Why Documentaries Are A Powerful Resource

The documentary genre is not the same category it used to be years ago. Nowadays whether you are watching Lady Gaga’s Five Foot Two or Fire at Sea, documentaries reveal moving stories that might have appeared distant. Watching the lives of the people shown in these non-fiction flicks can be transformative and can bring the world together. If you don’t believe me, here are three reasons why documentaries are important.

Flint Town
The docuseries, Flint Town gives viewers into the look of the forgotten city of Flint (Image via The Detroit News).

Introduction to New Knowledge

Watching a documentary is a fun way to gain insight into the issues happening not just in the United States but around the world. The movies capture real-world experiences and shed light on people, lifestyles, and situations you never knew existed. The film releases you from the little bubble you live in and expands your perspective. After the media stopped covering the water problem in Flint, Michigan, people slowly began to forget the issues crippling the town. Netflix’s 8 part docuseries, Flint Town, showcases the struggle for clean water citizens of Flint still face as well as the growing unemployment rate and the pressures endured by police officers.  This series shows that just because the attention went away, doesn’t mean the problems did as well.

13th
Documentaries pave the way for unexpected powerful conversations. (Image via YouTube).

Generating Important Discussions

Last semester during my Gender and Social Change class, the professor played the powerful film 13th, which examines the link between racial inequality, justice, and mass incarceration. After finishing the movie, the class had an interesting discussion about the United States’ prison system. A hand full of the people in the room never heard of 13th, and even more students didn’t know how twisted the prison system can really be. The documentary and the conversation launched because of it really helped individuals understand a previously unknown issue. Similarly, if you watch a documentary that moves you, share it with your friends and family members because you never know what life-changing exchange might come out of it.

The Invisible War
Don’t underestimate the change a film can bring into your life. (Image via IMDb).

Inspiring Change

By introducing different cultures, perspectives or issues people may have never heard of, documentaries can bring change into your life. The change can be something personal such as destroying any stereotypes you may have previously believed or teach you to be more open to new experiences, or the shift can also be as public as starting a new charity organization. Whichever way it influences you watching a documentary can bring positivity to you and the people around you.

The Invisible War, directed by Kirby Dick, investigates the epidemic of rape within the United States military. The movie tells the heartbreaking stories of the rape victims and the attempts to cover up the crimes. Because of the film, Congress passed 35 legislative reforms including laws to prevent felons with previous assault history from enlisting and a protection act for whistleblowers. The filmmakers also started a recovery program funded by executive producer and CEO of the Artemis Rising Foundation, Regina Scully. The two-week haven is free for all survivors and provides them with non-pharmaceutically-based treatments to relieve the PTSD symptoms victim suffer from.

Many people view movies as one of the most powerful art forms, and as Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the International Documentary Associations, writes documentaries are the beating heart of cinema. These films reflect the changing civilization and are important tools in showcasing global issues. By showcasing essential stories, documentaries place people in someone else’s shoes and creates a more empathic world.

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