Five essential intimate documentaries you cannot miss

April 21, 2017

A camera and a filmmaker in solitude is the common situation of these five documentaries that GuideDoc has selected for you. Five essential works that reveal the immediate environment of the filmmaker and that investigate identities, passions and uncertainties to the most unimaginable consequences.

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Nobody’s Bussines by Alan Berliner (1996)



Being grumpy enough for a conservative man, Oscar Berliner allows himself to be interviewed for the making of a one-hour documentary dedicated to his life. He is the father of filmmaker Alan Berliner, who has dedicated his entire work to unraveling his own family background. This time it is his father who, in spite of being disappointed by the profession his son has chosen, decides to be part of this biographical documentary that soon draws a genealogical tree in the narrative structure of Nobody’s Bussines. Oscar, who does not hesitate to start arguing for any reason with his son Alan, whom we always hear as a narrator behind the camera, gives an honest testimony which is accompanied by a panorama of old photographs, home movies and other images that alternate between the past and the present in an enlightening and emotive generational dialogue that abounds in humor and drama.


News from Home by Chantal Akerman (1972)



Between 1971 and 1972 a young Chantal Akerman lived in New York in a period that was crucial in her career. There she discovered the city´s underground world of experimental cinema and watched the films of Stan Brakage and Jonas Meckas. It is precisely the marginal aesthetic and narrative of these two filmmakers that Akerman will evoke in the future to make her films, all of which reflect the seemingly invisible tensions between the quotidian environment and its victims, exile and female identity. In the case of News from Home Akerman films in statics and long shots a series of views to the city of New York while she reads the letters her mother sent her from Belgium. While the epistles become more separated in time and less replied by Akerman, this bucolic panorama of the urban environment, whose fullness is shaped by the silence that disguises the sounds of the city, seems to propose a state of mind between detachment and nostalgia.

Le Filmeur by Alain Cavalier (2005)



In the mid-nineties, a sexagenarian Alain Calavier began to keep a filmed diary of his life with a small video camera. In Le Filmeur, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, Cavalier cuts the air of his daily intimacy by filming the most mundane spaces he inhabits, such as the bathroom where he defecates, the room where he sleeps or the corners of his mother´s house. The image of an object like a socket on the wall becomes an essential image to withstand the meditations and thoughts that pass through the mind of a Cavalier who feels old, weakened and longing. The film turns into a collage of the life of a man and in spite of its intense fragmentation, the film makes of chaos an introspective human dissertation about decay.


Katatsumori by Naomi Kawase (1994)



Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase began her career making films about her family´s wounds and joys. Unlike Embracing, her first short film in which she gives image to the absence of a father, in Katatsumori Kawase films the existence of the person she love the most: Uno, her great aunt who served as her adoptive mother since she was little. With her camera always in hand, Kawase pinches strokes of everyday life in the house of her “grandmother” — as she calls Uno — capturing the proud stroll and the tenderness that breaks through the wrinkles of a smile that counts eighty years old. The images of a letter left by her mother before vanishing, the green of the grass, the brightly colored petals of Uno´s garden and Kawase´s fingers entering the frame to touch the face of her “Grandmother” are moments that vibrate on our eyes even years after seeing this beautiful portrait of love.


Extreme Private Eros Love Song by Kazuo Hara (1974)



Kazuo Hara began to film this movie after his beloved ex-girlfriend Miyuki, with whom he had a daughter, moved to another city in Japan. What began as an excuse to keep in touch with the woman he continued to love after their breakup becomes a close-knit accompaniment to Miyuki’s attempts to keep on with her life and find love. At the beginning of Extreme Private Eros Love Song, Hara becomes an intruder of the concubinage between Miyuki and her new girlfriend, which immediately unleashes disagreements and strong quarrels between both. In another moment of strong transpiration of emotions we see Hara crying on camera to calm his jealousy when Miyuki tells him that she got pregnant of an African American marine. The climatic scene of Miyuki’s solitary childbirth is undoubtedly the most striking scene of this extremely crude film, whose aesthetic disparity honors the sincerity and impotence of the souls who star in it.

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