On March 13, 2014, the U.S. Embassy, in collaboration with Kino Xenix, hosted a roundtable with U.S. documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee. McElwee’s films offer a unique approach to documentary film making as they interweave historical and social topics with autobiographical details. Starting from his own personal life, his documentaries explore bigger political, philosophical and social contexts.
McElwee’s films have won numerous awards and have been broadcast widely in the U.S. and around the world. “Sherman’s March” was awarded the Grand Jury prize at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival and in 2000, was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. In 2007, McElwee received the Career Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. McElwee teaches documentary filmmaking at Harvard University.
At the roundtable, McElwee met with Swiss filmmakers, producers, film journalists and film students to talk about his personal approach to documentary film making. The participants discussed how and why McElwee, early in his career, implemented a mix of autobiography, “cinema verite” and social, as well as political commentary in his documentaries. The discussion also focused on how technical advancements, such as digital film recording, have changed documentary film making in recent years.