Every Star Wants a Documentary Now. But Is It Just P.R.?
“The documentary film ‘Sly’ has received criticism for its overly positive portrayal of its star, Sylvester Stallone. Reviewer Charles Bramesco of The Guardian called it a ‘puff piece’ and accused director Derek Zimny of being too deferential to Stallone. The film glosses over Stallone’s cinematic failures, such as ‘Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,’ and fails to provide a balanced perspective from the talking heads interviewed.
Zimny has defended his approach, stating that he was not obligated to defer to Stallone and that the star did not provide notes on the film. He described Stallone as someone who gave him space to make the film better. However, some, like documentary director Pete Nicks, argue that it can be challenging for filmmakers to push past the celebrity veneer and find authenticity in their subjects.
In a similar vein, Nicks faced creative disagreements with Stephen Curry’s production company, Unanimous, while making the documentary ‘Stephen Curry: Underrated.’ The film has been criticized for its overwhelmingly positive portrayal of Curry and its self-mythologizing title.
Despite the criticisms, both ‘Sly’ and ‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ serve as examples of the challenges documentary filmmakers face when dealing with celebrity subjects and the need to present a balanced and authentic portrayal.”
Historically, celebrities and athletes have always been subjects of documentaries, both for their talent and personal stories. The challenge for filmmakers is to navigate the fine line between celebrating their achievements and providing an honest portrayal.