You don’t use a narrator, you don’t appear on camera, you don’t use stats or any graphics, did you make this decision to give a more direct and honest look into your subjects lives and not skew it with a narrative or an agenda?
I think that nowadays people are trained to watch films a certain way and I think they’re trained to watch them in a way that gives them really easy conclusions. It was important to me even before I started making films, back when I was just watching films, that the filmmaker does not underestimate the intelligence of their audience. I want my films to be an experience where you’re kind of grappling with things, you can take it at face value or it’s kind of funny or it’s shocking or whatever but it engages you with other things and makes you grapple with issues. In particular with my latest film Oxyana I don’t think it’s my place as a filmmaker to tell the audience how to feel about these things, I think that’s up to the audience. What I can do as a filmmaker is show the most honest cross-section of what I think is going on and try to tell those stories.
I think that not having my voice in there or not having any particular narrative is really just a way to respect the subject and respect the people who spoke to me and respect the audience and not underestimate their intelligence and to let them draw their own conclusions based on what’s been presented to them. I love when people have varying opinions on my work. I love when two people can watch the same thing and come away from it with completely different opinions. To me that’s what documentary filmmaking is all about. It’s about trying to raise questions as opposed to sum everything up in a nice littler package and answer everyones questions and send them on their way. A really well made documentary is one that raises more questions than it ever dares to answer.