Sonia Kronlund: "Reality in documentary cinema does not exist, there is only the author's point of view on reality"

On July 18th, Sonia Kronlund, French documentary filmmaker, radio anchor, and a jury member of the European Documentary Contest at the 10th OIFF, delivered the lecture "Truth and lies in documentary film making"

"I will talk to you about lies in documentary films. This topic is of great interest to me, because there are constant discussions around it. I'll show you some pieces and we will try to raise these questions together, although I do not have answers for them".

"Everyone thinks documentary cinema is a reality. Before I started filming, I did not even think that such a question might arise. What distinguishes a documentalist from a journalist? A journalist tells about reality; for a documentary filmmaker, this is not the goal. Reality in documentary cinema does not exist, there is only the author's point of view on reality. You invite the viewer to another world, so a slight manipulation on this path is justified. You have to come to terms with reality".

"I have the main rule that I adhere to. Imagine that I want to make a film about you. I record conversations with you, observe your behavior, you tell me something else, and then you see something completely different on the screen. The main thing is the respect for the characters. Regulate the connections with the truth accordingly. For me, it's important that the character does not complain to me after the movie is released and does not ask me to remove some scenes or words. This is one of the ethical limits: the character has the right to look at his or her story".

"To what extent can you manipulate in a documentary film? In order for the viewer to be captured by the narration, it must beconsistent. I had a situation when we missed a certain piece that would combine two scenes. I could not find anything in my footage. So I added a scene that was shot not for the film - it was just a moment from our conversation with the character. Here is an artificial combination".

"For me, this workhsop is also an opportunity to think about my new film. I'm filming a story about a man who has 5 women in different countries. He lives 5 parallel lives. This is a person, whose life mostly consists of deception. And I thought: can I, for example, hire an actress or a private detective to film an occasional conversation with him? For me, an interesting question is currently emerging: "What is the limit of deception in a documentary about a liar?"

"We live in a very definite world, we are surrounded by rules and regulations. It seems to me that a lie is the answer to the artificially constructed system of society. Lying is an interesting subject for a documentary script. Try to reflect on why society needs a lie?"