In a Year of Political Turmoil and Change, What Do Our Documentaries Say About Us?

In a Year of Political Turmoil and Change, What Do Our Documentaries Say About Us?

On virtually every front, 2017 was a year of change, turmoil, and upheaval. A year comprised of moments that affected our every day lives in ways that societal and political movements haven’t in recent years past. The tension that has defined this year has found itself mirrored in the art that we create, and in more obvious ways in the documentary subjects captured by filmmakers across the globe.

NoFilmSchool’s, Erik Luers has curated a list of the top 10 most politically explosive documentaries of the year. The list is composed of both short and long form pieces and includes links to sites where you can watch or buy the films.

The topics of the films reflect the many issues that are at the forefront of global culture and speak to a larger truth about the genre, in general. Film has the ability to morph into any manner of message. You can be cold and distant, or warm and intimate. You can create a film that is incredibly pointed in its delivery and subject, or you could be broad and focused on information. However, consistently, we see that the films that impact us the most are the ones that deliver you raw, unabashed humanity. That focus on stimulating our empathy for one another.

"The Fight" - Directed by Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw.

However, documentary film hasn’t always been this way. At its birth, the literal practice of “documenting” an event was the centerpiece of the documentary arsenal. The documentary films of the 40s, 50s, and 60s represent that ethic — one that lives on in the incredible nature documentaries produced by Discovery, Nat Geo, and BBC. But these documentary subjects and the ones that find the most critical acclaim in recent years are films that bring you close to subjects in ways that let us sometimes betray (or not) our own preconceptions about “others.” Our appetite for these types of stories has grown as we’re simultaneously shoved farther apart and pulled closer together by social media.

"Whose Streets?" - Directed by Sabaah Folayan.

The documentary subjects on this list represent that growing trend of bringing these hot topic issues into our homes, onto our televisions, computers, and phones. That trend exacerbated by the rising tide of amateur documentarians having access to higher-end HD capture tools.

Getting to the end of the year, you’re going to see plenty of, “Top ___ of 2017” lists. It’s possible that the top documentaries of 2017 will tell us more about ourselves than any other list you’ll read this December.

[via NoFilmSchool]

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5 Comments

Spy Black's picture

Yep, I'mma sit back and wait...

Anonymous's picture

why? why do you guys insist upon shoving political crap in our faces?

Filmmaking, especially, documentary filmmaking, is as much a part of photography as urban exploration. There are also photographers and filmmakers who use their respective media to explore political issues. Finally, life is filled with politics, from big-P issues to small-P issues within industries.

Just because you want to escape addressing politics doesn't mean it won't follow you. If this piece is a problem for you, there are other stories on Fstoppers you can read. And other outlets you can enjoy.

I learned a lot by being quiet in 2017.

Then, of those that I have a very different opinion than, politically or otherwise, in the beginning of the year I realized I wasn’t helping much, so I just stopped debating.

Finally got to a place where I just ask why someone feels the way they do about a position.

If the answer is some ridiculous and childish insult, I’ll just let them know that if they’re ever interested in having someone listen to their reasoning for it, I’ll be glad to.

Then, I do that.

The last part was the toughest of it. More than a few people took me up on it and I had to bite my tongue, but I think it helped me a ton in really understanding what motivates people.

I’ve also learned spite itself motivates a lot of people.

Agreed, but it is important to understand the motivations of others, especially the spiteful.