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Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary 

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Too much professional introspection can be a bad thing. Medical students are prone to hypochondria as they learn about new illnesses. Poetry about writing poetry is dreadful. So making a documentary about making documentaries may seem like a suspect endeavor. Pepita Ferrari's Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary will certainly appeal to certain predisposed audiences, particularly film nerds and journalists, but her examination of how to tell both a good story and a true story is a timely and compelling work in an age rampant with suspicion of mass media and spin. She interviews filmmakers who have made amazing documentaries on subjects ranging from the rebels in Chiapas, Mexico, and female circumcision in Kenya to Tupac Shakur's murder and Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute/serial killer portrayed by Charlize Theron in Monster. You won't hear from PBS darling Ken Burns or polemicist Michael Moore. Instead, luminaries include Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) and Werner Herzog (Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Grizzly Man, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans), among more than 30 others. As Morris (pictured) says, "Reality isn't handed to us as a whole." The various directors talk about how they approach foreign cultures and customs, cross social boundaries and relate to suspicious or reluctant subjects. In one revealing clip, a cameraman captures a group of Chiapas rebels riding on horseback from a small village and beginning to cross a stream. As they enter the water, he pans to the other bank where 50 news photographers are also capturing the staged event. The film offers glimpses from many intriguing films, and it would have benefited from more footage and context. But Capturing Reality has its own story to tell about how documentary filmmakers reconcile artistic inspirations and a highly subjective process with objective reporting to create a story with integrity. More clips and interviews are available on the film's Web site: www.nfb.ca/capturing-reality. Tickets $7 general admission, $6 students/seniors, $5 Zeitgeist members. — Will Coviello

Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary

9:15 p.m. Fri.-Thu.; through Sept. 24

Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 827-5858; www.zeitgeistinc.net

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