Documentaries are a film breed within their own category. These intimate films can shed light on the most delicate, harsh or delightful of subjects. Documentaries are true portrayals and often times investigative reports of different issues and subjects. These films have been used to tell the stories of several different kinds and at times, give voice to people or causes that are being overlooked. With documentaries, all of the ‘show business’ of filmmaking is cut out; there are no talent agents contacted, no top modeling agencies used to hire extras, just simple, gritty reporting on a certain subject matter. Throughout recent years there have been several documentaries that have poised themselves to make a mark in social culture. Here are some of recent years’ most influential documentaries.
SuperSize Me: Directed and starring independent film maker Morgan Spurlock, this 2004 documentary film explores the true effect of consuming fast food (McDonalds) three times daily for a 30 day period, and rating the effects on the human body. Spurlock gained almost 25 lbs in the 30 day period and experienced various other health problems. The film also discusses the fast food industry’s overt marketing to young children and adolecents. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and opened the eyes of the public to the increasingly unhealthy effects of fast food on the human body.
Bowling for Columbine: One of the most famous documentaries made by controversial filmmaker Michael Moore, this film was a look into the lives and events surrounding the people involved in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting incident; as well as the rise in gun violence in the United States. Moore interviews several people from the town of Columbine, and attempts to get to the core of why the tragedy occurred. He also takes on some of the public perceptions that surrounded the case by interviewing subjects like Marilyn Manson, whose music and culture was subsequently blamed following the Columbine incident. The film won several awards and was critically acclaimed.
Bully: Directed by Lee Hirsch, this 2011 film was originally called The Bully Project, and is a documentary film that follows the lives of five American students who are bullied by their peers on a daily basis. The idea was created by Hirsch, who was bullied himself as a child, who wanted to give a voice to students who are subject to relentless bullying. The film also takes a close look at the lives of two students who took their own lives after being harrassed. These kids did not take acting classes, and they aren’t fabricating these gut-wrenching stories; this documentary captures their actual struggles. The film was shown at the L.A. Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival, and will be released in theaters for public viewing in March of 2012.