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When doc subjects attack: A surprise at Errol Morris’ TABLOID

When doc subjects attack: A surprise at Errol Morris' TABLOID

I’ve been busy with an assignment and just now getting to post about DOCNYC. The New York documentary film festival opened with Werner Herzog’s magical Cave of Forgotten Dreams and concluded on Nov. 7 with an afternoon one-on-one conversation with docmaster Errol Morris and then an evening screening of his bizarro new film, Tabloid, about a former beauty pageant queen who finds herself in the tabloids, accused of kidnapping and raping a Mormon, among other escapades. The evening event still stands out in my mind because of a surprise guest. The subject of the doc, Joyce McKinney, appeared in person at the end of the film– practically breaking through the screen– to counter what she viewed as lies in the film.

I might have thought it was a stunt when she seemingly appeared out of nowhere (dressed in hot pink) but I had seen her earlier, in the audience of the one-on-one. I didn’t know who she was then, since I hadn’t seen the film yet, but I noticed a woman sitting in a wheelchair with a black pitbull by her side. She was quiet and nondescript and her wheelchair had signs on it saying something to the effect that Tabloid was based on lies.

I heard that festival brass had spotted her in the wheelchair and invited her to the evening screening, where it didn’t take much coaxing to get her on stage afterwards. First Morris answered a few questions by festival host Thom Powers and then she arrived, ready to launch into a diatribe. Morris pretty much zipped his lip as she went on. It was a fascinating interplay between doc subject and doc maker. Here’s the YouTube.

As I was searching for the video clip just now, I ran across several articles on the film where an anonymous (!) commenter wrote (among many other things) that the aforementioned article was “libelous and defamatory” and threatened to sue if it was not removed.

Tabloid is clearly not finished.

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