Real life is interesting; this is why people make documentary films.
It is our humanistic impulse to seek for truth. Stories of tragedy and betrayal beseech us. We have a tendency to root for the triumph of the underdog. We seek gratification in others’ tales.
We are entertained by those who unabashedly make fools of themselves and are fascinated by the scrutiny of diversity and the unknown.
Feature films capture this and put it in a frame that is easily understood and perfectly formatted for cause and effect. The story plays as the director directs.
With a documentary, it is different.
The stories are told perfectly imperfect. That is the difference.
People who make excellent documentary films find the stories in real life worth sharing. They may format the telling of events to portray real life on a flat screen, but there is only so much they can do without losing the story or making up another one.
Documentaries are filmed to tell a story from a particular point of view. This does not mean the story becomes fiction.
A feature film may add all the elements it desires to target a specific audience or all audiences. A documentary can only take the story so far before real life takes over.
This is the element that keeps us watching documentaries. A common phrase is, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
We all like to look into other people’s lives.
I think that is why, when a great story comes along, people will put their blood, sweat and tears into making a documentary film. They feel inspired to share what others may find as a gem of reality.
Documentaries can be therapeutic, emotionally releasing, soul stirring, or flat out entertaining because, on some weird realm, we can relate to all human experience.
Enjoy documentaries; take them in and if you don’t see eye to eye with the way the story is told, appreciate the fact someone took the time to tell it.