A surprisingly large number of people, including documentary filmmakers, will strive to differentiate the nonfiction films they enjoy (and make) from something they've stereotyped as “documentaries.” Documentaries, from the reputation they seem to hold, are the films some of us had to watch during fifth grade history or eighth grade science. Sometimes derided as “chalk and talk,” they tended to be dry, heavily narrated, filled with facts, and painful to sit through. So ingrained is this model, it seems, that inexperienced or polemical filmmakers still imitate it, creating films that are little more than illustrated research papers created to “show” or “prove” something through a steady recitation of data. And so nonfiction ...

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