Friday, May 30, 2008


Recount is showing this month on HBO. The film is a docudrama about the Florida election crisis of November and December 2000, which was ended when a Republican majority on the Supreme Court stopped a recount of the Florida votes and awarded the election to George W. Bush.

In the New Yorker, Hendrik Herzberg comments that Recount's "over-all factual accuracy has been attested to by close observers of the events it portrays. It reminds us of some essential truths about the election and its aborted recount: that more Floridians went to their polling places to vote for Al Gore than for George W. Bush; that a full and fair count would have confirmed the voters’ preference; that the White House was awarded to Bush, the half-million-vote loser across the nation, by a 5-4 Supreme Court diktat. The injustice of Bush v. Gore was obvious at the time; its sequel has proved it to be a tragedy."

Hendrik Herzberg, "Memory Lapse," The New Yorker, 2 June 2008.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Award Nomination

The Rhetoric of the New Political Documentary has been nominated for the 2008 Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11

CNN announced today that documentary filmmaker Michael Moore plans to release a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11 in the spring of 2009. The film, which does not yet have a title, reportedly will not focus on the Bush administration, and will instead examine the United States' relationship with the international community. Fahrenheit 9/11 is the highest grossing documentary film of all time.

Moore's decision to release the film after the 2008 presidential election raises an interesting issue with respect to the era of The New Political Documentary. One of the defining features of the 2004 political documentaries was their release before the election, and their apparent goal of altering the outcome of the race. It will be interesting to see if other filmmakers forge ahead this fall with a new class of political documentaries, or if they will follow Moore's lead and concentrate on larger issues that transcend the 2008 election.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Standard Operating Procedure

The new Errol Morris documentary, Standard Operating Procedure, was released in April amid much controversy. In addition to the film's controversial subject -- the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal -- Morris admits to having paid many of the individuals interviewed in the film, a highly uncommon practice in documentary film. In the end, the film leaves the viewer to ponder a question that resonates with all documentary film: can a photograph change the world?

Saturday, May 3, 2008


MediaStorm is a production company founded by Brian Storm. The company produces independent documentaries using easily available technologies.

A story on Apple's web site describes the technology Storm uses for his projects in collaboration with other artists.

Yom Hashoah

Yesterday, May 2, was Holocaust Remembrance Day -- Yom Hashoah. The Holocaust marks a break in history, a series of events so terrible that it seemed to challenge one's sense of what it means to be human. What is one to think and feel after the Holocaust?

Documentarians have made their own contributions to the question of witnessing and remembering the Holocaust. The image here is from Alain Resnais, Nuit et Brouillard -- Night and Fog -- (1955), available from Criterion. Resnais combines color footage that he shot in the abandoned camps with black and white archival footage, opening a dialogue between past and future that draws the viewer into a meditation on response and responsibility, on the difficulty of seeing and acknowledging, remembering and forgetting.

In the Gazette (Montreal), Jeff Heinrich marked the day with a useful list of Holocaust documentaries.

See also --

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum