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Cinéma du réel catalogue 1980

There are two ways of conceiving cinema of the real. The first is to claim to show reality. The second is to raise the question of reality. Similarly, there were two ways of conceiving cinéma-vérité. The first was to claim to provide the truth. The second was to raise the question of truth. 

Yet we need to be aware that fiction cinema is, in theory, far less illusory and far less deceptive than cinema known as documentary, because the author and the viewer know that it is fiction, that is to say that it carries its truth within its imagination. However, documentary cinema hides its fiction and its imagination behind the image that reflects reality. 

But we need to be more deeply aware of this : social reality hides and stages itself before the gaze of others but especially before the camera. Social reality is expressed through roles. And in politics, imagination is more real than reality. 

This is why the most incredible illusions have been presented, proposed and even imposed to us through cinema of the real ; for in the marvelous lands whose exhilarating images were brought back to us, social reality was staged and obscured by the reigning political system, and transfigured in the hallucinated eyes of the filmmaker. 

In other words, the cinema that raises the gravest and most difficult questions in relation to illusion, unreality and fiction is indeed cinema of the real, whose mission is to confront the most difficult question raised by philosophy for two millennia : that of the nature of reality. 

Edgar Morin 

Cinéma du réel 1980 catalogue