In the midst of this election, we are feeling a lot. In fact, most of what is being discussed in this election are feelings. Outrage, anger, fear, disgust, apathy and also pride, engagement and energy.
But, elections aren’t just about feelings. In our republic, ideally, voting is about choosing the candidate who best represents you - the candidate who you trust to legislate, implement policy and trade, and communicate with the world in a way that best represents you. In this election, it has become harder and harder to determine who that is and what is real. “Truth” is hard to come by and complicated by our digital world where so much of the information we see is fed to us through algorithms based on our internet searches, our Facebook friends and our shopping habits. It’s easy to feel adrift.
This is why we love documentary films. For ninety minutes we get to dive deep into the most important issues of our time. We meet people from our own communities, or from halfway around the world, and we get to understand their perspectives and why they do what they do.
We just finished working with Audrie & Daisy, which let us into the experience of sexual assault victims and survivors, and how this world of digital communication amplifies their experience. We are excited to start work on The Bad Kids, which teaches us there are, in fact, no bad kids, but rather a social and educational system that fails too many youth in need. In Saving Mes Aynak, we get to peel back layer after layer of perspectives as an Afghan archaeologist races to glean knowledge from an ancient Buddhist city before the Afghani government sells the site to a Chinese copper mining interest, all against the backdrop of an unending war and in the backyard of individuals who call the place home.
On Thursday, we’re leading a webinar with Touching Home in China, hosted by the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia (that you can attend!) about how to bring the issues of international adoption, identity, China’s one-child policy, feminism, and others into classrooms using this rich transmedia tool.These projects and others like them are a balm against the blurry high-speed background of Twitter and cable news. Documentary media slows us down, makes us think, and yes, makes us feel - but in context, with background and reason. We hope our work gives these important works of art long life and a far reach.