Documentary and Advocacy Connections in ‘We Rise’

Documentaries can play various roles in advocacy work. In the book We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez cites several examples useful for illustrating the diversity of these roles. A documentary can evoke a wide range of emotions. Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Eleventh Hour chronicles the global… Read More Documentary and Advocacy Connections in ‘We Rise’

10 Other Documentaries about the Vietnam War to Check Out

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War begins this week, though the 18-hour series is far from the first about the subject. Unlike Hollywood’s almost 15-year delay, documentary makers started trying to make sense of the war early on. The Vietnam War has been a cultural touchstone for generations, though it resonates most with… Read More 10 Other Documentaries about the Vietnam War to Check Out

An Ode to the City Symphony (so to Speak)

The most interesting periods of documentary history are the transition periods of adopting and adapting new technologies. The late 1800s saw the Lumiere brothers’ cinematograph capturing and projecting moving images from the backpack-size device. The 1930s saw the experiments with spoken words on the soundtracks. Sometimes they were recorded on location, but more likely they… Read More An Ode to the City Symphony (so to Speak)

11 Sites about Documentary You Should be Reading

The landscape for documentaries and writing about them has changed immensely during the last 20 years. Back then, only occasional news stories or infrequent emerging blogs wrote about them. A respected resource, DocumentaryFilms.net took off when it became a collective blog. The writers behind The Documentary Blog drew a following. Christopher Campbell ran an independent… Read More 11 Sites about Documentary You Should be Reading

‘Hoop Dreams’ News Coverage Suggests a Different Kind of Impact

Popular film titles sometimes work their way into everyday language: Bucket List, Gaslight, Groundhog Day. “Hoop Dreams” is one of those film titles. As part of my background research into Hoop Dreams, I pulled 996 articles mentioning the phrase from all the years available in the Lexis Nexis news database. About half of those stories… Read More ‘Hoop Dreams’ News Coverage Suggests a Different Kind of Impact

Answering the Call from Herman in ‘The Deeper They Bury Me’

Sometimes a story is so tragic that it needs multiple media versions to encompass its depths and traumas more fully. Herman Wallace’s more than 40 years of solitary confinement offers just that kind of story. Solitary confinement isolates a prisoner within a 6-by-9-foot cell for 22-24 hours a day. Prison guards provide the only human… Read More Answering the Call from Herman in ‘The Deeper They Bury Me’

Superglue-ing Dead Flies to Create Reality: Two Wildlife Filmmakers’ Memoirs

Nature documentaries can be amazing: The majestic scenery, the wild bird’s melodic call, the killer snake’s dramatic close-up, the lion’s gruesome assault on the savanna. But these documentaries’ awesome spectacles hide the obstacles that go into capturing them. While human participants generally offer some degree of decorum, animals don’t sign consent agreements or take direction.… Read More Superglue-ing Dead Flies to Create Reality: Two Wildlife Filmmakers’ Memoirs

Book Goes Behind the Scenes of Oscar-Connected Documentary Productions

Documentary production processes differ greatly from the more streamlined (factory?) approaches of mainstream fiction media. Without the written script, paid actors, and deep budgets, documentary makers face many variables that might advance, pause, or change a film’s progress. Some of those variables might even halt the film’s production altogether. Learning about what happens on other… Read More Book Goes Behind the Scenes of Oscar-Connected Documentary Productions

Navigating Violence and Alma’s Story in an Interactive Documemtary

In order to make interactive documentary reviews more focused and systematic, I will use the following outline: platform(s) used, story and structure, user role, navigation directions, navigation execution, and overall comments. Released first in 2011, Alma: A Tale of Violence represents my first application of this approach. Alma: A Tale of Violence is an interactive… Read More Navigating Violence and Alma’s Story in an Interactive Documemtary

Merchandise Extends the ‘Hoop Dreams’ Experience

With every new blockbuster arrives a bevy of branded media, merchandise, and cross-promotions. Soundtracks, television specials, DVDs, and novelizations expand your media collections. Elsa dolls, Batman key chains, and Shrek Twinkies extend your movie experience while they shrink your wallet. Sometimes, you have to wonder if Hollywood will ever let it go. Documentaries for the… Read More Merchandise Extends the ‘Hoop Dreams’ Experience