Introduce social doc’sA specific ideological understanding and declaration ofsolidarity with the goal of radical social-political transformation. “Werealized that the important thing was not the film itself but that which thefilm provoked” – Fernado Solanas (1969).1Documentaries represent as well as record.Social documentaries excel at telling complex societal problemsand deep human stories. Openly addressing societal problems, with the goal ofmaking audiences aware and motivated for social justice, equality anddemocracy. Helping to engage members of the public as citizens rather thanmerely media consumers.
They have gained in popularity and number in the lastdecade.Despite the critical success of many high-profiledocumentaries such as Supersize Me or Inconvenient Truth, in general theirsocial impacts have been hit or miss. Todays documentaries practices developfrom social trends and technological advancements.The civil rights movements, starting with the battle forcivil rights for African-Americans and growing with feminist, ethnic rights andgender rights movements, spurred many people to express their views, to createnew institutions, and to seek out support for expanded notions of citizenshipand rights. The expansion of non-profit organizations, including those thatrepresent rights movements, created institutional vehicles to channel thatenergy. Public and foundation investment in culture and in mass media creatednew resources for aspiring makers and institutions that supported them.
As such social documentaries have become a powerful tool in combatingsocietal problems.Their influence/impact Target audienceThe Act of KillingThe act of killing investigates the individuals who participatedin the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-1966. Just like Peter Lennon’s Rocky,Road to Dublin, the Act of Killing was also attempted to be covered up by the government,but their efforts were futile in an age where the distribution of media is so prominent.The killer’s re-enactment the murders by juxtaposing killingand cruelty with dancing and bright colours. It often appears surreal at timesbut always keeps this disturbing tone. To be put bluntly the documentary isabout people celebrating the killing of others.
What is most impressive is the influence and impact it left.Joshua Oppenheimer was clever to get his film out there:· Private invitation only screenings across thecountry – Autumn 2012· International Human Rights Day – 50 screeningsin 30 cities held by leaders of Indonesia’s civil society – December 2012· Released in conjunction with the National HumanRights Commission Indonesia’s report on the atrocities.· Indonesia’s Independence Day – 45 Screeningsannounced publicly for the first time.· Available for free download across Indonesia onSeptember 30th anniversary of start 1965-1966 genocide.The film was made with clear goals in mind:· To catalyse a fundamental change in how the1965-1966 genocide is understood in Indonesia.· To generate a nationwide critical discussionabout how the past lives on in the present.
· To demand an official apology, a truth commission,a reconciliation process, and an end to impunity, corruption and the use ofgangsters in business and politics.The act of killing went on to receive both recognition andpraise. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2014.
Other milestones include:· 600 news articles published in Indonesia· 100 Festivals in 57 countries· 1000 Community Screenings in 118 cities· 21 countries have released the film for cinema· 29 awards and prizes2 Seeing Anwar’s humanity gave most ofthe audience at the screening hope. The film showed them that Anwar acted onimpulses that “made sense” to him in his everyday life. They startedto understand the man behind the killer. But they also argued that forgivenesshad to come hand in hand with reconciliation.
Gangster capitalism, corruptionand censorship still plague Indonesia’s social landscape. It is not in theinterests of the upper rungs of Indonesian society to analyse the atrocities orseek justice for the victims. There is still a sense that the averageIndonesian has no rational alternative to the status quo. A vote for apolitical candidate puts bread on your table. Bribery and racketeering providewhat one Indonesian woman described as “a heaven in this hell”.Through a network of undergrounddistributors and social media, The Act of Killing has now been viewed bymillions of Indonesians. It’s a film that is impossible to ignore. Even people at thescreening who didn’t appreciate the “film within the film” structureand criticised its theatricality, thought The Act of Killing would beground-breaking in helping Indonesia break its silence about its history.
Internationalattention will surely help the country come to terms with its past, as onewoman said: “I hope that Joshua goes all the way with this film and thatthe film creates international attention. Then the government of Indonesia maybe forced to deal with human rights in this country.”3PointsA multitude of issues have arisen and been documented.The African Americans: Many Rivers to CrossWritten and presented by Harvard University scholar HenryLouis Gates, Jr. This Emmy award winning documentary spanning 6 series, delvesinto not only black history but what it means to be an African American in theUSA today.
Starting from African slave trades and concluding in present dayAmerica. Dr. Gates challenges many contradictions made throughout black historyand debates many of Americas top historians.The CoveThe Cove is a 2009 documentaryfilm directed by Louie Psihoyos which analyses and questions dolphin huntingpractices in Japan.
It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary Featurein 2010. The film is a call to action to halt mass dolphin kills, changeJapanese fishing practices, and to inform and educate the public about therisks, and increasing hazard, of mercury poisoning from dolphin meat. The filmis told from an ocean conservationist’s point of view. The film highlights thefact that the number of dolphins killed in the Taiji dolphin drive hunting isseveral times greater than the number of whales killed in the Antarctic, andasserts that 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan every year bythe country’s whaling industry. The migrating dolphins are herded into a covewhere they are netted and killed by means of spears and knives over the side ofsmall fishing boats. The film argues that dolphin hunting as practiced in Japanis unnecessary and cruel.Japan’s country-wide dolphin catch is now down to less than6,000 animals from 23,000 when the film was released, said The Cove’s director,Louie Psihoyos, in part because of the gruesome images of dying dolphins andblood-red water that splashed across film screens in the US and elsewhere.”I wish I could say that you make a movie, and theworld changes the next day.
