The Unstoppable Rise Of The Feature Length Documentary

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Act Of Killing: Errol Morris/Werner Herzog Interview

Documentary film as a medium has gone from strength to strength over the last ten years or so. It is very easy in this day and age to make a documentary yourself.  You can use a professional editing suite on your laptop for as little as £100. Not so long ago it could cost £100,000 to get to use a professional editing suite. You can use the camera on your mobile phone if you do not have an actual camera to work with. This means that making a documentary yourself is not as expensive as it used to be.

These are two of the most respected documentaries that have been released in the last 10 years.  They have inspired debate among film fans and have helped to drive political change on certain issues.

Joshua Oppenheimer made The Act of Killing in 2012 – This is based on a true story from the mid-1960’s in Indonesia.  The military, backed by the CIA, paid an army of gangsters to butcher a million people it had labeled as “communists” but who in reality were anyone who might oppose it. Oppenheimer made the documentary, recording witnesses recalling their memories from that day.

Director Alex Gibney. Producer Marc Shmuger  We Steal Secrets: The story Of WilkiLeaks in 2013.  A documentary that details the creation of Julian Assange’s controversial website which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history. Shmuger had a long and illustrious career rising through the ranks of Universal Pictures, and has now branched out to develop his own production company, Global Produce.

Independent small production companies are making their names by producing impactful documentaries such as these.  Michael Moore has become influential on the political landscape with his documentaries. He is a well-known documentary maker who has produced lots of documentary films regarding corrupt politicians and greedy business corporations.  He earned an Oscar for his first big hit with Bowling for Columbine (2002) about the bad points of the right to bear arms in America.  Then in 2004 he made Fahrenheit 9/11 which made fun of President George W. Bush and this was the highest-grossing documentary of all time.

In summary, documentary-makers can be highly influential people. Directing the way people think and impacting on what they get involved in.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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