Fiction truer than non

How much fiction is allowed in a documentary? A recent biography of the famed reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski (“Non-fiction” by Artur Domosławski) brings forth the issue with gusto, power and craftsmanship. Being half way through this book I do not understand the controversy it has caused. Supposedly Kapuscinski betrayed the reportage pact with his readers by embellishing reality, fictionalizing events and dramatizing situations.

Back in my Film School days during a seminar with W.J. Has one of the students was feverishly attacking a film scene for being not realistic. Has allowed the exalted student to finish, looked at him for a long time, sighed and quietly asked: “and what is reality?

Indeed. What is reality? How to talk about it? Does a documentarian (using either written words or moving images) need to show events as they are or rather their essence? If we stick with the “as they are” concept, we still need to answer the following: “as they are” to whom? Can representation be devoid of its maker? What is objectivity?

Isn't "objective" just another word for "subtle"? Isn't subjectivity in actually a bow to reality, which in our human perception is always personal?

Perhaps objective does not exist. Perhaps a good documentarian has to be a poet and a storyteller. The differences between (good) subjective reporters and (good) objective ones could only be quantitative.

Some of the poets work so subtly that they are called “realists”, “cinema verite” stylists or “objective reporters”. Kapuscinski at first perceived as the realist, according to the current analysis of his work, was in fact a creator, servicing reality with poetry disguised as reporting - in the name of truth.

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