Ken Jacobs b. 1933
Perfect Film
Duration: 21'45" (16 mm)

The fortuitous find and instant conception of Perfect Film (1986), a found footage film of eyewitness accounts of the assassination of Malcolm X, is a perfect allegory for Jacobs' notion of "the movies that make up our minds, are our minds in large part". The footage was being sold for the reel on which it was spooled. Jacobs found it, and didn't touch it at all. The drama of shock reveals itself, first in the animated account of a journalist who happened to be in the auditorium, then in the grave and weary non-answers the police chief gives reporters. The story changes, the number of shots fired rises, and the lone newsman in the auditorium refines his story, growing with its power. There is a crowd around him, half of them listening intently, the other half trained on the camera. One man is smiling like an idiot. The film is historically potent, to be sure, but Jacobs perhaps recognised it for its darker suggestions, that in the instant of shock we forget and succumb to the storyteller. - Genevieve Yue (Senses of Cinema, 2004)

Jacobs writes: I wish more stuff was available in its raw state, as primary source material for anyone to consider, and to leave for others in just that way, the evidence uncontaminated by compulsive proprietary misapplied artistry, "editing", the purposeful "pointing things out" that cuts a road straight and narrow through the cine-jungle; we barrel through thinking we're going somewhere and miss it all. Better to just be pointed to the territory, to put in time exploring, roughing it, on our own. For the straight scoop we need the whole scoop, or no less than the clues entire and without rearrangement. O, for a Museum of Found Footage, or cable channel, library, a shit-museum of telling discards accessible to all talented viewers/auditors. A wilderness haven salvaged from Entertainment.