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Working at Facets the past few years has helped me see something specific about [William] Friedkin’s documentary style that I had not noticed previously. The film’s down-and-dirty style derives from a short-lived Chicago-based documentary movement from the 1960s—now long gone and unchronicled in most documentary history books. A version of cinema verite, the visual style of this loose-knit movement included the use of hand-held camera, long takes, and direct sound, just like their well-known verite counterparts from New York—Richard Leacock, the Maysles, and others who were part of Drew Associates. And, the Chicagoans also took advantage of the new lightweight 16mm cameras and cableless sync-sound recorders. But, there was something more direct, earnest, and even anxious about Chicago’s answer to verite; theirs was a no-nonsense street style fashioned from the use of documentary as social activism.
An absolutely fascinating, must-read post about William Friedkin's early years as a Chicago documentary filmmaker and its influence on his feature films. (h/t S.)