This year’s TIFF doc line-up had an interesting twist, with several big names normally associated with other genres screening non-fiction films. Why have these celebs moved towards docs? Thom Powers, TIFF’s doc programmer, says it’s partially because the immense success of An Inconvenient Truth was a wake-up call ‘that documentaries are really now at the center of the culture.’
Best known as a microphone-toting TV personality, Phil Donahue co-directed Body of War, a doc about a former soldier who was shot in Iraq and is now paralyzed. As Donahue’s directorial debut, it screened as part of TIFF’s Real To Reel program. ‘It’s rather remarkable to see someone like Phil Donahue, who has commanded the airwaves for the last four decades on television and probably would have access to any media he’d want, and yet he chose to invest his time and money into putting his message across through a documentary film,’ says Powers.
This year’s fest also saw an increase in filmmakers better known for their fiction. Take Scott Hicks (who actually made docs before his famous fiction works Shine and No Reservations). ‘Scott says the attraction of working on GLASS: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts was that he had more creative control,’ says Powers. Seems like the same draw for many others working in the genre.