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Filling the void in cinema

Movie documentaries and storytelling

What is happening to the documentary? ?tre et Avoir and Spellbound, the two big non-fiction hits to have received recent cinema releases, are respectively about a soft-spoken French teacher and a spelling contest. They are stories which make people feel good – in quiet contrast to the US and British documentary tradition, which can be traced back to John Grierson’s GPO film unit of the 1930s, and which was developed to make people feel bad. “The camera is yours; the microphone is yours. Now tell the bastards exactly what it’s like to live in slums,” Grierson’s sister Ruby told subjects…

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