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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

“I Work For Documentary”: Sean Farnel Leaves Hot Docs After 6 Years

Sean Farnel, John Grierson

Since its inception, Hot Docs has become the second largest documentary festival in the world, after IDFA in Amsterdam. (I consider it a privilege I’ve attended the past four instalments.) While now-former programming director Sean Farnel doesn’t offer a roadmap to what comes next, his blog entry about leaving Hot Docs offers much about what’s come before: “I’ve watched over 4000 documentaries over the past twelve years. I still have notes on most of them. That’s a lot of reality. Another reality is that there comes a time to change course.” I like what Cameron Bailey tweeted tonight: “Sean Farnel worked 6 years at TIFF, 6 years at Hot Docs. One of the best in the business: taste, grit & humility. A Canadian.” [More at the link.]

[Photo: Sheffield Doc/Fest, November 2008; cradling Margaret Brown’s Youth Jury Grierson award for The Order Of Myths. © Ray Pride]

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“One of my favorite things in watching any performance on film is when there isn’t a lot of cutting going on and when you get a chance to become really absorbed in the artist in hand. The same way we do, hopefully, at a concert, when we get a chance to really trip in to something that’s happening on stage. Whether the singer’s singing, or one of the other musicians is playing, we sort of stay there instead of cutting round with our eyes a lot.”
~ Jonathan Demme

“We’ve talked about this before in the past, my obsession with the Shakespearean histories having the ideal combination of the sweet and the sour. In ‘Henry IV, Part II’ which we’ve discussed before, in the end of that story it’s very complex and haunting because Prince Hal becomes Henry the King, and he has transcended his hoodlum days and at the ceremony is Falstaff, his good friend with whom he has really fucked around and been a loser with, and Falstaff comes up to him and says, ‘Now that you’re king we can really party,’ and the king famously says, ‘I know thee not, old man.’ It becomes Henry IV’s anointment and Falstaff’s catastrophe. That’s life. I have experienced very little unfettered triumph. There are moments, such as when my children are born, but even that comes with new fears and anxieties. In a sense the better you can communicate that life is both at once, the more powerful over time something becomes. One strives for something where the threads are there because it lasts in way that is very palpable. The idea of a tragedy is powerful in literature and theater, but in cinema it doesn’t work, certainly not commercially, and less so critically. Why is that? I think it has to do with how movies are so close to us.”
~ James Gray