Documentary film is a genre which straddles fact and fiction, education and entertainment, aesthetics and documentation. Today, many documentary filmmakers try to persuade us to change our opinions and attitudes, or even inspire us to act.
Such purposive documentaries have found new audiences in the cinema and on film festival circuits lately. Some well-known examples are Michael Moore’s films about US politics, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth about global warming and the Francis brothers’ Black Gold on Fair Trade.
Documentaries have tackled everything from economics to politics, history, nature and celebrity culture, but how effective are documentaries as tools for social campaigning or ‘awareness raising’? Is there a tension between truth-telling and campaigning? Should those making political films take into consideration the influence they may have on the social reality they depict and what, if any, is the documentary filmmaker’s responsibility to his audiences?
joint managing director, New Bera Media; journalist and documentary filmmaker; director and producer, Mine Your Own Business
chairman, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA)
chief executive, Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation; co-founder, Shooting People
education developer, British Film Institute; producer and co-director, Ngobile: The Race
freelance journalist; producer and reporter for Sweden's public service radio
|Nathalie Rothschild freelance journalist; producer and reporter for Sweden's public service radio|
|Helen Birtwistle history and politics teacher, South London school|
|Dr Wendy Earle impact development officer, Birkbeck, University of London; convenor, Academy of Ideas Arts and Society Forum|
|recommended by spiked|