At the Little Rock Film Festival it has been our mission from the beginning to promote inspired documentary filmmaking. We have sought out non-fiction work with strong, emotional narratives, over outright political, issue oriented films. We believe that a documentary film should succeed or fail on the same merit as a scripted fiction film, and have tended to favor documentaries in the cinema verite tradition of greats like the Maysles Brothers and Frederick Wiseman. In these films a hot button issue is not always front and center, and the sit-down interview does not necessarily drive the narrative. Directors often embed themselves into the story for months or even years at a time, and utilize small handheld recording equipment and natural lighting, in order to achieve a greater intimacy with the subjects. The goal is to reveal larger truths thru character, rather than proselytizing.
Over the last few years we have seen increasingly adventurous filmmakers taking cues from great movies of the past to create uninhibited work that is redefining nonfiction cinema. Some of the new films are reminiscent of the fly on the wall movies of the verite greats, but many of the films are bringing new aesthetics to the documentary, as with last year’s groundbreaking Leviathan, or the 2013 LRFF Grand Prize winner, Dirty Wars. Still other films are blurring the lines between fact and fiction all together, scripting lines for documentary stars, or even creating elaborate choreographed sequences reminiscent of a Hollywood movie set, as seen in this year’s extraordinary Oscar nominated film The Act of Killing. The old dogmas of documentary film are being gleefully disregarded.
Filmmaker and Writer, Robert Greene, who has been instrumental in drawing attention to these challenging new works, and defining them as a movement will head up programming the new “Cinematic Nonfiction” sidebar at the 2014 Little Rock Film Festival. Greene will also oversee the first annual Award for “Extraordinary Achievement in Cinematic Non-Fiction.” Robert has a national reputation as one of the most interesting and provocative new voices in film criticism. But he is also an accomplished filmmaker, which is important in our mission to be recognized as one of the country’s most obsessed filmmaker friendly festivals.