The documentary film “ One Step Away: a film from life”, updated my knowledge about the “hippies” movement in San Francisco during the 60s; it’s made from such a fresh and realistic viewpoint. It almost seems unbelievable because none of the subjects/characters in the film seems to be aware of the existence of a movie camera. I was especially carried away by two aspects of the film:
First, the camera, or the person who held the camera, entered the scene without previous knowledge about what’s going on in the scene and did not know anyone in the scene very well. This was later confirmed by Ed Pincus, but even without his explanation, I could tell the alienation and the confusion at the beginning, which sort of conflicts with the unawareness of the subjects/characters, since normally it’s almost impossible or a filmmaker to capture personal lives of strangers so naturally. Maybe as Pincus noted, people at that time were not as media-savvy and self-conscious as people nowadays are about appearing on Internet/youtube.
Second, the way the film is edited is also different from common documentaries; it’s not linear and sometimes don’t make complete sense. It reminds me of that, when I shoot home video in my flip camera every now and then, and at the end of the year, I finally plug it into my TV and watch the whole sequence all together. While I do that, I do not necessary care about editing or refining because every shots makes sense when they are viewed together as a whole in the long run. It might cut from a scene of my mom cutting tomatoes in the kitchen to a scene of my brother playing basketball at his high school gym; the cut won’t make any sense at first to some one who doesn’t know my family, but after several scenes, he/she will start to draw conclusions about who the people in the scenes are. Watching Pincus’s film “Diaries”, gives me a similar experience, that instead having every scene contain a dramatic event, it captures the mundane activity of everyday life, with a rhythm that carries on the narrative. What’s different in this film though, from the first film, is that, the main subject, Pincus’s wife, was very self-conscious of her images in front of the camera, and was afraid of her problems exposed.