Documentary Film

Vol. 4, No. 5

Documentary Filmmakers write about their work.

In this issue:

  • 1 read more In This Issue

    In This Issue

    by Ervin Beck

    Documentary film is the creative nonfiction genre in the cinematic arts. Since its early form as newsreel, it has morphed into a ubiquitous expressive and artistic medium, with examples abounding in television networks, classrooms, popular movie theaters and art film houses. Documentary films have earned their inclusion in the Academy Awards.

    Yet, except for such stars as Michael Moore and Ken Burns, the makers of documentary films tend to be invisible, partly because of the seemingly functional nature of the films and partly because of the collaboration required to produce them. If a film is made by a team of ...

  • 1 read more Salvation for a Skeptic's Soul

    Salvation for a Skeptic's Soul

    by Burton Buller

    “The movie is the rival of schools and churches, the feeder of lust, the perverter of morals, the tool of greed, the school of crime, the betrayer of innocence…They debauch the minds of children, inflame the lusts of youth, harden the hearts of sinners. They are a trap for souls, a mocker of God, a curse to America!” – John R Rice in What’s Wrong with the Movies? (1938, 1964).

    I Want To Be a Filmmaker!

    I grew up in a Mennonite Brethren community. One of the key markers that distinguished us from those around us was that we ...

  • 0 read more A Passion for Film: My Life as a Filmmaker

    A Passion for Film: My Life as a Filmmaker

    by David Dueck

    Like the rest of my Mennonite Brethren Church congregation in Boissevain, Manitoba, I sat with growing anticipation as the lights went down and the first flickering images lit up the screen. It was my first experience seeing and hearing an actual film presentation. It was 1954 and, as a fourteen year old who had grown up on a mixed farm in rural southern Manitoba, this was a moment that would alter the course of my life!

    The group that was presenting the film was The Shantyman Organization, whose mission was to visit the logging camps throughout the province and present ...

  • 0 read more Dedicated Observers

    Dedicated Observers

    by Paul Hunt

    I had just returned from filming a family of seven for a fundraising video for the Centre for Autistic and Developmental Disabilities (CADD) and wondered why I had such an enjoyable time. There were no interviews, no prompting, just me capturing their everyday lives, honestly, in real time.

    Back in my days of illustrating children's books, much like a photographer, I had to be content with the drawn and painted image of a book cover on a single, two-dimensional plane. But I always wanted to move inside the picture and see what the image would look like from different ...

  • 0 read more There's No Money in Documentary Filmmaking

    There's No Money in Documentary Filmmaking

    by Dirk Eitzen

    I might as well say that right up front, for anybody who might suppose otherwise. This is not a complaint; it’s just an observation. But I am guessing that, in one way or another, it is a subtext of much of what appears in this special issue on documentary.

    I don’t make documentaries for a living. I’ve made a bunch, but my bread and butter come from teaching. I’m a professor. I’m occasionally envious of filmmaker friends who travel the globe working on fascinating documentary projects, but when the conversation turns to health insurance and job security and the challenges ...

  • 0 read more Branch Valley Productions

    Branch Valley Productions

    by Jay Ruth

    I have worked at video production since 1985, almost all my adult life. A “selected” list of my work includes 82 titles ranging from 4 to 120 minutes, about 35 hours worth, plus many more I haven’t kept a record of other than through old invoices. Much of my work has been of a “documentary” nature, with a focus on history, church, community, identity, and storytelling. It’s not hard to see why, as I look back at the way I began.

    I never studied, anticipated, or really even thought about film or video before taking it up. I got a ...

  • 0 read more Burton Buller Filmography

    Burton Buller Filmography

    by Burton Buller

    From 1970 to 2011

  • 0 read more David Dueck Filmography

    David Dueck Filmography

    by David Dueck

    From 1973 to 2012

  • 0 read more Paul Hunt Filmography

    Paul Hunt Filmography

    by Paul Hunt

    Film Links

  • 0 read more Dirk Eitzen Filmography

    Dirk Eitzen Filmography

    by Dirk Eitzen

    From 1985 to 2007

  • 0 read more Jay Ruth Filmography

    Jay Ruth Filmography

    by Jay Ruth

    From 1985 to 2012