Looking at the titles of some of the fall's most noted documentaries, one could get an impression of a world spiraling desperately out of control.
With titles such as "The House I Live In," Eugene Jarecki's Sundance-prize winning examination of the war on drugs opening Oct. 5; "How to Survive a Plague," David France's look at AIDS activism (Sept. 21); "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare," Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke's take on U.S. healthcare (Oct. 5); and "Detropia," Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's exploration of Detroit as a focal point of economic and social change (Oct. 5), this seems a time for serious films on serious subjects.
One could easily frame this as a season of socially conscious docs coming back to the fore.
"It's never gone away," filmmaker Grady said via email on the apparent resurgence of social issue documentaries. "And, in fact, as newspapers continue to dwindle and investigative journalism seems to be evaporating, they more and more are filling in the cracks. Also, every four years [near presidential election times], there seems to be a surge in big issue/social docs. It's a good time to force conversations."
Although "Tears of Gaza," Vibeke Lokkeberg's chronicle of the bombing of Gaza in 2008 and 2009 by the Israeli military (Sept. 21), adds to the upcoming big-issue documentary releases, there are others worth noting that play on the lighter side.