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Overview of Documentary Websites Essay

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Updated: Sep 10th, 2021

This website is a personal website of Errol Morris a renowned film director. The website has many web pages such as: biography that describes famous works of EM, commercials directed by EM, news and events that feature EM, links to other film industry personnel engaged by EM, store that sells EM movies and books on EM’s work and interviews by and with EM. Most of EM’s work is based on non-fictional stories related to American politics and events. Some of the popular films of EM are “Gates of Heaven” and “The Thin Blue Line”; he received a special tribute at Sundance Film Festival in 2001.

Wattstax is a film about the lifestyle of African-American black community. Wattstax was a music concert organized by the Stax organization for the benefit of the southern black community and the performers. The original film featured in 1973, with a re-shot ending. The Issac Hayes songs “Theme from Shaft” and “Soulsville” were removed due to threats of rights dispute from MGM. The original lost ending records were uncovered by film restoration expert Tom Christopher from the film-handling and storing facility in Burbank. Tom worked on the records for weeks to restore 10 minute original ending that was filmed in the re-released film in 2003 after thirty years of its original release.

Ross McElwee is a professor in Department of Visual and Environmental Studies in Harvard University; he started his career as a studio cameraman and then freelanced and shot documentary films for D.A. Pennebaker and John Marshall. He started production and direction of documentaries in 1976 and since then has made seven feature-length documentaries. Film “Sherman’s March” has won the Best Documentary award at the Sundance Film Festival. Ricky Leacock reaction to Ross McElwee’s films is quoted in 2007 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Catalogue: “The influence of Direct Cinema punctured by the honesty of a personal, subjective style make McElwee’s work utterly poignant and determinedly entertaining“.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of international movies. The database is organized to allow search by title of the TV series or movie. The database that is also indexed by the country name has a provision to find the title of the TV series or the movie by the first alphabet of the title. The members of the online IMDb can post their comments about the feature, participate in online polls and post IMDb Resume that provides a web page with IMDb address. The website lists the most box-office hit movies and TV series, celebrity news, studio events and list of new movies that are released on DVD.

Super Size Me is a comedy drama and a documentary written and directed by Morgan Spurlock and released on 21 May, 2004. The director Morgan Spurlock indulges himself in McDonald’s fast food only diet three times a day for 30 days to investigate the effects of fast food on the health of Americans. He undergoes examination by three doctors to analyze the impact of this food on his physical and emotional health. In the quotes section Morgan mentions how schools and McDonalds reacted to his film by banning sugary soft drinks and offering healthy salads respectively. Morgan suggests that Super Size options must be avoided because the unhealthy food makes sick.

“Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids” is an Oscar award winner documentary. The documentary written and directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman was released on 29 July, 2005 in Taiwan. This film throws light on the life of children of prostitutes of Calcutta who live a deprived life in poverty. This film is released in USA with the title “The Kids of Sonagachi”. The focus of the film is the children, the director attempts to develop a relationship with them in order to compel them for education by engaging them in the art work such as photography. Not many children find school interesting and return to accustomed life.

Les Blank is an independent film director; Flower Films is founded by him. His films are the showcase of intimate glimpses of lives of the artists who lived and work at the periphery of American society. His films have been shown in numerous film festivals and museums. “Burden of Dreams” won British Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1982 and Golden Gate Award “Best of Festival” in San Francisco Film festival in 1982. He received American Film Institutes Maya Deren Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in 1990. Les has travelled to other continents to show and discuss his films. This website provides reviews and purchase order links for his films.

HBO documentary films are non-fiction popular films by renowned film makers. The website provides weekly documentary schedule that is telecast on the HBO channel. Sand and Sorrow the story of Darfur in African nation Sudan is the current featured documentary on HBO. The other new and upcoming documentary trailers are published on home page. The website hosts alphabetical catalog of HBO and Cinemax documentaries. Viewer can leave reviews and comments about the website or documentaries on the bulletin board. The Resources link on the HBO documentaries home page hosts WATCH IT AND LEARN the educational documentaries with guides for classroom discussion.

Independent Television Service funds and promotes the documentaries and dramas for the public television. ITVS presents the programs produced by the independent producers for the local, national and international audiences. ITVS programs address underrepresented community opinions and underserved audiences such as minors and children. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, since start in 1991 ITVS presents programs with creative risks and complex issues to build closer relationship between the people through public television. ITVS website has search tool to search for different subject and genre programs from different regions. ITVS international exchanges USA produced programs with other nations.

Point Of View (POV) established in 1988 showcases non-fiction films on PBS. P.O.V. films are recognized for intimacy, storytelling, timeliness and focus on contemporary social issues. The major film awards won by P.O.V. films are Emmys, George Foster Peabody Award, Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Broadcast Journalism Award, Academy Award, Cine Golden Eagles and Prix-Italia. P.O.V. films are watched by an average of 2.5 million audiences per program on PBS. P.O.V. involves its viewers in interactive television by broadcasting viewers’ responses and engages them on www and in community activities. P.O.V. films are reviewed by independent media professionals, stations programmers and PBS. P.O.V. is funded by PBS and many other foundations.

Independent Lens is a series of an Emmy award-winning documentaries and dramas that is broadcasted weekly on Public Broadcasting System. The films shown in the series are shot by independent film makers who have taken risks to picture untold stories. Independent Lens engages its viewers in sharing passions, ideas and opinions through Your Lens on the website. Independent Lens also involves community by organizing events with public television stations, community organizations and individuals for connecting them with information and resources for positive change.

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