What is the purpose of a documentary?
Question: I am doing a project on documentaries and your website has been a lot of help. All I really need to find now is the true purpose of documentaries. Thanks for all the help
Desktop Documentaries: Thanks for your question Jenny. The purpose of documentaries varies from film to film. There are as many answers to your question as there are filmmakers!
Many documentary filmmakers attempt to change or improve society in some way with their documentaries. Their goal is to bring to light a certain cause or injustice with the hope that their film will help galvanize the masses to demand change. An example might be a documentary on a humanitarian crisis in Sudan.
For other documentaries, the goal is simply to entertain or delight the audience in some way. These are called human interest stories. Perhaps there is a unique character in your town you'd like to profile. This documentary might simply be an observational film, not to judge, simply to show and allow the audience to make their own judgement.
Other documentaries may attempt to uncover a hidden truth or mystery.
Or the goal may be to profile someone famous like Abraham Lincoln. So the purpose would be to educate.
Perhaps the filmmaker was fascinated with their family life and wanted to share the quirkiness of their family's story. So the purpose may be to reveal some truth about society through their family's story -- not necessarily to change society, but rather to reveal and enlighten.
These are just a few examples of the purpose of documentaries. As you can see, it is not a simple answer!
Any one else have ideas to contribute toward this question? Please comment below.