And here's... yet another movie I got sucked into because we watched some of it in class.
Here's what I like:
Amir Bar-Lev makes a really really honest effort at being objective.
(Although I LOVE documentary, and I love the aspect that in the end it has to be someone's "construction," or "interpretation," I had seemingly "gotten over" the fact that it could never be objective. And this piece taught me that you can make a good honest effort at it, and in some cases, it's incredibly important.)
Amir is not totally convinced that Marla can paint. But he's not about to say she doesn't. He doesn't hint at it, he doesn't intimate at it. He reflects his own doubts (without navel-gazing! Instead, this time, it feels like he's asking the questions the audience is asking) and leaves it at that.
I admire the footage he left in the piece. I admire that he left in the part about "what he could get out of it," and about potentially wanting to be known as a great filmmaker, but ultimately feeling sad for the scandal.
I admire the footage that he left in of the Mom saying "this is documentary gold," or of the News lady that attacked him a little. I admire that.
Because it helps legitimize and objectify the whole thing.
I didn't feel manipulated by this piece. Though I usually tend towards taking things in a good light and taking things at face value more often than most around me, (I grew up with a mother telling me, "Jennie, you'd be every marketers dream!") I didn't feel any of the story was manipulated.
It was fascinating watching the relationships in the story -- and how the key players took everything in stride. Whether it was those pushing the business advantages, those pushing for more shows or more publicity, or a dutiful mother with dutiful mother's instinct trying to protect her baby...
Of course, the story does leave you still question what was reality. This doc is supposed to be a little controversial, and is supposed to get you thinking. And what it made me do was google Marla Olmstead, and go to her website, and her wikipedia and start finding out as much as possible to see if any more light had been shed on the situation in recent years and if we knew if she was a scam or a fraud.
For now, I think I'm sticking with the fact that she painted them all herself.