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In this filmmakers video learn about the importance of Ron Mann in the film industry.
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Film History Biography of Ron Mann I saw my first Ron Mann documentary on TV when I was twelve years old. And I think it’s safe to say that it was the first documentary that I ever saw, that I actually liked. Okay so it was about comic books that I loved; but still it wasn’t just stupid narration and boring interviews and hinterland who’s who. It had verb and it had style and it had life. And it was a lot like the things it was about. It had cool music, animation and sound effects; all to capture the fun spirit and maxi the subject, while simultaneously tricking the end and learning something interesting. It was great. Of course I’m talking about Comic Book Confidential which is still my favourite film by Canadian Master Documentarian, Ron Mann; who’s making totally engaged in incredibly interesting, completely fun, accessible and articulate documentary films for over 25 years; all with an incredible sense of humour and a distinct personality and style which is only seemed totally natural and honest. Tell me about his film scene forest or phoney or concocted or manipulative. You never feel pushed or pulled, just entertained by a story teller, whose metier is non-fiction. He sits you down to tell you everything he knows about whatever subject, in the most entertaining and unforgettable way he can. Kind of like a smart, funny uncle. I’ve been really fortunate to watch a bunch of Ron Mann films that I have never seen before. Thanks to this year’s Hotdogs Festival which is on Toronto now. During the retrospective of his work and they’ve selected a great cross-section of film, including the more obscure Flak and the fantastic Dream Tower, and they’ve also got some more well-known stuff too, like Twist, and Grass, which enjoying a bit of a renaissance; thanks to the recent debates legalizing marijuana. This collection is great because it lets us examine the evolution of an artist. But what’s been most surprising about all these films is just how consistent man has been throughout a career. It seems like he’s always known what kind of movies he’s wanted to make and how he’s wanted to make them. Whether it’s a film about a printing house or a piece of forgotten throne history, Ron Mann showed an early interest in shining his light on some more obscure and sometimes abstract subjects; making them more accessible. That he’s done this without pondering or dumb things down is a testament to his skill as a film maker. His 1982 film, Poultry in Motion, is essentially a collection of readings by twenty-four well-known poets. An idea that then or now would to put it mildly, be a bit of a hard stuff. What’s appealing about the film is that it never comes across as exclusive or specialized, like a poet fan’s only experience. I mean I don’t know anything about poetry, but thanks to Mann’s talent for broadening the appeal of subject and for breaking down the culture for walls that separate the intimidating world of poetry from a guy like me, Captain Ignoramus. I found the film to be enthralling. And I bet that the hardcore poetry fan would watch that film and think, yes finally someone made a film for me. But that’s the genius of Ron Mann. He speaks plainly and directly to his audience. Using music and jokes were appropriate to draw them in, no matter how much prior knowledge of the subject they have. Newbies don’t feel intimidated by some know-it-all approach and well versed experts come out of the experience satisfied that someone has done they favourite topic justice. It’s definitely a fine line to watch, especially when, as with most of Ron Mann films, the subject is less about specific incidence or experiences; but rather a broader examination of some unexamined aspect of pop culture. He’s like Ken Burns in that way, more often than that choosing to collide an exhaustive, definitive look at some lesser known subjects, bringing their historical significance to the surface; except he does it in ninety minutes as opposed to fifteen to twenty hours. So that, he makes documentary films that are accessible, fun and totally engaging. Check our Ron Mann’s films lying out with hotdogs and trumps or look for them on DVD. You owe it to yourself.