Documentaries and humanitarianism

Andrew Moore

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The thesis explores how documentaries, in this decade, impact their audience. The paper will use one sub question and a critical case study, which the researcher will draw out information from in order to answer the primary research question, which is: Why documentary films are effective mediums that have the potential to create and/or raise awareness? The thesis focuses on how documentary film can be the catalyst for creating and/or raising awareness. The purpose has originated because of a belief that current media does not create the desired communicative effect. With this in hand, it is believed that filmmakers draw upon spectators’ cinematic experiences to increase the spectacle of documentary viewing. This paper will examine this argument and formulate findings and results on the research question The methods used in the paper are firstly survey-based using a convenience sample, a focus group with health professionals after viewing the documentary SiCKO and finally a selection of interviews with documentarians that have generated films that have created and/or raised awareness. A wide selection of literature will be used as a frame of reference. The main findings of this paper are: (1) Documentary film presents the opportunity to provide the audience with an in-depth analytical ‘story’ of a topic. (2) Documentary film can be used a political tool for gaining credibility on a specific topic, cause or issue. (3) If the subject/organisation of the documentary does not act defensively and try to attack a documentary, then the documentary would not achieve the same attention. (4) Michael Moore has successfully helped to raise and create awareness by using entertainment aligned with educative information. (5) SiCKO raised questions of universal healthcare and health insurance failures in the US that were not being addressed domestically and SiCKO also created awareness internationally. These findings have helped to create an academic understanding of the role that the genre of documentary has in regards to awareness creation. The new entertainment focus of the modern documentary genre is providing new depths and abilities that will produce more films that will bridge entertainment and education.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2009
Number of pages95