David MacDougall
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An encounter with Robert Gardner
in The art of the observer
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This chapter describes a meeting of filmmaker Robert Gardner with students in a graduate seminar at Harvard University. In a discussion Gardner responded to questions from the students about the making of Forest of Bliss (1985), his film about Hindu rituals of death in Varanasi (formerly Benares), which the students had just seen. He tells how he was inspired by the films of the Italian Neorealist directors, the themes he had in mind in making the film, the convergence in it of poetic elements, and the practical problems he encountered in making it. Other topics covered include overcoming the ethnocentrism of viewers, the role of chance and circumstance in documentary filmmaking, and why he is attracted to making films in other cultures as a way of addressing universal aspects of human experience.

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The art of the observer

A personal view of documentary

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