Documentary films are an odd duck for me. I find it very hard to separate the film maker and their ability from the subject matter; thereby I tend to give praise or criticism of the director based on the content. This isn’t fair to the film maker and it allows my personal experience with the subject matter, be it mild interest, vast knowledge, or complete disinterest, to influence my opinion of the film, regardless of its technical excellence… or lack thereof. It’s hard enough to divorce the content from the director in other film genres and categories if you’re partial to that genre. Who out there doesn’t give a pass to a director or writer when a huge plot hole appears and goes unaddressed? You have to suspend belief to compensate and some of us are willing to do so. But docs are not about suspending belief; they are about informing, educating, and awareness as well as entertaining and sharing on subjects that matter to the film makers. So it makes me curious of how documentary films are juried at festivals. Are they subject to the same criteria as other genres or must they happen to strike a chord with the jury?
We get many docs at Skyline Indie Film Fest, feature length and shorts. I have never envied the screening panel on doc nights and the judges I nearly pity. This is my own shortcoming, I am fully aware. And in order to bring a better festival to Winchester I want to say I’m working on it.
For the record, Sean Patrick Crowell’s GROUNDED is a great informative, entertaining doc that won Fan Favorite at SkIFF 2013! You can find it at groundedthemovie.com.