Activist Documentaries Analysis

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In recent years, media growth has exploded in ways unforseen a generation ago. Since media continues to grow and reach every aspect of an individual’s life, be it through the news they receive or social media they follow, media’s influence on our society is largely present and seen everywhere. Additionally, the widening expanse of media options has made documentary film an emerging influencer that is attracting attention from individuals of all generations. The newly popular genre’s ability to combine appealing narratives, striking visuals, and crucial facts has already left its mark on the way we think about controversial topics and critical issues. Activist documentaries - or documentaries aimed at addressing controversial issues or relevant …show more content…

While some documentaries do leave a lasting impact on its audience, it is impossible to generalize that outcome for every activist documentary. Frequently, some documentaries fail to engage its audience enough to enact lasting changes. Ellen Jones, a film writer for the Guardian, explains that “for every agenda-changing film of the kind the award recognises, there are a hundred smaller documentaries on equally worthy issues that barely register with audiences – let alone leave a lasting impression on society.” Since the goal of activist documentaries is to raise awareness, it is severely more difficult to successfully accomplish such a task. While other films’ goal is to be entertaining and engaging, activist documentaries face a difficult challenge of bringing attention to an important issue while still being entertaining. Activist documentaries may fail to captivate its audience or accurately depict a serious subject. Then again, sometimes they fail to do both. Aspiring activist documentary The Cove attempted to address widespread dolphin killings in the fishing village of Taiji, but was instead met with outrage. The documentary’s one sidedness failed to accurately portray the issue, and its audience was infuriated due to the film’s lack of care for the town’s fishing culture and history (Abele). Many …show more content…

Although activist documentaries may now have more popularity than they ever had before, their strategy to reach large audiences started long before its new found spotlight was created. Robert Greenwald, a master in activist documentary film, has specialized in the creation of controversial documentaries and distribution for nearly two decades. Throughout his time as a filmmaker, he has greatly reshaped the way politically relevant documentaries are created and viewed. In an interview on his distinguished distribution strategies, Greenwald explains how the immediacy of a political documentary requires quick distribution in order to stay relevant. To accomplish such a task, Greenwald started implementing grassroots screenings and house viewing parties (Haynes et al. 3). His marketing strategy had serious traction on his documentaries’ audience

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