True Stories

A Festival of New Documentaries Presents a "Reality" Where More Is at Stake Than Who Gets Voted Off the Island

The interactions (captured on digital video) show Americans at their most generous. The majority seem won over by the guileless questions, like Ronnie's "What does it make you feel like to ride a motorcycle? Does it make you feel like the Fonz?" And some are shocked by the rare respect they are being shown, as when Susan interviews a homeless veteran, asking him what local sites he would recommend they check out. As the swimsuited cast hurtles into the Pacific surf, Bradford has certainly achieved a sense of triumph: The trip seems a smashing success, full of song and laughter and insights.

Inside edition: Developmentally disabled adults (with filmmaker Arthur Bradford, second from right), make a video travelogue in 'How's Your News?'
Inside edition: Developmentally disabled adults (with filmmaker Arthur Bradford, second from right), make a video travelogue in 'How's Your News?'

The nagging question is whether this assortment of Americans would have been as receptive to these people if they had not been on camera. Some surely would: When Robert gets a hotel room, the clerk on hidden camera is sweet as can be. But the fact remains that, just as in Kiarostami's film, the camera changes things. And in this case, you get the sneaking feeling that, to paraphrase Flannery O'Connor, we'd all be good people if there were somebody there to shoot us every day of our lives.

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