University of Leicester ‘Documentary’ Presentation
By John Coster
Monday 23rd & Tuesday 24th February 2015
Q. What is a documentary?
A. Shorts, features….even CCTV!
The definition I use…real people, real places, real events
A documentary in any format – film, photography, audio or new media – can be powerful, effective and raise awareness of an issue.
However documentary films have really grown in importance over the last decade especially with the development of the internet and rise of social media.
Flickr, You Tube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Audioboom, Pinterest, Flipboard ….. all have played their part in communities around the world feeling able to share their stories and begin to finally own their narrative.
There has always been an array of dominant themes in the documentary film genre:
- Environment / Climate change – An Inconvenient Truth
- Wildlife – Blackfish / The Cove / Vanishing of the Bees
- Economy – The Shock Doctine / Enron: TSGITR
- Humanity – Into The Abyss (death row) / Restrepo
- Gun Control – Bowling for Columbine
- Nuclear Disarmament – Countdown to Zero
But it’s the shared struggle of the globes citizens to find ‘freedom’ from oppression that has truely found its ‘voice’ via the documentary film format.
Between 2007-2014 Citizens Eye , the community media orgnisation started 20 issue based, volunteer led news agencies.
They ranged from young people (The 2) to older people (Senior Eye), homelessness (Down Not Out) to mental health (How Are You Today?), the criminal justice system (Inside n Out) to refugees & asylum (HAT News), disability (Dzine) to the environment (Eco Eye).
It captured 15,000 images, recorded 295 podcast interviews, generated 26,000 tweets and recorded 1,250 films. All of these are currently being archived in the Museum of Community Media.
However, the most important decision I made in this period was to start a documentary film festival. These big issues we were reporting on needed to be seen on a big screen. Also they needed to be played in different locations that were accessible to a new audience and most importantly they had to be free!
The Leicester Docfilm Festival was born.
The festival is coordinated through the Docfilm Network that provides support through talks and networking events, screenings, funding and equipment to local filmmakers.
Case Study – English Defence League Protest
Further viewing recommendations:
Vimeo – Socially Minded Documentaries
“a channel for filmmakers to put their finished documentaries, trailers, and teasers so that more people can see them and learn about the people and issues we try to advocate for.
Unfinished works and critiques are also welcome.”
Flipboard – click the image below – ‘Documentary Media’ magazine
Documentary Media Month (1st-30th November) presents events, activities and workshops covering 4 areas:
- new media
The 2015 theme is Global Citizens and will be dedicated to showcasing people, places and events around the world.
The programme includes the 6th Leicester Docfilm Festival.
Follow the build up on twitter @docmediacentre
Facebook – Documentary Media Centre