Reel Life: Bay Area Documentary Filmmakers

Reel Life Stories: Documentary Film and Video Collections
in the UC Berkeley Library's Media Resources Center

Videos About Documentary
Film Making and Filmmakers

Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment

The cinéma vérité (or direct cinema) movement of the 1950's and 60's was driven by a group of rebel filmmakers tired of stilted documentaries. They wanted to show life as it really is: raw, gritty, dramatic. Rich in excerpts from verite classics with commentary by filmmakers, this is the first film to capture all the excitement of a revolution that changed movie-making forever, with its influences on everything from TV news to music videos to Webcams. 102 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 7004


Direct Cinema

Writer-editor Jack Kroll interviews filmmakers Albert and David Maysles in 1969 about what they called at that time a "new technique of natural movie making, direct cinema." Conversation topics include how the Maysles actually filmed, how they got the subjects to agree to being filmed, and their reaction to being innovators. Program includes excerpts from their feature length film "The Salesman" in which they followed the salesmen around in an early example of "cinema verite." 52 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 5966

Eyes of the World, 1919-1945.

Hollywood's version of the news was sanitized until a program called March of Time, a theater newsreel program, established the standards still used in the industry today. As World War II progressed it provided a forum for competition between numerous news agencies. Includes newsreel footage of World War II and of D-Day, with commentary by war correspondents. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 5943

History Through a Lens, 1894-1919.

Traces the history of the filmed-news industry from the development of the movie camera in 1895 which quickly led to newsreels shown in vaudeville and then in movie theaters twice a week. In reality, much of what was shown was staged by pre-Hollywood film studios. Film shows the competitiveness and tricks used as news reporting got its start and includes rare footage of very early

newreel films. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 5942

I Shall Not Be Removed: The Life of Marlon Riggs.

A film biography of Marlon Riggs, the gifted, gay, black filmmaker who produced documentary films addressing issues of identity among Afro-Americans and gays. Clips from his films show how he evolved a unique experimental documentary style, mixing poetry, criticism, the personal and the political. It also documents his long battle against AIDS until his death in 1994 and includes interviews with family, friends, and co-workers. 58 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 4463

Jean Rouch and His Camera in the Heart of Africa

This program provides an in-depth look at the film work of Jean Rouch and his associates from Niger who participated in production of many of Rouch's Niger-based films. Rouch, Philo Bregstein and Niger cameramen discuss filmmaking and filmmakers who have had historical influence in the field. Segments from several of Rouch's earlier film works are interspersed with the filming in Niger and interviews. 1978. 74 min. Video/C 9202

Ken Burns

Ken Burns has revolutionized the art of making documentaries, bringing American history to life in a very personal way. In this program, he discusses the painstaking research, hands-on techniques and limitless energy that have won him fame. Biographical details such as how he got his start, who influenced him, and where he finds inspiration offer an illuminating glimpse of this remarkable artist. Film clips from his documentaries underscore the power of his methods and the passion of his vision. Originally aired on CBS Eye on People on September 3, 1998. 45 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 7386

Morning with Asch.

Jayasinhji Jhala, professor of Anthropology at Temple University, interviews filmmaker, educator and visual anthropologist, Timothy Asch, in his Los Angeles home. Asch, expresses his views on his life and work and reveals intimate perspectives on confronting his death from cancer. Excerpts from Asch's films representing his groundbreaking fieldwork with the Yanomamo and the indigenous peoples of Indonesia are woven into the dialogue. 1955. 45 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 4812

Rouch in Reverse.

A film by Manthia Diawara. French ethnologist/filmmaker, Jean Rouch discusses his work with Manthia Diawara. Includes a cross-section of Rouch's work with clips from his documentary Les Maitres Fous, his cinema verite classic, Chronique D'ete, and his pioneering masterpiece Moi, Un Noir(Treichville). Throughout the interview Diawara places Rouch's films in the context of the on-going struggle of Africans to construct their own vision of modernity. c1995. 51 min. Media Resources Center call number

Video/C 4484

Rouch's Gang (De bende van Rouch)

Follows the film crew of "Madame l'Eau" and provides a glimpse behind the scenes as director Jean Rouch and his four friends from Niger make their film. This outsider's view of "Madame l'Eau" provides insight into how Rouch approaches his films. In most of his films, Jean Rouch has used his four African friends; Damoure Zika, Lam Ibrahim Dia and Tallou Mouzourane as actors and Moussa Hamidou as sound man. Rouch has been their friend for more than forty years and this complex bond of friendship serves as the theme for this documentary. 1998. 70 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 6566

Stranger with a Camera.

During the 1960s, filmmakers came to Appalachia to document the dire conditions of the region's poorest residents. The use of the striking images of poverty raised questions about whether media-makers with otherwise good intentions exploited and perpetuated long-held stereotypes of Appalachia. In 1967 this tension between media and community led Kentuckian Hobart Ison to kill filmmaker Hugh O'Connor. This film revisits this tragedy to explore the reason for the killing. Producer and director Elizabeth Barret.

2000. 60 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 7192

Taking Pictures.

Australian documentary filmmakers explore the issues and pitfalls of filming across cultural boundaries through interviews and samples of their films of Papua New Guinea including Trobriand Cricket, First Contact, The Shark Callers of Kontu, Joe Leah's Neighbors, Black Harvest, Cannibal tours, and others. It also covers the work of indigenous Papua New Guinea filmmakers and their own experience making sense of film and culture. Featuring: Gary Kildea, Dennis O'Rourke, Chris Owen, Bob Connolly, Robin Anderson, Steve McMillan, Martin Maden, Ian Dunlop, Kuman Kolain. 1996. 56 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C 4933


The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl.

Interviews with Leni Riefenstahl, now in her nineties, flash-backs and modern film sequences tell the story of the most famous woman film director of all time. Known for her films made during the Third Reich, Riefenstahl's story is a controversial one. Best known for her "Triumph of the Will," the film made of the 1934 Nazi Party Congress, it proved to be her undoing. 1993. 181 min. Media Resources Center call number Video/C DVD 176

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Last updated 5/5/03.