CONCEPT

About a Mountain is loosely based on the book by experimental essayist John D’agata. I became interested in adapting the book, which creatively alters facts, after engaging with fellow documentary filmmakers about the roles we play in conveying reality for screen - or ‘reality fiction’ as coined by Frederick Wiseman. This debate around the commitment or lack of commitment to facts is at the root of my investigation.

We live in a time of political precariousness - fueled in part by our various ideas of “the truth” and the resulting contentious debates that divide us. I often ask: How did we get to this point? I think the answer lies within how beliefs are created - through the construction of compact narrative frameworks. These narratives satisfy both personal and governmental ideals. But they are also limiting and constraining. They may take the form of romantic satisfaction or immortal youth, justice for all, or profitable munitions production. Though not on the same level of scheming, it could be argued that the form and content of documentary film echoes the conveniently linear and finite model which industrial science uses so well as a means toward a (constructed) absolute.

Largely through numerical analysis, scientists believe that Yucca Mountain can safely store the nation's nuclear waste for 1-million years. Equally so, referencing a suicidologists statistical charts, a person who appears happy and sucessful is not likely to fail. But if the guaranteed models of belief developed for ourselves and our society do fail, then our own ideas of truth cease to exist - and so do we.