David Holtzman’s Diary

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This landmark work blending fiction and reality made a deep impression on the 1970s generation of filmmakers. STF is pleased to show this rare big screen appearance, accompanied by a Q&A with the L.M. Kit Carson – aka David Holzman – who went on to have an eclectic career including credits as the screenwriter of Paris, Texas and executive producer of Wes Anderson’s breakthrough Bottle Rocket.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times review, published when the film was shown in 1973:

“Life as a work of art”—at least once a decade that ancient concept seduces some members of yet another generation, and inspires them to hash up their lives in the name of truth or beauty. Jim McBride’s “David Holzman’s Diary,” a totally delightful satire on “the blubber about cinéma vérité,” mocks those ghastly reels from the nineteen-sixties, when various film makers immortalized themselves or their friends by trying and failing to be spontaneous…

Holzman, an earnest young Godard-hound, decides to film his life in order to understand it—and only succeeds in ruining it. As a voyeur, a gentle intruder into other people’s lives, he can’t understand that the filming makes his subjects feel self-conscious, or that “reality” is altered by the presence of his camera and his tape recorder and his lavalier mike, which he calls his “friends.”

“Diary” was made in 1967, and time has served it very well. We get a pungent flash on the past when a radio announces the numbers killed in the Newark riots, or refers to “the new Israel-Egyptian cease-fire,” or quotes the Pentagon on the probable increase of American forces in Vietnam next year. But aside from politics, that period now seems a rather innocent one in retrospect, and the character of David Holzman (admirably played by L. M. Kit Carson) distills the eager naiveté that accompanied the zest for technology, deliberate inarticulation and the mistrust of words, the vibes and the hoaxes and all the lighter put-ons of 1967….

  • Country USA
  • Rating NR
  • Year 1967
  • Running Time 74 minutes
  • Director Jim McBride

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and DoesTheDogDie.com as well as through general internet searches.