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Bob Turnbull
Guest

The first doc I thought of in answer to your question was Errol Morris’ “Thin Blue Line” which directly led to the overturning of one man’s murder conviction. Not world changing, but certainly more than just thought-provoking.

But then you have something like “Triumph Of The Will” which you could definitely cite as having very strong effects upon Germany (and the world). Granted, you could also say that TOTW is less a doc than straight propaganda, but the form can certainly be used quite powerfully.

Recently, I seem to remember that The Cove had a direct impact on the enforcement of the fishing laws in Japan, but I’m not completely certain about that.

As for Novak, I was checking out her mini-biography on IMDB and it mentions how she lost a great deal of her personal mementos in a house fire (including her partially written autobio and a script of Vertigo), so i guess I could see why she might be a bit sensitive – however, her comments are still ridiculous and it’s a shame that she would use the word rape in that context. Totally agree with you Matty.

Oh, it did remind me, though, that she was in one of my favourite small Noirs – the 1954 “Pushover” was only her second film, but it was just an excellent little piece of tension all the way through (Matt P, this was the one I was trying to think of when you asked me for some of my favourite Noirs).

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Harlan County U.S.A.?
Paradise Lost?

Kurt
Guest

You owe me a salty caramel. Or something. 😉

Kurt
Guest

Kim Novak proves that classic noir actresses and George Lucas fanboys do indeed have something in common: A desire to undermine the power of the word “rape.”

Matt Gamble
Guest

White Wilderness. Made by Disney, it’s now rather infamous for being the documentary that proliferated the myth that lemmings commit suicide by diving off cliffs into the ocean. And thus, a world-wide metaphor was born.

Matthew Price
Guest

I’ll concede on the point of “true crime” documentary, where I think a relatively small group of mostly lawyers can in fact change the outcome of something specific. That wasn’t what I was really talking about in the context of the conversation, however. I think The Cove is in fact the high water mark of what I had in mind, pun very much intended, thank you.

Robert Reineke
Guest

Titicut Follies springs to mind as a documentary that created actual change re: the treatment of the insane.

Matthew Price
Guest

@robert Agreement on Titicut – with one quibble. In 1967, with no internet, the biggest population bubble in the history of the world turning 20, and an avalanche of other social changes (civil rights, women’s movement, etc) a LOT of stuff changed the world. Do you truly believe that if Titicut were released today, exactly as is, and that we knew as little about mental illness and psychiatric care as we did then, that it would have anywhere close to the same effect? My point is that to some degree it’s an apathetic world that resists big change and no film is going to be able to shake that off. It’s as much a function of demographics as anything else. That big population bubble? They’re all 65 years old now. They ain’t interested in changing anything. They’re old and scared and into the status quo.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I thought I would pipe in this some comments about the Oscars. I personally love watching the Oscars, if for no other reason than to make predictions and see how many I get right (last year I set a personal record by correctly guessing 18 of the 24 awards).

The films I pick aren’t always films that I personally consider the best (many times, my favourite film of the year isn’t even nominated), however I’ve gotten a good enough idea about how the Academy operates that making predictions is now more a skill than an art.

The only time I truly got angry at a Best Picture win was when Chicago won in 2003. I would have accepted a win by any of the other four nominees, but giving the award to this good, but not great, musical was, in my opinion, nothing but a “safe” cop out in what was then a very tense political situation (the Iraq war had just started).

David Brook
Admin

I’m with you Sean, I watch the Oscars every year for precisely the same reason. I love trying to guess who will get those bald shiny men. Plus it’s all about the sweepstakes!

Yeah, I thought Chicago was decent enough, but it certainly wouldn’t have been my choice by a long shot. The Crash win made me angry too, but lets not open that debate up again 🙂

Robert Reineke
Guest

I think the 24 hour news cycle often preempts the impact that a documentary can make, no argument there. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a perfect storm of subject matter / director skill at some point that if it doesn’t change the world, it at least makes a dent in the conversation. Who knows, something on nursing homes might hit home with the baby boomers.

Heck, what was Orson Welles’ quote about how a movie doesn’t even have to be good to have an impact? V for Vendetta did o.k. as far as box office and critical reception, but people around the world are wearing Guy Fawkes masks and protesting. You never know where a symbol will come from.

As far as the Oscars, I’ve long gotten past the point where I think their meaning as far as long term critical reception or popular acceptance means much. Usually, at least a good film wins the big prize, but at this point the message is usually “good and respectable” rather than classic. That said, awards often say a lot about the voters and, if nothing else, the Oscars are fascinating from a sociological perspective on trying to figure out the taste of Hollywood’s elite. We’ll see what happens when the Baby Boomers start dieing off.

Matthew Price
Guest

As for me, I’m combining your praise of V for Vendetta with your Oscars comment. I NOW HAVE A WORKABLE PLAN TO KILL ALL THE BABY BOOMERS. TEXT ME FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

The 300+ comment Rewatched and Reconsidered post on Crash is actually the genesis of my writing for Row Three. That’s the only good thing I have to say about Crash.

David Brook
Admin

Uh oh, I’ve not opened the floodgates again have I? I presumed the Movie Club episode cleared everything up 🙂

Andrew James
Admin
Matthew Fabb
Guest

I now have plans to see Urbanized with friends thanks to Mamo, as I missed it at TIFF and didn’t realize it was playing at the Lightbox until mentioned.

Definitely “Paradise Lost” is a good example where the documentary changed the outcome of that court case. As I don’t think the “West Memphis 3” would be free right now if that first documentary wasn’t made. Also I don’t think that documentary changed the perspective of any of the lawyers, judges or anyone involved in that case. What the Paradise Lost movies did was change the public’s perception of the case and through public donations and fund raising provide the “West Memphis 3” funding to afford more and better lawyers to keep fighting the case. Also public funding was hugely important in providing funding to do DNA testing to provide evidence that the “West Memphis 3” were not at the crime scene but others were.

Now the interesting thing is one of the directors of Paradise Lost has mentioned that he doesn’t believe that Paradise Lost 1 could be made in this day and age. That their movie was made before all these court tv shows had become popular and those involved had a bit native at the time of the results of such a documentary could have on the case. Now just about any court documentary would be a lot more restricted in access. Also the people involved in any case being documented would likely be a lot more coached by lawyers or even have PR handlers on how to act in front of the cameras resulting in fewer unscripted moments.

Also as Robert Reineke points out, I think the 24 hour news cycle also blunts how much an impact any documentary can make.

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