Can a Narrative Film Be Remade as a Documentary?

In my latest Doc Talk column at, I ask the question, “Can a narrative film be remade as a documentary?” Inspired in part by Hal Ashby’s “The Landlord” and Martin Scorsese’s “Public Speaking,” as well as Scorsese’s confirmed future collaboration with Lars von Trier for a new “The Five Obstructions” project, the post also involves Werner Herzog, “American Teen,” “The Parking Lot Movie,” “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” “The King of Kong” and “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” Also: minor thoughts about new releases “American: The Bill Hicks Story,” “The King Speaks” and “Rejoice and Shout.” Here’s a teasing snippet:

But here is a novel idea that might also work in a reciprocal way: remaking narrative features as documentaries. Actually, I should stress that it should be fiction films, since narrative features can include works based on true stories, which wouldn’t be too unlikely or difficult. For instance, Werner Herzog could have technically made the documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly after making the dramatic version, Rescue Dawn, as opposed to vice versa.

Read the rest at and then share some possible fiction films that could have also worked as a documentary in the comments section.


Poster: “Project Nim”

This is the official one-sheet for James Marsh’s “Project Nim,” but I wish it was only a draft. Roadside Attractions needs to throw these words up on top: “The Best Film of 2011! — Christopher Campbell.” I don’t like to be quoted in ads and posters, but I feel strongly enough about this film that I’d just really like to help it out. And so far it’s still my favorite movie of the year.

The positive blurbs from Karina Longworth, Wesley Morris and Sasha Bronner are okay, I guess.

Let their words guide you into the theater for this incredible documentary if mine can’t.

Watch the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Segment of Ric Burns’ “New York”

Today is the 100th anniversary of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which took the lives of 146 garment workers and led to reform in building safety and working conditions in New York City.

A couple new documentaries have been released this year, one an episode of PBS’ “American Expeience” titled “Triangle Fire,” the other an HBO production titled “Triangle: Remembering The Fire,” which premiered earlier this week (and appears to already be on YouTube).

But I’d like to share the segment on the incident from Ric Burns’ classic miniseries “New York: A Documentary Film.” Re-watching it now is choking me up. David Ogden Stiers should narrate all of history, by the way. Here is part 1 of the segment, followed after the jump by part 2.

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