But it takes a while for culture to catch up,”Psihoyos told Motherboard.He and the Oceanic Preservation Society just recently boughtthe rights to release The Cove for the first time in Japan, where many citizensare unaware about the hunts in Taiji.”Hopefully, they are just as horrified as westernaudiences have been,” he said.
“Most people there don’t believe it.They just can’t believe the horror that goes on inside their own borders.”Rocky, road to DublinPeter Lennon’s Rocky, Road to Dublin is a prime example of adocumentary challenging not only social norms but the far greater task ofbringing Irelands cultural isolationism, Gaelic and clerical traditionalismPeter Lennon grew up in the 30’s in the aftermath of the independenceof Ireland.
People were told they were the sons and daughters of heroes andtheir new role was that of gratitude.4It was seen as treason to question the society that the old guerrilla heroeshad fought to create, and it was this lack of questioning that led Ireland downa dark path. Peter Lennon would later travel to France in his adult years andgrew to love the French new wave of cinema and it inspired him throughout the makingof his documentary.
After living in Paris for decades working as a journalist critiquingfilms, Lennon decided to revisit his home country in 1967 to create a filmlooking at the state of Ireland. He captured Ireland on the cusp of enormoussocial changes but still mired in a regressive, semi-theocratic mentality thatwould later erupt in repeated church scandals.5It examined the contemporary state of the Republic of Ireland,posing the question “What you do with your revolution once you’ve got it?”.Blends interviews with writers Sean O’Faolain and ConorCruise O’Brien, a spokesman for the Gaelic Athletic Association, theatreproducer Jim Fitzgerald, a member of the censorship board, an editor of TheIrish Times, film director John Huston, and a young Catholic priest, FatherMichael Cleary. Brainwashed school kids admit casually that because of Adam’ssin their ‘intellect was darkened, their will weakened, and their passionsinclined them to evil”. A patrioticsportsman confirms that any member of their organisation, the Gaelic AthleticAssociation (GAA), who played a ‘foreign’ game such as cricket, rugby or soccerwould be banned for six months. University students tell how they were notallowed to discuss politics on campus.
The number of banned writers in Irelandincluded Capote, Hemingway, Orwell, Salinger and Wells, as well as the IrishSamuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey and even George Bernard Shaw. Although he had seen the Guardian pieces, the Archbishopagreed to my request to follow a priest for two days, obviously believing thatthe singing and dancing 60s swinging priest he produced would win over theprodigal son.6Released in the late 60’s, this documentary shatteredIrelands complacent view of itself as a liberated country.The Irish establishment was frosty towards the film. Irishcinemas wouldn’t screen it, RTE didn’t broadcast it, and it didn’t get a fullrelease until 2006. Even so in later years Peter Lennon’s documentary wouldbecome a grim reminder of Ireland trading the oppression of the British, forthat of the church. Selected by the Cannes Festival to represent Ireland in1968 and immediately shown across Europe and North America.
When the Cannesfestival collapsed, the student uprising under siege by the riot police adoptedRocky Road and distributed it around the Sorbonne faculties. Peter Lennonhimself had this to say: “The French saw it as a film, the Irish as aninsult.” In later years Peter Lennon’s documentary would become agrim reminder of Ireland trading the oppression of the British, for that of thechurch.The unfortunate truth was that it was swept under rug but today,in the west, with have greater free rein to express ourselves and through theguise of the internet it is made far easy to have these documentaries……An Inconvenient TruthAn Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 American documentary filmdirected by Davis Guggenheim about former United States Vice President AlGore’s campaign to educate citizens about global warming via a comprehensiveslide show that, by his own estimate made in the film, he has given more than athousand times. The idea to document his efforts came from producer LaurieDavid, who saw his presentation at a town-hall meeting on global warming, whichcoincided with the opening of The Day After Tomorrow.
Laurie David was soinspired by Gore’s slide show that she, with producer Lawrence Bender, met withGuggenheim to adapt the presentation into a film.Premiering at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opening inNew York City and Los Angeles on May 24, 2006, the documentary was a criticaland box office success, winning two Academy Awards for Best Documentary Featureand Best Original Song.4 The film grossed $24 million in the U.S. and $26million at the international box office, becoming the tenth highest grossingdocumentary film to date in the United States.5 Since the film’s release, AnInconvenient Truth has been credited for raising international public awarenessof global warming and reenergizing the environmental movement. The documentaryhas also been included in science curricula in schools around the world, whichhas spurred some controversy.
A sequel to the film, titled An InconvenientSequel: Truth to Power, was released on July 28, 2017.OutroNo matter the subject matter or style, be it personal,political, comical, revolutionary. Social documentary films increase ourawareness of ourselves and the world we inhabit. They are a window into who weare.
As such, they have a unique ability to engage, illuminate and inspire.7Social documentaries such as the ones discussed above, tellus that they have become a tried and tested medium, to allow directors to bringsocial issues and the abuse of civil rights known to the public.???1 2 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375605/awards3 https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/mar/05/act-of-killing-screening-in-indonesia4Roacky rd qoute5 http://icarusfilms.com/if-dub6 7 http://www.sva.edu/graduate/mfa-social-documentary-film