Documentaries as Gifts for Society

What is the purpose of a documentary film?

Is it, in the literal sense of the word, for documentation? Is it storytelling as an emotional device? Or both? Should we be running around in search of “The Truth”? Perhaps, but surely the more we chase the truth, the more it escapes us, and it is impossible to ever tell the whole story. Should we judge everything as either good or bad? Should we favor one person and denigrate another? Should we be the hammer of justice, and expose wrongdoing? Should we be the standard bearer of the helpless and the weak? Or should we skip the hard stuff and produce cute little stories and fun gossip? For certain, there is no need to be a slave to the fashions of the times, but on the other hand if a film is boring then who is going to watch it? If only it were possible for the filmmaker to be as invisible as the proverbial fly on the wall. But since there is no such thing as absolute objectivity, who is to say the filmmaker can’t pursue self-expression to the limit?

Like all forms of expression, images cannot remain independent of society. This is even more so with documentaries. Documentary is a form of social expression. Documentaries exist to be gifts to society. They are a collection of ideas that people can use to help themselves think about issues, and to help positively evolve both themselves and society — both a gift and a favor. Like an eccentric woodsman planting trees for grandchildren yet to be born, we offer gifts to society, honestly and earnestly. Whether it is a feature film or a short commercial, we call the spirit that pervades it a ‘work of art’, and we call the people who create such things ‘artists’.

What we, as dreamers, want to make are relay batons filled with the passion of ‘gifts to society’. A baton must be passed on to the next runner. That is why we sow the seeds and nurture new ‘artists’ to pass the baton from one person to another, in the belief that the gifts we create have at least some little value to society, and us all.