The three-day conference “Based on a True Story: The Intersections of Documentary Film and Journalism” kicks off tonight at the University of Missouri School of Journalism with a special screening of The Waiting Room. But the real meat-and-potatoes discussions will take place Thursday by means of four different panels.
LA Weekly film critic Karina Longworth will be among those examining how transparent filmmakers should be about any manipulated aspects of their non-fiction, while LA Times film reviewer Betsy Sharkey will follow later in the afternoon for a discussion entitled “Documentary Entertainment and Its Audience:”
To what extent do new forms of documentary filmmaking overlap with entertainment? Has the recent success and expansion of documentary filmmaking altered audience expectations, and does that success promote or discourage filmmakers from telling the brutal truth? Are audiences expecting slices of life, melodrama, or groundbreaking journalism when they see a non-fiction film, and how have these varied expectations changed the task, the self-representation, and the films of documentary filmmakers?
All good questions. Other journalists participating in the Reynolds Journalism Institute sponsored conference include the A/V Club’s Nathan Rabin and New York Times video reporter Jason Spingarn-Koff.