Who knew? Who knew that documentary filmmaking would become what it is today? On the one hand it’s been turned upside down into factual entertainment, lifestyle programming, and reality television — a significant kind of coffee-table-book-cum-game-show industry that provides jobs and countless hours of easy consumption. On the other hand, there’s an international elite of prestige documentary filmmakers making extreme documentaries — these works and the stars who make them people festivals around the world and presumably make money. The breakout filmmaker for this tendency of course was Michael Moore. For me, Wasteland is a good example of an extreme documentary. It’s about a world famous New York modern artist, Vic Muniz, who makes a film – and art – with the poorest of the poor — garbage pickers in the world’s largest garbage dump on the edge of Rio de Janeiro. There are big screen shots of massive amounts of garbage being plowed or dumped with hordes of people scrambling over it looking for anything useful. So documentary is big movies on the one hand and reality/lifestyle on the other. In any case, in Canada the production of documentaries went down 30% in one year. There is barely a window available on television. Culture, non-profit, and documentary are not to be mentioned in polite company. Loftier goals for Canadian culture and Canadian television were of a certain time … that is over.
… Hopefully happier notes soon to come.