Reporting Real Life, Telling True Stories
The rise of documentary film as a social and box office force continues unabated, even as traditional journalism struggles to find its financial footing in an era of new, and often free, sources of information. Sicko (2007), Michael Moore’s exploration of the American healthcare system, grossed $25 million – enough to pay a year’s salary (and health insurance) for a couple hundred investigative reporters at the newspapers that can no longer afford them. Oscar-winning films like Inside Job (2010) and The Cove (2009) are simultaneously entertaining audiences and investigating serious issues like the financial collapse and dolphin hunting – issues that in the past might have been covered exclusively by investigative journalists.
That a mainstream journalism outlet like CNN has just created a documentary film unit harkens back to an era when documentary was mainstream, the province of television networks intent on fulfilling public service requirements and bolstering their images. What explains the public’s fascination with documentary? How is documentary film reacting to recent transformations in the media landscape? Is it filling a critical need that journalism is no longer willing or able to meet?
For all their historical and institutional differences, documentary film and journalism intersect in their commitment to depicting real life. Join us in Columbia, Missouri, February 27–28 as a dynamic group of scholars, filmmakers and film critics engage in a series of thoughtful and energetic discussions about these intersections of documentary film and journalism and the implications for America’s media of the future. The second year of Based on a True Story: The Intersection of Documentary Film and Journalism will analyze further the intersection of nonfiction storytelling forms, advocacy in that storytelling, and the cultural and ethical implications of the convergence between journalism and documentary film.
An interdisciplinary group of scholars at the University of Missouri — sponsored by the Mizzou Advantage Program — has partnered again with the True/False Film Festival to continue a tradition of light-hearted yet serious-minded discussions about documentary film. Conference attendees will spend time engaging with some of the top thinkers, purveyors, and practitioners of documentary film. (The perfect warm-up to the tenth annual True/False Film Festival, February 28 – March 3, 2013!)
The conference begins on Wednesday evening, February 27, with a screening and Q&A with Academy Award nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick. On Thursday, the discussion continues with four panels scheduled throughout the day, along with refreshment and lunch breaks to provide ample opportunity for interaction with the conference participants and attendees.
We hope you’ll join us for the conference and choose to stay on in Columbia for the True/False Film Festival, considered by many industry insiders as the best national documentary film festival.