Life in a Day director Kevin Macdonald has made a successful career switching between documentaries and feature films, but it is the former where he has found the most success winning an Oscar for One Day in September.
Macdonald talks to Matt’s Movie Reviews about his favourite documentaries.
I think the single documentary that has influenced me the most and in a way the one that I admire the most is The Thin Blue Line, the Errol Morris film. The miscarriage of justice... technically, stylistically in terms of content, it’s an extraordinary film and hugely influential.
I love the Czech film called Unseen, which is set in a blind school in the Czech Republic where blind kids have started taking photographs. It’s a most fascinating, philosophical, very entertaining documentary that challenges of all your assumptions about what it is to be disabled...what it’s like not to have a sense.
I love the Humphrey James film Listen to Britain, which was about the war in Britain...22 minutes long, no real dialogue, no real story, just the sights and sounds of Britain at war 1942 or 1943, I think it is. All of the sounds of the planes taking off to bomb and planes coming in, of sirens going off, factory workers...it’s one of the influences on Life in a Day, that film was.
I love the Cuban film by Santiago Alvarez called Now, which is a very short 10 minute film with a Lena Horne song over it. Some call it the first pop video...it’s that song set to imagery about racism in America. It’s a propaganda film in some ways, but tremendously powerful. You should look it up on YouTube.
And I love Hope Dreams, which is a film that made me want to make feature documentaries when I saw it.