Doc/Fest 2013 Day Four



The weekend begins with an early morning Q&A with Walter Murch, before moving on to all manner of activity. We’re really looking forward to Mirage Men, a documentary adaptation of Mark Pilkington’s book on disinformation and the UFO industry. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed (here) for the most up to date commentary, and check back here for more thorough developments throughout the day.


Walter Murch: In Conversation – Walter Murch’s masterclass in film editing might just be the highlight of this year’s DocFest. It’s odds on favourite for the title of best thing I’ve ever seen at the festival too. Utilising a combination of tech and theory, in a manner reminiscent of a Scorsese, Murch providing a deep insight in to the craft of his life’s work in an incredibly accessible manner (My wife, who knows of Murch’s work but not his name found it to be very enjoyable too).

Murch is very much the raconteur, and is very inspiring. He referred to his own experiences within the different facets if the studio system in exploring the art of the cut, which was followed up by a generous question and answer session. Citing Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness Of Being he guided the audience through that film’s most famous scene, in which contemporously captured dramatic footage was cut alongside actual documentary footage shot some two decades earlier to remarkable effect.

Mirage Men – My first real dud of the festival, and I say that as a fan of Mark Pilkington’s book, upon which the film is based. I’m not really sure how the film manages to be so markedly different from the book, which reads like a Louis Theroux/Jon Ronson-style alterna-travelogue in to the dark heart of a previously under-explored portion of Americana, but it misses the mark by some way.

Blackfish – Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Sundance hit is an entertaining watch. Focussing on Tilikum, a whale in captivity and performing at Seaworld, and his reign of violence across a period of 30 years, Blackfish is the kind of populist documentary that will no doubt do very well on the commercial circuit.

The film feels stylistically similar in many ways to The Imposter, as Cowperthwaite builds up a tension-strewn scenario around the fate of the doomed Dawn Brancheau, while an over-emphasis on conjecture (with an active resentment towards science) does the film no favours.

Muscle Shoals – A great final film for a Saturday evening. Overseen by Rick Hill from a small and unassuming studio in Alabama, the sound of the modern rhythm and blues recording was defined by a group of unlikely figures. From Hill himself, to The Swampers, the in-house backing band, the FAME studios affirmed a stylistic tone upon the music industry that prevails to this day. Great music and insightful contributions make for an enjoyable 90 minutes.

Muscle Shoals led in to my lone party of the festival. Said evening has gone down in DocFest legend, following an incident inside the night club. Bemused by the whole thing, I captured it via Vine, here, here, here, here, here and here. While the night itself proved unexpectedly dramatic, the evening did serve as a great example of just how social a festival DocFest is. As I drink and conversed in to the night with faces from Sight & Sound and Little White Lies amongst others the communal feel of the festival was really emphasised.



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