Radio Film School

Truth in Media Pt.2 - Documentaries [SE25]

Dec. 13, 2016

We follow up our conversation about "YouTube Journalism" with a look at the responsibility of the documentary filmmaker to capture and convey truth. From Nanook to Nuptials.

Robert Flaherty's 1922 docu-drama "Nanook of the North" is widely regarded as the first commercially successful feature length documentary. But even as early as then, controversy surrounded the documentary filmmaking art form as it was revealed that many of the scenes from Nanook were staged, and even the main characters name was not his real name.

Do true documentaries have to be strictly photojournalistic style, hands-off productions that just capture moments and interviews? Is it okay for a documentary filmmaker to use creative editing to re-arrange and juxtapose imagery and audio to better fit his or her narrative, even if such juxtaposition implies something that never really happened? Is a wedding film that has posed shots and scripted voice over any less "real" than a straight-forward document of the day? These are the questions we explore in this episode of Radio Film School: Short Ends. 

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