When is a documentary not, strictly speaking, a documentary? When Sophie Fiennes makes HOOVER STREET REVIVAL.

Words: Miles Fielder

efore she started filming HUUH’I' Street

Revival. a striking portrait of the Pentecostal

connnunity of (ireater Bethany (‘hurch in South (‘entral l.os Angeles. Sophie l-‘iennes (yes. yes. let's get it out of the way: she‘s the sister of Ralph. Joseph and Martha) was talking to a famous documentary filmmaker. The man. who she chooses not to name. said: ‘llaye you got your characters”? Are you going to follow them'."

(‘entral to the film is the charismatic Reyerend Noel Jones. whose sermons have helped the people of this depriyed community turn their lives around. The reyerend also happens to be the brother of diya (irace Jones. 011 learning this. the famous documentary filmmaker said to l-'iennes: ‘You've got to find out what the preacher's trying to achieve and follow him and see if he achieyes it or not.‘ What's this. she thought'.’ It‘s just a formula. It's a formula l‘iennes acknowledges has become dominant in documentary tilmmaking. but one she thinks is ‘kind of dead'.

So. her Hoot'er Street doesn't follow the formula. It‘s not so much the story of a community. but a snapshot of it. There are few face-to-face interyiews and none with the Reyerend Jones. Sister (irace doesn‘t get a mention. The subjects of liiennes‘ film are seen going about their eyeryday liyes: a single father bathing his baby in their run-down hoyel of a home. the aftermath of a street corner shooting. folks gathering at Greater Bethany on a Sunday morning. Then there are the Reyerend‘s sermons. a mix of the psychological and the spiritual that will strike a chord with even the most ardent atheist and which are accompanied by music that would have James Brown gettin' on up. Jtist like those Sunday sermons. Fiennes' film is an experience.

‘There are other schools of documentary. like Russian documentary. that don't follow the journalist format where you're the obseryer. judging what you


28 THE LIST 3—?“ .J..3 201‘;

‘There is this more experiential way of making a documentary, which I’m coming to because I love the experience of

obserye.’ says liiennes. ‘There is this more experiential way of making a documentary. which I'm coming to becatise l loye the experience of cinema.’

Hoot-er Street doesn‘t identify characters and follow their stories in the prescribed tnanner of other documentary films that haye found success in cinema release. But Hoorer Street. which was made on a minuscule budget of 5350.000 and which will open in eight cinemas in London —r astonishing for a doc »- shares the highly cinematic look of films such as ('rum/t. When

We Were Kings. Hoop Dreams. One Day in September

and I)ogton'tt um! Z-Boys.

l'nsurprisingly. liiennes. who graduated from ('helsea School of Art to work with British ayant garde filmmaker. Peter (ireenaway. isn't inspired by documentary films but by fiction cinema. ‘.\ly inspiration comes from what happened in liurope in the ()()s and 70s. the personal kind of cinema that people were making then.‘ she says. ‘Werner ller/og has a quality that I like. as does Michelangelo .-\ntonioni. They haye that sense of location and time and the fight between real time as opposed to the compression that‘s demanded in watching a film. And I like lngmar's Bergman's clarity of intention.

‘()ne of the things i loye about that kind of filmmaking is it‘s the experience of the person watching. not haying to take on someone else's tightly-constructed. plot- driyen narratiye.‘ says liicnnes. ‘lmages that eyerybody takes away and eyeryone perceiyes in a different way. It‘s the difference between telling and showing. I feel these things can liye more.'

Hooyer Street liyes and breathes. Perhaps that’s because the making of it was an organic process. Initially. l‘iennes wanted to document a performance (the (ireater Bethany sermons). much in

the way she‘d documented the dance choreography of

her late friend in .tlt'e/iue/ ('lurk "s Modern .llus'ter/it'eee. She wanted to capture that emotional. ecstatic quality in the church. What her film grew into is a portrait of a community. and more. a dynamic piece of cinema.

‘lt's a weird. yirtual experience when the real becomes cinema.‘ she says. Amen. to that.

Hoover Street Revival is on selected release from Fri 18 Jul. See review next issue.

Rough cuts

Lights. camera. act/on . . .

GLASGOW MEDIA ACCESS Centre is hitting the summer with a number of practical new courses for those wishing to gain skills in the media industry. They are: How to Set up a Creative Business: Saturday 19 July,

Luwie darling

with Lanarkshire-born four- minute wonder music video Impresario Ian Crook. Writing for Television Drama: Saturday 26 July. With hot shot TV writer Adrian Mead. Digital Visions: Tuesday 12 August and Wednesday 13 August. Experimental documentary making with German experimentalist Holgar Mohaupt and Maryhill-born cameraman Jim Rusk. Script Supervising with the glamorous stalwart of Scottish script supervision Janis Watt. For more info contact Alice Stilgoe on 0141 553 2620. GOD HEt P JJS JOE t, SC"..'Y‘{‘:’L"‘;’ Pro/tr; [30001 n; f', we“; a i. g: screw" .":"sl’,f at A."’,}":.'.’ t 0/3 "filer/Loft, in; stag": 't‘ cat for; Permit/tit; of fric- Opera T'vii‘f'. 1'1: {,510‘ "re inc; git/x: "0.2"; :3 t'vg‘. Gerard Baile'. a 3?: rear 2 ’2 "must: act]. "as T'Ir; C’).":Y‘:’J ",Ir: ’J“ '."‘: {1"at‘f’,” 3/3!) (VJ‘J‘IJJ SC" were! .‘xtv, : mic-t: Ba"/;,toszzmge/ (,2: parity Coiw

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