Story With a Capital S

At the annual seminar for the Danish documentary community at European Film College in Ebeltoft this weekend, there were – as usual – a lot of good films, guests and discussions. The seminar was closed with an “oral essay” by renowned editor Niels Pagh Andersen ("Betrayal" (1994),  "The Act of Killing” (2012) and many, many other great films): “Have We Become Too Good at Telling Stories?” He was addressing the notion that maybe the urge to tell a story is overshadowing other aspects of documentary film making. This "song" was inspired by the seminar and I cannot really explain why I had to do it as lyrics to a song. But maybe it’s a blues…(så passer versefødderne også lidt bedre)... and surely I should have been working instead.


Story With a Capital S

(Semi-fast blues in F minor)

A drama is quite entertaining
Documentaries much lesser so
So we brought on the techniques of Story
But is Story reality’s foe?

We dramatize life in our movies
In movies that once just were docs
But now with the Story prevailing
A Story-less documentary sucks

Aristotle started the whole thing
And Hollywood taught us to love it
A way of telling the audience
That real life: “You can just shove it!”

With emphasis on the narrative
(And I dunno if this is a fact)
But maybe we’ll lose the incentive
For people to get up and act

So next time you hire a film crew

To capture the world in its glory
Pay tribute to poets and painters
And other things other than...Story

But maybe all this is just nonsense
And maybe I'm all but a fool
Keep up the good work you're all doing
I'll just sit in a corner and drool

M. Stolt, 2013

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