North American premiere coming up at Palm Springs IFF 2013!!!
The writer George Plimpton made his reputation as a professional amateur. He would insinuate himself into various professional organizations, such as the Detroit Lions football team and New York Philharmonic, train with them, and then go into the public arena and do his best to perform on their level. He would struggle mightily with the task, often either failing spectacularly or flailing amusingly. Then, he would go off and write about the experience; finally, he would take to the talk show circuit to promote himself and his daft adventure.
While George was selling himself as a kind of everyman, a stand in for your average Joe, what he was really doing was pulling off an amazing sleight of hand. By getting the public to focus on the folly of his adventure, rather than the creative act of his writing about the adventure, George was making his own professionalism disappear before our eyes. In other words, George the writer was operating at as high a level as any of the professionals about whom he was writing.
And right there’s the trick that all great documentary filmmakers have in common. They find a subject, then devote themselves entirely to it, often for years at a time, at no small sacrifice and measure of personal risk, and if they are good enough and lucky enough, they create works of art that dazzle us and make us forget that they are even there. The camera only points in one direction after all. But let’s take a moment to acknowledge the incredible commitment and exceptional skills of the 42 amazing artists representing this year’s documentary selections in the True Stories section. They are all magicians — George Plimptons, if you will — in their own right.