Excruciating but riveting documentary about an American family torn apart by accusations of paedophilia

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Overall rating:

Score 4

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Sins Of The Father

DIRECTED BY Andrew Jarecki

Opens April 9, Cert 15, 107 mins

Are we striding into the golden dawn of documentary film-making? Movie-goers have flocked to see Bowling For Columbine and Spellbound. Charlize Theron’s remarkable portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster finds its documentary echo in Nick Broomfield’s account of the real-life Wuornos’ last days in Aileen: The Life And Death Of A Serial Killer. As veteran documentarist DA Pennebaker told me recently: “Ideas are the most powerful weapons around. The documentary film is a fantastic way to express an idea, because it doesn’t necessarily come from a large corporate entity, it comes from a single person’s view. It can take hold so fast and can’t be controlled the way movies can be controlled, by how much money you spend on advertising and what theatres you put them in.”

Surfing the crest of the docu-wave comes Andrew Jarecki’s Capturing The Friedmans, an astounding glimpse into the black hole where the American Dream used to live. Jarecki, having grown tired of being a dot-com millionaire, thought his first feature film was going to be a documentary about clowns who entertain children at birthday parties. Over a period of months he got to know David Friedman, New York’s most successful exponent of cap-and-bells tomfoolery. As well as finding him to be trembling with pent-up rage behind his professionally hilarious fa