Andrew Jarecki

A conversation with Capturing the Friedmans director.

Visiting Seattle for SIFF, Capturing the Friedmans director Andrew Jarecki reflected on his subjects' obsessive love for, well, movies. "The home-movie footage is, in some ways, what makes us understand the family best. That combination of the happy family movies and the sad, very compelling family movies, I think, has a particular impact in the film. And we're hearing all this stuff in translation, through everybody who has their own perspective and their own shifting memories. What's unique about the intimacy of those home movies is that . . . you have your own material to judge from." We get to scrutinize their self-documented behavior firsthand, both before and during the storm. But does the Friedmans' happily performing for the camera indicate a kind of denial or deception? Yes and no, says Jarecki: "[Elaine] was the only one in the family who didn't like to perform. She would argue that that's why she was the only person who maintained objectivitywhich is true." Otherwise, he continues, the Friedmans' love of performing is authentic, although they're not exactly a showbiz family. "The family doesn't like to be described that way, because that was used against them. The police would have you believe that the Friedmans are so untethered from morality that they're just singing and dancing on the courthouse steps." (The sons actually do an old Monty Python routine while waiting outside for the verdict.) Even when their trials were under way, Jarecki notes, the Friedmans continued their near-compulsive filmingdisplacing real-life anxiety into their own controlled, edited version of reality. "It's also because they are artists in a way, and because they have an artistic sensibility, that [eldest son] David felt he had to give me those home movies. He didn't need to. But I think he concluded that he owed it to the quality of the film to include [them]." Thus, the Friedmans almost become Jarecki's co-directors, a movie-centric clan that gains a kind of final validation through his movie. "The family is entertaining," he laughs, acknowledging that it's fun to be with them bickering and kvetching in their kitchen. "They certainly kept me guessing and interested the entire time. There's always something new. Even now." B.R.M

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow