FILMING REALITY

The camera is like a razor blade. It slices into what’s real, taking samples to piece together what could be called the language of reality. The camera produces an illusion of what’s real. It depicts what may be true rather than truth itself, all the while revealing the artificiality of the image. A film (particularly a documentary) sometimes serves as a good conscience. It can speak to the truthfulness of the words heard and things seen, of possible truths but never The Truth. As such, it can alternately be a tool to expose and reveal but also an instrument for intellectual exploration or poetic adventure. So really, anything goes. There is no categorical imperative dictating the angle or axis, the nature of the frame or its composition. Filming demands a new take on understanding what’s real.

For me, documentary filmmaking, at its apex, is a doubly passionate look at life, through filming and editing, which are inextricably linked. I believe, as Quebec writer Jacques Ferron once said, that Reality is hidden behind reality. Indeed, the truth is not set in stone; there are often many truths, and it is this complexity that the film must convey at the risk of sparking controversy. But what a risk, given that controversy is a natural dialectic as we construct what is real, because there is no one, single truth, except for those naïve enough to believe in the so-called “media truth.” In the search for truth, confrontation is unavoidable. My brand of filmmaking rests on that philosophical precondition. It is the essence of my research, my preparatory writing, my aesthetic choices, my filming and editing style.

The audience is engaged by this connection to reality. It does not have the luxury of remaining on the other side of the screen, like careful observers of the events of history, passively observing the unexpected twists as individuals meet. I do everything I can to ensure they have no choice but to abandon their role as witness-spectators. I do everything I can to draw them inside the film through controversy, to awaken understanding. When it works, the film has succeeded.
I speak to individuals, telling of an individual destiny. As a result, I have an individual writing style, unique to the intent and to my relationship with that intent. At this point, I’m not looking to make others happy. I’m trying to be as real and as fair as possible to the reality of those involved, to the situations and events. I refuse to close the door on multiple truths. I believe it is important to leave the door open, for facts and opinions to be respected, not cancel each other out, just as it is important for me not to yield to trends or self-censorship.

In making the films that I do, I am following a path that is as philosophical as it is cinematographic. I challenge the “media truth,” which rests on the illusion that it is possible to say all there is to say about an event, a person, a situation, a destiny—because I know that it is not possible. Instead, I try to say all that can be known about that event, that person, that situation, that destiny to spark a new awareness that will inspire the audience and society to pause and reflect. My job as a filmmaker thus remains necessary in the quest to uncover what’s real, somewhere between truth and controversy.

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