This week, a pretty interesting documentary series called Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman is hitting your local DVD store — or your Netflix queue (November 11, to be exact). It’s appropriately titled, because it really is a 21st century Fear of Flying. The subject is the filmmaker Jennifer Fox, a 40-something woman who provides an intimate, compelling and lively portrait of her own life, as well as those of her friends, mostly “taking stock of their men situation.”
Fox has a married lover; she has him hold the camera, but doesn’t allow us to see him. Using pretty simple and quirky camera techniques like that, and passing a camera to friends when they have a conversation, energizes the filmmaking. Fox is good at storytelling and she’s pretty enjoyable to watch, but I imagine men and women will experience this series very differently. It’s shot very much from a woman’s perspective (for shame!), and it made me think about how there are no high-profile female doc filmmakers who get in front of the camera. Not Barbara Kopple or Rory Kennedy/Liz Garbus or anyone, right? Judith Helfand (Blue Vinyl) is not exactly a household name. Meanwhile, guys such as Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, Nick Broomfield, and Ross McElwee have successfully put their mugs on screen. (Actually, I take that back — you can catch Koppel in one of the most exciting doc moments of all time when she gets involved in a fracas with the sheriff in her amazing Harlan County U.S.A. But I guess that doesn’t really count.)
Shot over five years, Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman is a six-hour series that follows Fox as she navigates her lovers, her desire for freedom and a pregnancy while using the camera and her friends as a sounding board. Check it out!