Monday, November 28, 2011

Pitfalls of perfection

I did a shoot with a philospher a few months ago and the discussion came upon technical perfection. He mentioned that Americans are often obsessed with technical perfection. He himself was less concerned about technical perfection: getting the message across was more important to him.
His words got me thinking: was I obsessed with technical perfection? Looking at my work, I would not draw that conclusion ;-) I have a lot to learn. I am far from perfect and so is my work. But I do strive for a certain aesthetic ideal. What that is, I cannot define and it is certainly different for every project. But there are certain qualities I like. To name a cliché, I like (as many of us) most of Philip Bloom's aesthetic approach to shooting video. He makes 'everyday things' look extraordinary. His work is visually subtle, warm, never over the top. And most importantly, it is 'real'. In the sense that it is not contrived. It stems from genuine curiosity. But I'm digressing. Good form = content, is perhaps what I'm trying to say.
I saw a film at IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) and it won the Public and Special Jury Award. It's called '5 broken camera's'. (great title) and tells the story of a Palestinian filming his life, his family, his village and the suffering they experience. The camera work is not pretty. It is point and shoot footage. But this Palestinian man was not interested in making aesthetically pleasing pictures while filming the bloody history of his village & people.
I was moved to tears by this film.

It is is good to strive for technical perfection. But beware of preoccupation with looks and styles. Pleasing aesthetics can provide a momentary rush but a true story will leave a lasting impression.


  1. Here you can see how dangerous documentary film making is: the film is one big lie. But the audience is moved to tears. Beware of liars, particularly those that make you feel emotional.

  2. That is quite an allegation. Why are you saying this? Who are you to have this knowledge that the film is a lie?

  3. Study the history of the conflict. Do not believe the liars, go for the cold facts. Actually the documentary to make would be to expose those merciless liars. Read Ephraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed. There is a lot more but this would be a good start. IDFA is morally bankrupt because of their blatant hatred for jews. Last year they had George Sluizers film about Israel and the 'Palestinians'. Readvthis article about that:

  4. I asked what proof you have that this film is a lie, and I don't think your comments about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict address my question.
    Who are you? A filmmaker?
    Have you actually seen the film?

    People get crushed in political battle and military warfare, those are the fact and that's what this film in my view is about.

    This film is a joint Palestinian/Israeli production, by the way.

    I want this blog to talk film and film only, ok?

  5. I am a filmmaker and I know the power of the emotions that film can stirr. Film makers have a responsibility to be loyal to the truth. Idfa has shown that it does not care the least about the truth.
    I appreciate your blog very highly. I am not a politician. In the Israeli - Arab conflict the liars need to be exposed.
    If you want me to I can respond in greater detail. I am away on a trip now, my earliest respons would be end of December.
    A great Jewish sage once wrote, “The truth can hurt like a thorn, at first; but in the end it blossoms like a rose.”

  6. You still haven't answered my questions whether or not you have proof that this film is a lie. And whether or not you have actually seen this film.

    The 'truth' is that there has been much wrongdoing from both sides and that there is a lot of people dying who just want to live in peace.

    The truth is perhaps also that if I were an Israeli or Palestinian in the Middle East I would fear&hate the other side. If I was black in the USA a good chance I would resent or hate many whites, if I was Moroccan in Holland I would be a frustrated and angry man.

    You know what I mean? There are many truths, depending on who you are and how far you want to delve back into history.

    Next time we communicate I'd like it to be about film- let's see something you made!

  7. No, there are not 'many truths'. That is post modern relativism. More later. Promise.