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Fiction Films with Documentary Interviews


Nathaniel
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I've got a challenge for you all.

A colleague of mine is looking for movies or shows that mix traditional storytelling technique with actual interviews in a sort of half-fictional, half-vérité style.

Previous examples include Reds (the "witnesses"), When Harry Met Sally (old couples), Band of Brothers (WWII veterans), and Bernie (mixture of actors and townspeople).

Can anyone add to this list?

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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My Dinner with Andre?

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Possibly Once

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Bernie

Koreeda's After Life used a mix of actors and real interviews.

I assume you don't want mockumentaries, although those could apply.

Ha! Now I'm thinking of the commentaries by the cast in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Thanks for the good suggestions, guys. Keep 'em coming.

I'm looking for titles that explicitly interrupt the main narrative with what appear to be real, unscripted interviews. The verisimilitude should be obvious in context.

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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There is another Woody Allen film that does this. Is it Husbands and Wives? I think so, yes. OR -- maybe that doesn't count because it was raw footage, iirc, and not the finalized version of the doc being made.

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Nathaniel wrote:

: I'm looking for titles that explicitly interrupt the main narrative with what appear to be real, unscripted interviews. The verisimilitude should be obvious in context.

Ah, so it doesn't matter that the "interviews" in When Harry Met Sally... are scripted, then.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Koreeda's After Life used a mix of actors and real interviews.

As far as I understand from the notes in the DVD real interview transcripts were used, but none of the footage is of the interviewees.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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So, to be clear, you're not looking for stuff like the little mock-interview style asides in The Office?

No, sir.

If that were the case, then the films of master parodist Christopher Guest would certainly flood the list.

I'm hoping to ferret out some more serious films that fit this description. In this day and age, pseudorealistic comedies are all too easy.

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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There is another Woody Allen film that does this. Is it Husbands and Wives? I think so, yes. OR -- maybe that doesn't count because it was raw footage, iirc, and not the finalized version of the doc being made.

Maybe you're thinking of Crimes and Misdemeanors? Woody's interviews with his documentary subject Professor Levy?

In that vein, how about the cut away interviews with Dicky Fox in Jerry Maguire?

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

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I think Take the Money and Run had interviews, too, but in that case the interviewees were wearing Grucho Marx glasses to hide their identity. So, not much for verisimilitude, in that case.

Oh! but maybe, Persona, you were thinking of Zelig, which featured interviews with Susan Sontag and Saul Bellow, etc., as "themselves"?

Then again, I think Zelig may have been a flat-out pseudo-documentary, and not a "mix" of traditional storytelling with interviews like Nathaniel was looking for.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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There's Ocean's 12 when Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis play themselves.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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I feel like most of the films being mentioned here aren't at all what Nathaniel is looking for. Please tell your colleague to watch Masculine/Feminine, if possible.

I shared the question on Twitter and someone mentioned Xavier Dolan's Heartbeats, which is a great example. (I like the film a lot, too, and last time I checked it's available on Netflix streaming in the States.)

Caveh Zahedi's I Am a Sex Addict might not classify as a fiction film, strictly speaking, but it includes interviews with real people from his life and home movie footage and fictional reenactments of scenes in which actors play those people.

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Great recs, Darren. Thanks.

I seem to recall that the interviews in Godard's film are woven organically into the narrative. The tonal shifts aren't as jarring as, say, Reds, where the interviewees are lit in chiaroscuro against a black background. I want to credit Beatty for initiating this style, but I wouldn't be surprised if he himself was following a precedent.

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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Up In The Air

Wikipedia: "While shooting the film in St. Louis and Detroit, Reitman placed an ad in the paper asking if people who recently lost their job wanted to be in a documentary about job loss. He specified "documentary" in the ad so actors would not respond to the ad. Reitman was amazed by how many people of different age, race, and gender were willing to speak frankly about what happened and what a cathartic experience it was for these people. They received a startling number of responses, with 100 responses, including 60 people on camera (30 in Detroit and 30 in St. Louis). Twenty-two made it into the film. They interviewed them for about ten minutes on what it is like to lose their job in this kind of economy, and after that they would "fire" them on camera and ask them to either respond the way they did the day they lost their job or, if they preferred, the way they wished they had responded."

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