According to review aggregation sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, documentaries consistently rank among the best-reviewed movies of the year. According to Metacritic, Jafar Panahi’s filmmaker self-portrait This is Not a Film currently tops 2012, while Rotten Tomatoes ranks The Invisible War and Planet of Snail with perfect 100% ratings, followed closely behind by Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Island President (each with 98%) and The Imposter (97%). But they’re still considered second-class citizens in the marketplace. In my latest Docutopia column at the Sundance Now website, I address this lingering and unfortunate situation.
Here is an excerpt below:
“These days, when “reality” is a common trope across most of our popular media entertainments; when Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and chimpanzees can make tens of millions of dollars at the box office showing off their real-life experiences; when the worst kept secret at the Sundance Film Festival is how documentaries are, by and large, superior to the narratives, isn’t it time to throw out the old-fashioned meme that docs are somehow inferior?
Last weekend’s new releases Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Searching for Sugar Man are the latest testaments to the strength of the form. They are informative and entertaining—as compelling as any narrative indie feature—and should remain in theaters throughout the rest of the summer. (Each earned solid $9,000-plus per-theater averages in their opening weekends). They are the kinds of documentaries that hit the art-house audience’s sweet spot, splitting their screen time between hot-button politics, narrative thrills, and even some humor.”
Check out the rest of the column at the link.