Friday, November 14, 2008

My Kid Could Paint That - Filmmaker's role?

After watching "My Kid Could Paint That" on Friday (and after our short conversation during seminar) I was still left with lots of questions. One thing brought up both in the film and in our discussion was the role of the filmmaker in making the documentary. We talked about this before with the bridge/suicide video (should the filmmaker have intervened when filming people jumping off the bridge to save the people or should he have been completely distant - and could he have done the latter?) but do you think that his involvement of himself in the film helped the family's cause, hindered it, helped him answer his own questions etc? Basically, how do you think his intervention changed the film as well as others' perceptions of the family?
By the way...people who didn't see it today: Mr. Malone says you will be watching it in January. You can go to the website to see her paintings and some of the story though.


Rachel said...

Bringing himself into the documentary compounded the need for the truth about Marla to be unearthed - the audience can see his indecision. It is no longer an account that is handed to you on a plate with certainties mapped out. I think there is a common element of curiosity between the audience, the documenter-er, and everyone in general trying to make sense of it (including 60 minutes). This is very conflicting with the lady journalist, by the way, because she kept reiterating how voyeuristic the whole production was. Everyone watching the film was antagonized by her, but because of the inconclusive direction of the film (an attempt to make an unbiased judgment, though both sides were biased) still wanted some tangible verdict. At least that is how I experienced it. I had the feeling I should just butt out of their private business, but I also was curious. And I did not like the paranoid, excuse-making father, and wanted him to be guilty of something.

Clarification: "Rachel" = Rachel Dean

alm said...

For me, having the film maker include himself in the documentary changed my entire outlook on the quality of information the film was providing me with. When it was just a glimpse into the families live (at the beginning) then it was easy to picture the film as a secret window, the "truth" caught on camera. However, by including himself I was suddenly reminded that what I was watching was simply another form of media, like my sense perception and logic were finally overpowering my emotional response. I could never truly be myself in front of a camera, let alone the world, and by reinforcing the fact that the film maker was a voyeur in an intimate situation makes me belief that his documentary is not a reliable source to find the "truth".

Sorry if that was confusing!

(alm = Amy Meyer)

KellyR. said...

The thing about the film maker that struck me the most was how unhealthy he looked during the extra clips. His eye lids were very puffy and he said that he couldn't sleep one bit. He obviously is struck no matter the results. This torment that he was going through, not to that extent but I felt the same way. I wondered if I even belonged to judge, like Oliver said in the discussion. I wonder how the family is doing now. One other thing that hit me the most emotionally is how the mother of Marla had that report say during the film's preview at the festival: That Marla couldn't understand, at 7-years-old why people didn't think she created the pieces.
All I can say is this is a very emotionally centered film for me. I really picked up on different things the second time around on the film.
-Kelly Rappe

ZoeW said...

I agree with Amy. By including himself in the documentary it changed the mood/tone of the film from a mainly narrative (although bias in choosing what clips to show) to an opinion. I also think that by filming himself on camera and including his opinions/justification for his new turn in direction it also changed the attitude of the family, which in turn affected the rest of the film. To me it seemed like they agreed at the start so they could have a film to show their side of the story (positive) but as soon he started to question them they changed their outlook in relation to him/the film (negative). His involvement placed a lot of bias in the film - not just his, but how he turned the family away from him/evoked different responses from them (they seemed to turn more emotional at the end when explaining their thoughts as opposed to the more calm and logical explanations at the start). Still undecided as to whether his role made the film worse or better - although i do provoked a change in the family's reasoning and behavior.

Simone S. said...

The filmmaker's presence in the film seemed to diminish the authority he had to promote his film as "the real story", as the truth. However for me, seeing the director and hearing his opinions made me further realize the complexity of the issue. On one hand, the role that the filmmaker chose to take in the movie, detracted from his authority to, "hand the audience the truth on a plate with all certainties mapped out" as Rachel mentioned. But this was beneficial for me as I was able to realize that as a filmmaker he was biased as well. It helped me to think more critically of what was being presented. In incorporating himself into the film, he aligned himself with the audience by struggling to find the truth and take a side. So I think that in this case it was beneficial for him to include himself in the film, lowering his authority from director, supposedly privy to the "truth", to just one of us. Because like us he doesn't know the truth and so who is he to present it to us? Our thought process to figure out what is true parallels his own process in the film.

madibee said...

I did not like the filmmaker's interference simply because it completely changed my mind. In bein the film maker, he has an unspoken authority. what did he keep vs what ended up on the cutting room floor. it was hard because I felt before he entered the movie, I was staying as objective as possible, but once he entered it, his authority over me and what he said made me wonder: did he see something that I didn't? why would he respond that way. I feel like the film would be less biased if he had not put himself and his thoughts in. I agree with rachel, at times I felt the need to not butt in on the family's privacy, it was tearing the family apart. this made me dislike the film maker even more.