Power to the People – Risk-Taking With TV Documentaries

by Peter D. Marshall

by Joyce Wang.

With documentary filmmaking increasingly becoming the new investigative journalism, producers around the world are taking big risks to get the heart of the story. “Every documentary is a risk and every docu-filmmaker is a risk taker,” said Sara Bernstein, vp of HBO Documentary Films at the Real Screen Summit Tuesday.

The risks include creative ones, which demand tackling under-covered stories, as well as navigating distribution challenges for docu-films within a multiplatform world. And another risk is immediate: it means making the difficult decision on whether to send producers to war zones to cover stories.

“No risk, no great films” seems to be the mantra for Simon Kilmurry, executive director and producer for PBS’s “POV,” which features independent non-fiction films. An example is the “The Act of Killing,” directed by Josh Oppenheimer, which documents the mass killings in Indonesia and will air on POV this summer. “These kind of stories haven’t been covered very well over the years, and once they do, they drive a lot of conversations and interest,” he said.

Read the rest of this article from Cablefax.

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