Les États généraux du film documentaire 2010 Scam Day

Scam Day


These days, a phrase, – a sentence? – is going the rounds of the documentary units in France Televisions: “We have managed to abolish the frontier between documentary and entertainment”.
Curious statement! What does it mean? It demonstrates quite simply the overpowering impact of audience ratings/entertainment on the documentary genre; audience ratings having no frontiers, like the globalised economy, it is invading the territory of documentary. Just as the globalised economy erases borders to invade the territory of the real economy. We can observe the result. Audience ratings produce the same effect, imagining an ideally average televiewer in order to gather the greatest number, whatever the specific interests of any individual among them. Ratings abolishes the particular frontier separating each spectator. In statistics, it is the least common denominator. Whereas in documentary each author defines her or his own territory. In doing so, they choose the public they are addressing. Which does not prevent them reaching for universal meaning which cannot be defined statistically unlike audience ratings. There is truly a frontier between Racine and Corneille, Marivaux and Beaumarchais: it refers to the distinctive style particular to each author even though all four are citizens of the shared territory of theatre. Of course, this quartet desired the widest possible audience, which is legitimate, but not at the cost of giving in to the demagogy of the “average viewer” which levels out any style, any singularity, therefore any frontier.
The Scam offers this year four documentaries with a pronounced style: Ça rime et ça rame comme tartine et boterham by Isabelle Dierckx; Because We Were Born by Jean-Pierre Duret and Andrea Santana; The Hand of God by François Sculier and Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzmán.
Four styles, five authors who also wish to have the widest possible audience but not at the cost of bowing to the demands of audience ratings/entertainment.
And you will see that these four documentaries are fascinating.
Finally the Scam day will close with the projection of Vive le son ! Florilège sonore du film documentaire by François Porcile: a commission by the Scam in partnership with Ina and Sacem, a history of the territory of documentary since the invention of cinema: sixty-seven styles, sixty-seven authors and sixty-seven composers. For it is with the aid of their music that François Porcile composed the score of this long singular history, that of documentary.

Guy Seligmann

P.-S.: The “m” in Scam means “multimedia”: so do not forget the “Radio Night” on the theme The Walls have Ears Thursday August, 26 at 9:00 pm under the star-filled skies of Saint-Laurent-sous-Coiron.

Coordination : Day presented by Guy Seligmann.

Guests : Debates in the presence of the film-makers.

The night will be presented by Guy Seligmann (Scam) and Aline Jelen (Sacem).