James Toback on Movie Vs. Documentary (2013)

“I think anyone who today still feels that fiction films are competitive in terms of depicting the human condition with documentary – all other things being equal in terms of quality – has his head lodged so firmly up his colon that he should find a crane to remove it. This almost gruesomely embarrassing talk about digging deep into one’s so-called soul to get performances of truth, moments of truth, in fiction films, and brave performances … I always think of coal miners when people talk about brave performances. What bravery does it take? I mean, it’s not happening, it’s not real. And if the goal of documentary moviemaking is to show some form of truth – and if you’re dealing with people, psychological truth, personal truth, emotional truth – it’s something you’re never getting more than a glimpse of in a fiction film. I still like movies, and I want to make some of them, but I think every year it becomes more and more apparent that it’s embarrassing to compare the two. The documentary has advanced so far beyond, and the movies that are of interest are numerically so heavily weighted in the favor of documentary, despite the fact that 99% of the money is spent making fiction films, most of which are not worth watching. We’re in this sluggish environment in which still that’s where all the attention is paid, or most of the attention, most of the emphasis. And there’s this world of fascinating, terrific stuff that’s being made all the time, in the theaters, on the television. I could spend my life just watching one interesting
nonfiction film after another.”