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The Independent Nov 2002 | Jason Guerrasio

"Sitting in the audience listening to him lecture, I thought there should be some kind of record of him, because he's one of the greatest thinkers probably of all time," explains filmmaker Amy Ziering Kofman about why she did a documentary on philosopher Jacques Derrida.

Derrida explores the very private life of the creator of deconstruction, which Kofman defines as, "a way of critical thinking that makes up some kind of sense or meaning." This radical thinker has spent most of his life observing and analyzing western culture, but has rarely allowed himself to become the subject of observation.

A student of Derrida's in the eighties, Kofman was intrigued by his work. After sitting in on a lecture of his ten years ago, she decided he would be the subject of her next project. But Kofman soon discovered why no one has successfully profiled him. Derrida is an elusive character, reluctant to open the door into his life outside of the lecture hall. "That became clear from the start, that he was going to be a reluctant subject, a gracious, but skeptical host to our endeavor. So the whole thing became about 'How do you respect his right and respect what you're trying to accomplish at the same time?" explains Kofman.

Hoping Derrida would let down his guard, codirector Kirby Dick and Kofman spent as much time as they could with their subject. "Whenever we had the opportunity to run long, that's how I got a lot of the off-the-cuff moments," says Kofman.

The film, which follows Derrida from France, (where he lives) to Australia, South Africa, and America, was never intended to unlock the hidden life of the private genius. Instead, Kofman sought to capture a small moment of Derrida's life on film for future thinkers to study upon. "I didn't need the bedroom scenes or the unlimited-Osborne effects," says Kofman.

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