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What’s Real?: A Roundup of Documentary-esque Sundance Films

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Tanya De Angelis

The title of a panel from the 1985 U.S. Film Festival is just as relevant when discussing documentary film today. The What’s Real panelists, including renowned filmmakers Rob Epstein, Barbara Kopple, D.A. Pennebaker, and Frederick Wiseman, questioned whether observation altered the event observed and discussed the cinematic representation of reality versus actual circumstances.

Over the last 25 years, there have been many new perspectives that have reshaped our interpretations and expectations of documentary films, filmmakers, and subjects. With the 2010 Festival film Catfish sparking so much dialogue, we thought we’d list a few other Festival documentaries and documentary-esque films that have raised a few eyebrows over the years.

Frat House (1998)
Blair Witch Project (1999)
Tarnation (2004)
My Kid Could Paint That (2007)
No Impact Man (2009)
Paper Heart (2009)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

This in no way is a comprehensive list, so please share your favorites!

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