We live in strange times. This young century has been defined by harrowing disasters both natural and man-made, political tribalism, and existential threats to the future of the planet. What better time for documentary filmmaking?
Everyone’s a documentarian these days, but the best documentary films go beyond simply filming real life and uploading it to the internet. They put real life into context. Sometimes, they reshape it and change our understanding of the world. They teach us about the people that surround us – and the truly successful documentaries make us rethink our ideas of ourselves.
Not only do they reveal our world to us, but they shape how we view it, and the early years of the 21st century have proven that to be more true than ever before. On one hand, digital technology has infinitely expanded our range of vision, and some of the modern era’s most essential docs have been shot on consumer-grade equipment like iPhones and GoPro cameras. On the other hand, these tools haven’t just granted us new ways of seeing, they’ve also galvanized our desire to look, which in turn has stoked an unprecedented degree of interest in the documentary format on the whole.