I liked the point that another of the speakers at the event, Harvard professor Elaine Scarry, made about how his films manage to leave room for the unique point of view and unknowable experiences of each of his subjects, even as he's...