Fiction or Non-Fiction? The Blurring of Film Genres in 2010
by Tench Phillips
New trends in filmmaking are attempting to create an experience for the viewer that's
realer than real. I'm not talking about 3D technology or iMax projection. This past year
in cinema saw the release of some bigger budget fiction films that were shot on video
in cool, muted colors to create a gritty look that feels more like modern reality than
movies that are made in warm, Technicolor film tones. Films like Cyrus, The Social
Network, Never Let Me Go, Greenberg, Ajami, and Winter's Bone are all a response
to slick Hollywood productions. These films tend to lack traditional movie artifice and
contrivances, and contain longer takes as opposed to the fast and furious cuts first
cultivated in commercial television.
At the same time many non-fiction films like Inside Job and Waiting for Superman are
becoming more theatrical with polished visuals, extensive soundtracks, and special
effects - taking advantage of evolving video technology that allows for more bang for
Although the best docs of the past year told compelling stories that truthfully
communicated the filmmaker's subjective reality, a few were outright hoaxes, some
obviously so. Audiences willingly suspended disbelief to enjoy Catfish, Paranormal
Activity II, I'm Still Here, and Exit Through the Gift Shop.
The number of wide-release Hollywood films made this year has fallen over 30%
from 2007. The main reasons for such belt-tightening are the high costs of marketing
theatrical releases, the contraction of the dvd sales market, and the lack of an
established business model on the web that makes up for the declining revenue for film
In contrast there are thousands of foreign, art, documentary, and independent films
being produced annually around the world. But due to the changing viewer habits
caused by new web technologies, many of these specialized films are not pulling in
large enough audiences and so aren't being released to theaters and therefore go sight
unseen outside of film festivals. The Naro Cinema, a large 1936 single-screen movie
house (we celebrate the building's 75th anniversary in February), inhabits a unique
media position locally. We search out and screen hundreds of films to bring only the
very best of international cinema ? programming that?s akin to a year-round film festival.
Reel I - Hot Docs 2010 (Non-Fiction Films That Opened at the Naro)
Below is a list of the best non-fiction films of the year that opened at the Naro Cinema.
Since mainstream cinemas fail to draw a local audience for documentaries (with the
exception of Jackass 3D), this list includes just about all the docs released locally
to theaters. There were some noteworthy docs that premiered on cable and PBS,
especially John Lennon NYC and The Confessions of the Norfolk Four on Frontline.
Many of these films are now available for rental at Naro Video, or you may have to
seek them out on the web in order to see them. Since many of the important messages
of these films are critical of transnational corporations and American Empire, they
will go unseen on all those hundreds of media channels compromised by corporate
THE ART OF THE STEAL The Barnes Museum art collection valued at 25 billion
dollars has been hijacked and moved by the moneyed interests controlling Philadelphia.
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP Is filmmaker Thierry Guetta the perpetrator of a
fraud or is he the subject of a prank by the anonymous street artist known as Banksy.
BABIES Four cultures, four families, and four babies - what could be more simple or
JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK This revealing film peels away the mask of the
iconic 76-year-old comedian.
BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD New York City's artist celebrity of the eighties
changed the art world and eclipsed even Warhol.
BACH & FRIENDS Who knew that Bach improvised his musical work performing in
coffee houses? His music has influenced the likes of Joshua Bell, Bobby McFerrin, Philip
Glass, and Bela Fleck.
I'M STILL HERE Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix stage a multimedia publicity stunt
that includes this fake documentary.
INSIDE BEETHOVEN This beautiful film records interviews with the world?s top
musicians and composers and includes segments of 55 world class performances.
WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE The complete history of The Doors filmed by ODU grad
CRUDE The plunder of the Ecuadorian Amazon by Chevron/Texaco and the legacy of
pollution left behind that now sickens the native peoples is a decade long legal struggle
MOST DANGEROUS MAN ALIVE: ELLSBERG & THE PENTAGON PAPERS Forty
years after his initial arrest, Ellsberg is now assisting Wikileaks in exposing government
corruption and lies.
CASINO JACK & THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex
Gibney (Enron) exposes a culture of political corruption through the epic story of super-
lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Not to be confused with the new biopic starring Kevin Spacey.
THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Author Naomi Kline gives
an alternative history of American empire and globalization that explodes the myths of
free markets, free trade, and privatization.
RESTREPO A ninety-minute deployment with U.S, soldiers in an Afghanistan valley that
will leave the viewer breathless.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER Since the U.S. corporate press ignores the new politics of
South America, Oliver Stone interviews the elected leaders and reveals democratic
people?s movements that have gained power.
COUNTDOWN TO ZERO The real story behind the Salt Treaty and the need for true
worldwide nuclear disarmament.
THE TILLMAN STORY When the government lies about the death of Pat Tillman and
turns his story into war propaganda, The Tillman family fights back.
INSIDE JOB Wall Street controls Congress and the federal regulating agencies and is
now plundering the middle class not just in this country but throughout the world.
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN This controversial film oversimplifies a complex issue and
vilifies the teachers' union but at least it jump-started a necessary national conversation.
DEFAMATION Is anti-Semitism still alive in the U.S. or is this threat exaggerated by the
ADL and right-wing Zionists in an attempt to silence mounting criticism of Israeli state
policies against Palestine?
WAITING FOR ARMAGEDON An unholy alliance in America exists between Christian
Evangelicals and Jewish Zionists united together for Israel and against the Muslim
Reel II - Cool Pics (Fiction Films That Opened at the Naro)
THE LAST STATION
ME & ORSON WELLES
THE WHITE RIBBON
MILLENIUM TRILOGY - GIRL WITH DRAGON TATTOO
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES
CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION
COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
I AM LOVE
MAO'S LAST DANCER
NEVER LET ME GO
ANTON CHEKHOV'S THE DUEL
THE KING'S SPEECH
VISION: FROM THE LIFE OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN
THE COMPLETE METROPOLIS
THE SECRET OF KELLS
MOTHER AND CHILD