Q2 2022

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By Betsy A. McLane J ill Godmilow believes that Harun Farocki (1944-2014) was history's greatest documentary filmmaker. If one is familiar with Farocki's work -- he made over 90 films, mostly German lan- guage shorts -- her view is a starting point for interesting debate. However, discuss- ing Farocki is difficult for most people, since his work is not well-known by the public, is hard to access, and when seen can be confusing with its combination of experiment, document, and art. None of his films are commercial in any sense of the word, and some are seen only in museums and art galleries. Godmilow is herself a filmmaker and a writer work- ing apart from commercial interests. She shares with Farocki a deeply political and extremely critical leftist perspective. Her most widely seen film is "Antonia: A Por- trait of a Woman" (1974), directed with singer-songwriter Judy Collins. This tradi- tional portrait biography of Antonia Brico, the first female conductor of major orches- tras in Europe and the US, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Fea- ture. Most of Godmilow's other films are decidedly non-traditional, and were made while she had the professional support of decades as a professor, now emerita, at The University of Notre Dame. A t N o t r e D a m e , G o d m i l o w t a u g h t classes in filmmaking and critical studies, and "Kill the Documentary" reads like a distillation of approaches and theories she developed there. The book's subtitle, "A Let- ter to Filmmakers, Students, and Scholars," is apt, since the writing style is informal, almost to the point of being haphazard. That is okay in a letter, and perhaps in a manifesto, the latter a term that perhaps better describes "Kill the Documentary," as Bill Nichols writes in his introduction. Reading it, one can hear Godmilow's voice in the seminar room or on a student film shoot, filled with the enthusiasm necessary for good teaching. Just the Facts A NEW BOOK TAKES AIM AT THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY FROM A CRITICAL, LEFTIST VIEWPOINT 54 C I N E M O N T A G E B O O K R E V I E W

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