Over the last week, I've been busy attending Hot Docs, one of the coolest film festivals you can attend, and the largest documentary fest in North America. Screening after screening, I sat there watching excellent films (which you will hear about soon!), and watching packed houses visibly moved by them. One of the sentiments you'll most often hear: "Thank you." Q&A after Q&A, audiences thank the filmmakers for what they've created, and the lives they've shown on the big screen. Yet most will get very little play outside of the festival circuit.
This baffles me.
I understand why some people aren't into documentaries -- they want escape and entertainment in their films, and only attend movies that will give them that. I know quite a few people who see nothing but the biggest releases for this very reason. But the thing is -- they aren't the only type of moviegoer out there; moreover, we're living in a society where voyeurism sells. We follow the Tweets of the famous, overindulge in "reality" TV, ingest gossip on a daily basis, delight in exposes, read the news, watch real people become celebrities, follow each other's every move through the Internet ... yet we won't go out and see a documentary.
People, they're good. They're heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and laughter-inducing. They'll teach you something and make you think, but they'll also inspire and entertain you. Hot Docs is the only festival I've ever attended (or group of movies I have ever watched) where I like almost every one, and love more than I ever thought possible -- Dear Zachary, Protagonist, Girls Rock!, Billy the Kid, Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse... There's a wonderful and vast world outside of Michael Moore.
They are, simply, so very worth your time. So next time you're thinking of watching some ridiculous reality show, just say no and choose a documentary instead.