Digging in the dirt – or reflecting dreams?

Documentary makers often come from journalism: they are socially and politically engaged, and incredibly good at investigation – digging the dirt, winkling out false claims, getting behind spin and unearthing the facts. UK television has built a strong body of work based on this tradition. It fits in with our politics by debate and democratic ideals. It results in guidelines not to show our films to our subjects – that is seen as undermining impartiality.

But for those of us who see documentary as a dialogue with our subjects, as a mirror to reflect their lives or dreams or hopes, impartiality is not the right aim. 

And we don't really want the defensiveness of debate and point-scoring. I need to show my films to the people in them. I am more concerned with making a film where the main participants recognise something about themselves, and are willing to share with an audience. It's less investigative journalism and more like some sort of mirroring.

Tricycle Film Club is run by a Buddhist community based in the U.S. They have chosen THE EDGE OF DREAMING as their February Film, and there is a great discussion going on as they debate the closing thoughts in the film, that maybe the bravest thing is to live as though we will live forever. Buddhist thought is to live, mindfully, remembering death. But maybe living as though we will live forever is also mindful, knowing that there is no 'other place' no 'other chance', that there is this earth, with us on it, now.

One of the things I love about this buddhist debate is how it emphases discourse, argument, intellectual rigour, and yet stays in this frame of a gentler curiosity, where there are no opposing sides pitted against each other, with winning and losing arguments: just a lot of bright people bringing their life experience and their readings and reasoning power to muse over the big questions: do dreams mean anything? What happens when we die? How can we get the most out of every day, every moment? How do we cope when it all goes wrong and we get hit by random unfairness?


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  • commented 2012-03-02 03:19:46 +0000
    Two possibilities….To live life as though you were never going to die…or to live life, ever aware that death could come in the very next moment. Such amazingly different invitations to consider… in the weighty question of how SHALL we go about creating this life we are given. For myself, I feel an amazingly powerful resonance with the first possibility.

    Dying is a but a brief moment in time. But life is the process of actually living each and every moment, within the context of the “me” that exists between birth and death. And in point of fact…in the Dharma…there IS no tomorrow….there is only THIS moment….and then the NEXT moment…and then the NEXT.

    Why then be distracted by the thought that someday…somewhere…sometime… there will be a moment which will be the last? And why try and craft THIS moment as though it was somehow dependent… upon some moment in the future… which will be the last? Why not just craft THIS moment as though it was the most precious thing in all the world…for it is the deepest truth of the Dharma, that THIS moment is the only moment you are given, in which you can have any chance to craft the life that you yearn to live.

    So I say with the deepest passion that I can touch within myself…YES…Yes and Yes…I will dedicate all my energies to living each and every precious moment to it’s fullest…not because I will someday die…but because Life exists solely for the purpose of Living.

    The Universe is nothing more than this elegant process…the process of energy and matter at play in experiencing the infinite possibilities of form and function that are available to them. It’s a dynamic process…and all of my own moments are a mirror of this same process. I can even believe that there really is no finite birth and death for me as well. I too am at play in experiencing the infinite possibilities available to the elemental essence of which I am made…and for this elemental essence…there is no death…no birth…just the infinite play of form and function.

    Play on I say…Play on ! ! !
  • commented 2012-02-22 12:12:54 +0000
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