Documentary films are the rock and roll of our times. Why are they made? Who are in the tribe of documentary film-makers? Do their films really change the world?
Eighteen years ago, Nick Fraser created BBC Storyville, producing films that won Oscars, BAFTAs, and Peabody Awards. He found film-makers from all across the world covering important subjects in documentaries. In Say What Happened he describes the frenzied, intense world of documentary film-making, tracing its history back to the early pioneers, such as Dziga Vertov and his ground-breaking Man with a Movie Camera. The book deals with the British documentary tradition founded by John Grierson, and discusses the work of American masters such as the Maysles brothers, Frederick Wiseman and D.A. Pennebaker, as well as Europeans such as Marcel Ophuls, Claude Lanzmann, Chris Marker, and Werner Herzog. He interviews acclaimed documentary film-makers and discusses the work of Ken Burns, Errol Morris, and Joshua Oppenheimer, among others across the globe, as well as listing his top one-hundred documentaries, and where readers can watch them.
In a world beset with 'fake news', he argues documentaries are better at getting at the verities about life and death and that the new journalism will come from films made using new technology.