Documentary films are awesome. Fact! Not only can they be thoroughly entertaining and moving, like the recent Amy (Winehouse… you may have heard of her), they can also be used bring political and social issues to the attention of millions of people and sometimes achieve actual change, like Blackfish did for orcas, and Making a Murderer may well do for Steven Avery.
Documentaries have the power of showing the real world to people in a way that grabs them and makes them think. If you’d like to be utterly inspired, watch a few things on this list of docs. It’s hard to think of more moving, well made films, documentary or otherwise.
Unfortunately in the world of film, documentary as a format is still the underdog. There are thousands of documentary films produced every year but only a select few are seen by big audiences. Many people love watching docs, but the option to go and watch one in the cinema is pretty limited. Large cinema chains rarely show any documentaries, and if they do they tend to show those that have a lot of financial backing. There are big documentary film festivals, but entry passes can cost hundreds of pounds, meaning that there are hordes of factual filmmakers out there who have little to no chance of their films reaching an audience.
Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom! There are a few initiatives out there that understand that filmmaking is not, and should not be all about the money. One of these little gems is Cheap Cuts, a documentary festival that is free to enter and free to visit. The founders of the festival feel that everyone with a story to tell should have the chance to get their documentary screened, no matter how big their budget. Only documentary films under 30 minutes are being selected as they believe that the filmmakers behind these types of films have the least access to suitable festivals and screenings. Their ethos is: “Cheap Cuts believes that film should be accessible to all, both sides of the camera. Therefore, the festival screening and submissions will remain free of charge.”
The festival’s jury panel is made up out of a number of notable names in the documentary industry, including the Head of Programming for the Lima Independent International Film Festival, the directors of award-winning documentaries My Kosher Shifts and The Lanthanide Series, and the producer of six short films for BBC’s ‘Inspiring Others’ season.
We think it’s a fantastic idea to make documentary films more accessible to both audiences and filmmakers.