Like most folks who weren’t raised in cinematically enlightened environments, I discovered Jim McBride’s David Holzman’s Diary while in film school (this was the early 1990s). It really spun me.
McBride’s concept was so smartly executed that even though I knew it was a work of fiction and understood that my teacher’s main purpose in presenting it to us was to spark a discussion about the film’s fiction/nonfiction ethics, I couldn’t get past my visceral reaction of wondering what could possibly make this David Holzman guy think that pointing the camera at himself and filming his own boring life was an even somewhat good idea.
Having just revisited it for the first time since then, 15 or so years later, David Holzman’s Diary has revealed itself to be an even more indelible work.
McBride brilliantly predicts and condemns the video diary industry that exploded with the digital/online revolution and continues to feel like it’s going to crash the entire internet at any given moment.
For me, though, the strangest result is that McBride’s prescient 1967 film continues to inspire new generations of filmmakers to make the very type of film that McBride so sharply decries.
Why won’t everybody realize that David Holzman’s Diary is the first, the last, the only word on this subject?
Michael Tully was born and raised in Maryland and now lives in Brooklyn. His most recent narrative feature, Septien, world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and will premiere July 6 in New York and on IFC Video on Demand. In addition to directing Cocaine Angel (2006) and Silver Jew (2007), he is also a proud alumni of Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film” club (2006). He is editor of the film blog Hammer to Nail.