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How Do Documentaries Produce ‘Truth Effects’?

1917 words - 8 pages

How Do Documentaries Produce ‘Truth Effects’?
The role of media has often been a subject of much debate, particularly in terms of its role in portraying and conveying truth to the target audience. Some argue upon its utility as a means to disseminate information and to rectify perceptions and facts in the minds of the viewers; while others squabble on the amount of misrepresentation which is often adopted by media as a means to project baseless arguments which lead to severe impact on the minds, especially those who are unlearned and uneducated. In today’s burgeoning era, the role of media still remains a largely disputed topic but fragmentation of media has become a broadly accepted and also, widely noticed phenomenon. Not only have new media vehicles emerged but also newer forms of media are often depicted in order to creatively convey ideas and thoughts or to depict reality. One of these media forms is the Documentaries. Although, documentaries are not new as they have been around since the era of 80’s; their commercial appeal has gained momentum lately. Initially, only a particular clique used to be interested in such art forms, but due to growing sense of awareness among the masses many documentaries have been widely acclaimed and watched across the globe. Due to this very popularity, makers of such documentaries are now laden with the increased responsibility to adopt various means for displaying truth and also to avoid such techniques which might either confuse the viewers or might signal or project an opposing idea that is in contradiction to actual facts.
A documentary is known to be more heterogeneous than a fictional movie. Currently, documentaries have taken so many forms that defining it has become problematic (Murray et al, 2009). A documentary film can be defined as, “Non fictional, slice-of-life factual works of art and sometime known as Cinema Verite” ( The website further explains that gradually as films became more “narrative-based”, documentaries opted for many forms and branched out to various varieties, some of which have been dully categorized as ‘non-objective’ and ‘propagandistic’. The documentary films encompass a wide category of diverse film under its umbrella. Some of the examples of documentary films are listed below;
• Biographical films about an individual. He can be living or dead. For example Madonna, Mohammad Ali and John Lennon in When We Were Kings (1996)
• Movie about a well-known event, for example the Holocaust or the Shackelton expedition to the Antarctic
• Movie regarding a festival or a concert, for example Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) or Stop Making Sense (1984)
• Movie on a live performance, for example the stage show Cirque de Soleil – Journey of a Man (2000)
• An ethnographic or sociological examination of individuals or a society living over a period of time or on a particular region, for example Steve James’ Hoop Dreams (1994)
• A movie detailing a comedy show, for example Eddie...

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