Should Documentary Films Strive For Social Change?

by Peter D. Marshall

by Sarah Salovaara.


It’s a widely recognized fact that today’s low-budget independent filmmaker can no longer delight in the luxury of simply getting from development through post. She may be the writer-director, but chances are, she also has a hand in the film’s grassroots publicity efforts and even its release. In the case of documentary film, some are tacking ‘public advocate’ onto their ever-expanding CVs.

Aggregate, a Seattle-based policy firm that aims to promote social change, partnered with the True/False Film Festival to survey the 2014 filmmakers on how they saw their films in relation to public policy and advocacy. 56% of participants said they had no plans to conduct outreach despite their film’s potential for change; one filmmaker even bristled at the concept of the survey, writing, “I believe…that a documentary film should be judged first by its artistic achievements.

Please don’t let this survey be a sign that you too are falling into the cul-de-sac thinking that documentary must not only be focused through someone else’s definition of social change but now it must be measurable?!”

Read the rest of this article from Filmmaker Magazine.

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