Crossing the Line

By Hannah Patterson

cathy-come-home-ken-loach.jpgCathy Come Home, 1966

Between Fact and Fiction: A Preview

Many of our most interesting filmmakers have spent recent years exploring the boundaries of fiction and documentary to find the most effective way to tell a story about an event that’s happened in real life – call them docu-dramas, factual dramas, faction films or fictional recreations of actuality. Some, such as Nick Broomfield, have traditionally worked as documentary makers. Others, for instance Stephen Frears, have operated predominantly within the fiction arena and are now dramatising real events for a potentially wider audience. Which makes Dochouse’s forthcoming Crossing the Line: Between Fact and Fiction a particularly timely event. Over the course of three days, directors, writers, editors, producers, commissioners and journalists from the world of television and film will gather to discuss the significance, effect and future of this cross-over.

not-dead-brian-hill.jpgNot Dead, 2007

Ken Loach (whose essential, ground-breaking Cathy Come Home is also screening) provides the keynote address. For people interested in television’s treatment of fact and fiction, Richard Klein (BBC Senior Commissioning Executive for Factual), Angus MacQueen (Channel 4 Head of Documentaries), Hamish Mykura (Channel 4 Head of Specialist Factual) and Ben Stephenson (BBC Head of Drama Commissioning) will discuss the boundaries and parameters of drama documentary. Peter Kosminsky will talk about the way in which he approaches fact as drama, and his account of the events surrounding Dr David Kelly suicide, The Government Inspector, will also screen. Stephen Frears will take part in a panel discussion focused on The Deal and The Queen, and consider where the line is drawn between drama and documentary in the representation of contemporary history. Antonia Bird looks at the issue of directing actors in factual drama.

There’s a masterclass with Nick Broomfield, who’s recently strayed further away from his more well-known, authored documentary style towards fictional recreations of factual occurrences with Ghosts and Battle For Haditha, and he’ll show sequences from both. Pawel Pawlikowski will explore the creative influence that his earlier documentary work has had on his fiction films (The Last Resort, My Summer of Love). Justine Wright, editor of Kevin Macdonald's One Day In September, Touching The Void and The Last King Of Scotland, reveals the craft and techniques involved in editing documentary and drama productions.

war-game-peter-watkins.jpgWar Game, 1965

The programme of complementary screenings is rich and varied. Just a few highlights include F for Fake, Orson Welles’ playful ‘documentary’ about hoaxing, trickery and illusion, which is proof that you should never quite believe what you think you see on the screen, and rarely shows; Roberto Rossellin’s cornerstone of neo-realism Rome, Open City; Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers, which is always worth re-watching on the big screen, and never more so than now; and Isaac Julien’s beautifully rendered, lyrical take on the life of Harlem poet Langston Hughes, Looking for Langston. Peter Watkins’ Oscar-winning docu-drama The War Game, Michael Winterbottom’s The Road to Guantanamo, Antonia Bird’s The Hamburg Cell and Paul Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday are just some of the others that screen alongside a special preview of Brian Hill’s The Not Dead, about the effect of war on men, told through the poetry of Simon Armitage.

Crossing the Line runs between 21-23rd September 2007.