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In Praise of Documentary Films


By definition, a documentary film is “a theatrically released nonfiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects. It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.”

For many people, documentary films are not on their regular viewing list. With the exception of recent winners “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002, “March of the Penguins” in 2005 and “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006, few individuals could say they watched an Academy Award documentary winner, let alone heard of the majority of the nominees.

Why the praise for documentary films?

Covid-19 changed many things. The past year has been a golden age of documentary films. Blockbuster movies were not released due to the pandemic. Distributors did not release traditional movies to streaming services due to lack of opening week revenue. Many tv shows were on hiatus and even some of the regular sporting events were cancelled. Viewers were watching golf from ten years ago! Additionally, with the nation gripped in both fear of the pandemic and a heart-sickness over the social and political scenes, we needed to put our minds on something else. And, in a time where truth, fact, and news are all suspect to some 50 percent of our citizenry, documentaries are based on FACT and not on FICTION.

Documentary films can take you to another place or time altogether. They can help you understand someone completely different from you in thought, word, and deed. Documentaries can open your mind to a new way of thinking. They can make you laugh, or cry, or want to scream in anger. At their very best, documentaries can inspire you to get off the couch and make a difference in the world. 

Bright Line Publishing brings you reviews of documentary films, so you can choose for yourself which to track down and watch. Follow us on our Facebook page to watch trailers of the films.

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