Just a qick link to this New York Times article on Jonathan Caouette, whose documentary, Tarnation, was a popular success at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. I discussed this film several months ago after it was mentioned in cinema minima, and now that I’m working on my Capturing the Friedmans paper, I’m really intrigued by this concept. Caoette’s self-documentary uses video footage (he recorded over 160 hours) to tell the story of his difficult youth.
Like David Friedman who videotaped his family’s arguments to gain an emotional distance from what was happening, Caouette comments in an interview: “I used the camera as a way to disassociate myself from what I was being subjected to,” adding that “I began turning the camera on my family as a way of dealing with it.” Caoette also notes that he carefully labelled the tapes he made, believing they would be valuable at some point.
I also found Caoette’s discussion of the editing process interesting. In the Times article, he explains that several “subplots” of his life story were removed, including the information that he has a 9-year old son. He also notes his initial discomfort with releasing his film to a wider audience, fearing that he might be exploiting his family’s story.