Just saw China Heavyweight this evening and heartily recommend it. Editing, pacing, photography, music, easily rank a 7 or 8/10.
However I feel conflicted as several of the scenes seemed obviously, (or perhaps not so obviously) staged and scripted and not part of my definition of 'documentary'
It's as though the filmmaker were trying to make a narrative film, but in the guise of a documentary with non-actors.
In the same vein is another Chinese 'pseudo-documentary', 24-City, where the filmmaker made what seemed to be a 'pure' documentary, but used real actors.
Is it a conceit for me to think that the role of a documentary filmmaker should always be to try and portray 'truth' whenever possible? Or perhaps, acknowledge that portraying 'truth' is an impossible goal. Instead better to pursue what Werner Herzog calls a 'poetic, ecstatic truth..(which) is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization'?
Interesting interview with the filmmaker himself