with Jorge Campos and Luís Mendonça about the films Stravinsky (Canadá, 1966, 49') and Lonely Boy (Canadá, 1962, 26'), by Roman Kroitor and Wolf Koenig and Candid Eye.
X-RAYDOC proposes to analyze films whose importance is indisputable for the History of Documentary film-making in which the relationship with the other, in context, is highlighted as a structuring element. This relationship has consequences at different levels, from the outset in terms of narrative solutions shaped according to both ethical and aesthetic criteria. Hence, since the real – the documentary's raw material – is made up of change, the result of a multiplicity of combination declinations, practically infinite, inevitable in a cinema that challenges its time and who inhabits it. This is the gaze’s domain. Therefore, from a whole theory. There are documentaries that influenced the outcome of wars, led to the acquittal of those condemned to death, shed new light on acquisitions, denounced unsustainable situations, changed the lives of thousands of people. There are documentaries that have changed cinema itself. X-RAYDOC is part of this singularity, seeking to go further.
When one mentions the contribution of Canadian cinema by the National Film Board (NFB) to what would later be called Cinéma-Vérité and Direct Cinema, the name that immediately springs to mind is that of Michel Brault. Brault, an extraordinary filmmaker, was, in fact, not only decisive for the emancipation of Quebec cinema, but also in the creation of a new type of documentary. His collaboration with Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin in Cronique d’ un Été (1960) would place him more in the field of Vérité than in the field of direct cinema.
The same does not happen with the production of Unit B, anglophone, of the NFB. In 1957, Unit B released a television documentary series called Candid Eye. Therein lies something like the consecration of a spontaneity that has Cartier-Bresson's decisive moment as its starting point. Observation prevails. Intervention is avoided. The films shown here are by two of its most important filmmakers, along with Terence Macarteney-Filgate: Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor.
Both Lonely Boy (1962) and Stravinsky (1966) are posterior to the last broadcast of the series, but the principles are the same, except for one aspect: there is a slight tendency towards participation in them. Michel Brault was an admirer of his English-speaking colleagues. He even considered Koenig to be one of the best, if not the best cameraman of his time. The admiration was mutual. In fact, both were accomplices in the unique adventure of pursuing the utopia of reality. They exchanged experiences. For example, in the sound design of these two films is Marcel Carrière, an innovative genius, a regular partner of French-speaking documentary production.
Final note: Recovering Candid Eye, despite being relatively forgotten, is not equivalent to recovering a kind of lost link from direct cinema. It's remembering that it is no longer just the name of a television program to identify with a way of making cinema that is still current.
An informal portrait of the great composer Igor Stravinsky organized around the recording of his Symphony of Psalms by the Canadian Symphony Orchestra. Already at an advanced age, but always seductive and disconcerting, Stravinsky is followed in the light of a vérité style that combines the observation and intervention of filmmakers with a narrative constructed in editing according to the procedures of classical cinema.
The meteoric journey from obscurity to global phenomenon of Paul Anka, pop icon followed by millions of teenagers. Anka is seen both on stage and backstage in a register that privileges spontaneity, although without dispensing with the use of interviews. The point of view’s clarity on the method of construction of the star-commodity image is rare in direct cinema. Lonely Boy anticipates films like The Beatles in the USA (1964) by the Maysles brothers and the legendary Don’t Look Back (1967) by D. A. Pennebaker about Bob Dylan.
PhD in Communication Sciences from the University of Santiago de Compostela, expert in Documentary Film, professor of Higher Education, journalist, filmmaker and cultural programmer.
Luis holds a PhD in Communication Sciences from the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the Nova University of Lisbon (NOVA FCSH) and has a master's degree on the specialty of Cinema and Television. He teaches cinema and photography, is author and programmer.