Take the time to dig deeper

Documentaries and independent films help people to explore various subjects

Dear Editor,

As it happened, recovering from illness and stretched out mostly on my back for two days, I turned from the diversions of reading books and news stories, to exploring the website of the Sundance film festival in Utah. When I read the descriptions of films and documentaries shown there, I became aware that they almost uniformly dealt with their subjects in very specific, often excruciating personal terms.

This made me think of how good films and documentaries typically bring a strong focus to aspects of life we sometimes are minimally aware of. They often explore personal, emotional and controversial subjects we might ponder and stay with for quite a while. That’s quite often different to what we do when we read or hear a two or three minute story in the paper or hear it on air.

For me, it is a helpful antidote or even a reality check to the quick read or the briefer news stories we hear every day. For an hour or more, a good feature or documentary film can immerse us in characters and situations that exact some significant response from us.

Recently I watched two movies one Arrival, the other Moonlight. In the first, there is the tension between a military response to an unknown extra-terrestrial arrival and a response on the other hand that is curious and inquiring perhaps a metaphor as to how we deal with strangers. The other movie dealt with the arc from childhood to adulthood of a victimized boy who eventually found an emotional and trustful adult relationship.

There are similar stories buried often in news stories we read or hear, but it often takes a long-form movie or a documentary to explore them more deeply. It like taking a break from the 24 hour news cycle and the busy lives we lead, to having a Sabbath or a meditative break to dig into things more deeply for a while.

George Jason