I could watch Capturing the Friedmans ten more times and still be undecided on the truth. After the film, I watched another 90 minutes of extra interview and discussion footage on the DVD and I only became more conflicted. I even watched Just a Clown, director Andrew Jarecki's short film about Silly Billy aka David Friedman, the embryo of the Friedman saga. The family fascinates me. They are sick, dysfunctional, manipulative, tragic and completely real.
I want to know all the unavailable facts behind Capturing the Friedmans, but that's not possible. Everybody and nobody tell the truth with absolute conviction. How can this be? How can there be so many dissenting versions of reality among police, lawyers, witnesses, and within the Friedmans themselves?
Memory, perspective, and context are key to storytelling. Even the uninterrupted filming of an event is marred by singular perspective. Friedmans is a documentary with a large amount of actual footage, but it's still a story -- a recreated version of the truth. Thousands of judges listen to stories every day in thousands of courtrooms. The truth becomes the story that best appeals to their sense of logic and plausibility. They don't know the truth any more than I do about the Friedmans.
If you rent this film on DVD and enjoy it, take a good look at the second disc of extras, especially Discussion, Just a Clown, and Jesse's part in Family.
Choosing between Fog of War and Capturing the Friedmans for Best Documentary is a much more interesting pick for me than the Best Picture race. I enjoyed both movies as much or more than anything nominated for Best Picture and highly recommend them.