Jennifer Baichwal’s film is one of the best documentaries on documentary that I have ever seen. Its subject is the photographs of Shelby Lee Adams, a photographer I admire a great deal. It played on Trio twice tonight, but now I’m certain that I need the DVD.

Using the opinions of people like Wendy Ewald, A.D. Coleman, and Mary Ellen Mark the film presents both sides of the problem of documentary. For every speaker who celebrates Adam’s work as remarkable and honest, there is another that brands him as exploitive and skewed.

I would give it an unconditional recommendation. If you care about things such as subject/object distinctions, you really should seek it out. I feel pretty certain that I’ll use it to teach from sometime.

1 thought on “Documentary”

  1. I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Shelby Lee Adams until I saw “The True Meaning of Pictures” on TV late last year. I agree with your unconditional recommendation — his photographs and the documentary are extraordinary.
    Thanks for letting us know that the DVD is available.

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