by Reed Johnson.
An unusual number of this year’s Oscar contenders for best picture are based on true events: “The Social Network,” “The Fighter,” “The King’s Speech” and “127 Hours.” At least one other nominee, “Winter’s Bone,” although fictional, conveys such a wealth of sociological detail about its rural Missouri setting that it could be used to flesh out a PBS “Frontline” segment on, say, crystal meth’s ravages or squirrel-skinning.
But there’s a parallel trend in documentary filmmaking. With new camera and editing technology allowing documentarians to construct ever-more complex, nonlinear narratives — and filmmakers increasingly employing reenactments, animated sequences, finely drawn characters, humorous or ironic voice-overs and unreliable narrators to get at what they see as “truth” — some documentaries are playing more and more like fictional films.
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