cinéma vérité

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cinéma vérité,

a style of filmmaking that attempts to convey candid realism. Often employing lightweight, hand-held cameras and sound equipment, it shows people in everyday situations and uses authentic dialogue, naturalness of action, and a minimum of rearrangement for the camera. The style was pioneered in the late 1950s and early 60s by such French documentary filmmakers as Jean Rouch and Chris Marker and has been influential in the work of a number of directors, most notably Jean-Luc GodardGodard, Jean-Luc
, 1930–, French film director and scriptwriter, b. Paris. He wrote criticism for a number of Parisian cinema journals in the early 1950s before embarking on his filmmaking career. Godard is probably the most influential of the French New Wave directors.
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. American filmmakers, who sometimes called the style "direct cinema," were quick to adopt and refine the technique. Included among them are Robert DrewDrew, Robert Lincoln,
1924–2014, American documentary filmmaker, b. Toledo, Ohio. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, he worked for Life as a writer and editor.
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, Richard LeacockLeacock, Richard,
1921–2011, Anglo-American filmmaker, b. London. A key figure in the development of cinéma vérité, he also helped create the camera and sound equipment that made the style possible.
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, D. A. Pennebaker, Albert and David Maysles (all of whom also helped to develop portable cameras and synchronous sound equipment), and Frederick WisemanWiseman, Frederick,
1930–, American documentary filmmaker, b. Boston, grad. Williams College (B.A., 1951), Yale Law School (LL.B., 1954). Wiseman practiced and taught law for about a decade, but his real interests lay elsewhere.
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. More recently, such documentary makers as Ken (and Ric) BurnsBurns, Ken
(Kenneth Lauren Burns), 1953–, American documentary filmmaker, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., grad. Hampshire College (1975). Acting as producer, director, and cinematographer, Burns typically explores themes from American history, blending period photographs, artworks,
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 and Barbara Kopple have made cinéma vérité techniques central to their films.


See studies by M. A. Issari (1971 and 1979) and S. Mamber (1974); Cinéma Vérité: Defining the Moment (film, 1999).

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