Friday, 7 April 2017

The 7th Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Documentary Film - Capturing The Friedmans (2003) - Andrew Jarecki

Since the turn of the 21st century, the medium of the documentary film has become with each year more and more widely accepted as a part of the mainstream arts culture. Andrew Jarecki’s 2003 film, Capturing The Friedmans, is one of the greatest examples of contemporary documentary cinema. Jarecki, initially making a short film, Just A Clown, about children’s birthday entertainers in New York, became acquainted with David Friedman, whose father Arnold and brother Jesse had pled guilty to child sexual abuse. The film follows the investigation of the scandal of the 1980s, and the wave of media coverage and hysteria that it caused in the local community. Not only does it cover the facts and evidence presented in the case, but it presents a well-balanced ambiguity. Jarecki refuses to pass judgment upon the guilt or innocence of Arnold and Jesse, instead presenting the full story and allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions. This moral murkiness creates a strange relationship between us and the Friedmans: as the drama unfolds, we are no longer mere observers, our position and emotional feelings being complicit with their story. It is accentuated all the more so because we are invited, through the plethora of archived home movies (the Friedmans excessively documented their own lives, and this includes the tribulations of the family through the ongoing trials of Arnold and Jesse) and the frankness of the interviewees. Such a brilliant, multimodal mixture of storytelling techniques makes Capturing The Friedmans, for all of its troubling subject matter, a highly watchable and engrossing picture that displays a remarkable amount of dexterity, ensuring it can be looked at in many different ways. Winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, it’s a really remarkable piece of work, and I defy anyone who remains indifferent to it, because I’d say it’s damn near impossible not to become in one or another emotionally invested. I know I did.

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