Films byTexts by John Grierson

John Grierson (1898–1972) was a Scottish film director and pioneer of documentary filmmaking. It was Grierson who initially coined the term “documentary” in a review of Robert Flaherty’s Moana (1926). He famously defined documentary filmmaking as the “creative treatment of actuality”. In his essay, First Principles of Documentary (1932), he argued for the potential of  documentary film as a new art form based on its capacity for observing life. Grierson’s view of film was based on a firm belief in its potential as a form of social and political communication and as an art form capable of creating a better understanding of the world. He also directed two features early in his career, Drifters (1929) and Granton Trawler (1934), after which he contributed productionally and artistically to many other films, including Night Mail (Basil Wright & Harry Watt, 1936) and Coal Face (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1935). Many of those collaborations were embedded in the British Documentary Film Movement, which Grierson also founded and briefly formed a part of. In 1939, Grierson was appointed the first commissioner of the National Film Board of Canada. He was honoured with the Golden Thistle Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Art of Cinema at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1968.

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Als ik het probleem van het beeld ter sprake breng, is het vooral om je inzicht te geven in hoe de geest van een filmmaker werkt. Die moet zijn weg aftasten door de verschijning van dingen, moet kiezen, afwijzen en weer kiezen, altijd op zoek naar significantere verschijningsvormen, die als gist zijn voor het deeg, dat de context is. Dit is echter niet moeilijker voor film dan voor poëzie. De camera is instinctmatig, of zelfs door oefening, een zwerver.

Article NL EN

If I raise this matter of images it is rather to give you some idea of how the movie mind works. It has to feel its way through the appearances of things, choosing, discarding and choosing again, seeking always those more significant appearances, which are like yeast to the plain dough of the context. Sometimes they are there for the taking; as often as not you have to make a journey into a far country to find them. That, however, is no more difficult for cinema than for poetry. The camera is by instinct, if not by training, a wanderer.