Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

The following is a speech I gave introducing the category of “Documentary” at LKT’s Halfway There Festival at Towson University:

In 1980, at the premiere of documentarian Errol Morris’s first film Gates of Heaven, director Werner Herzog boiled and ate his shoe in front of a live audience. What would prompt a man to eat his own shoe, you ask? Herzog himself explains the logic behind the decision, “It should be an encouragement to all of you who want to make films and are just too scared to start… and who haven’t got the guts.”

Allow me to take a step back and explain. Herzog had noticed Morris’s incredible ability to find story material and to interpret it. The man was a genius who had yet to realize his full potential. We’re talking about the guy who went on to make The Thin Blue Line and Fog of War. In order to encourage him to get ANY film made, Herzog offered to Morris that if he could ever complete a single film, he would eat his shoes.

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