How the internet is galvanising support for social justice documentaries
Documentaries that have a campaign at their core have traditionally had strong points of view, but in the past few years the rise of the internet and social media has opened up the conversation and helped galvanise campaigns around these kinds of films.
“People are putting across a strong argument through documentary. It is a very powerful medium,” says Fred Grace of Fat Rat Films, who with his partner, Gemma Atkinson, has been making films for charities for 10 years, including UK Uncut, made for BBC’s Newsnight in January this year. “People see the film then show it to friends, but it’s nothing without the campaigning that comes after it, creating a whole world through social media, websites and grassroots campaigning that galvanises people.”
The film, which highlighted the campaign against corporate tax avoidance by the eponymous group as they protested in London, has received more than 1,800 views on Vimeo since 1 February.
Marc Silver, co-founder of the Resist Network, a community dedicated to strengthening social movements through film, is currently directing Who is Dayani Cristal?, about the deaths of migrants in Arizona, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and due out in late 2011. He sees social media as both a tool to help make films as well as to extend their reach: “I put all of our research interviews online, which leads to me meeting new people and leads to those people suggesting ideas for the film and people asking: ‘Have you spoken to this person?'”