In a perfect world when a movie maker set out to make a documentary film he would endeavor to accumulate as much unbiased, purposeful information about his selected subject as he could find. At this point he would use his skills as director and editor to compile a movie without bias to properly shine the illuminating light of reality on the subject involved. As always, things are never quite as simple as they should be. Many documentaries turn out to have a bias based on the beliefs of the filmmaker resulting in a film that lacks the balance that the art of documentary-making requires.
This point is especially true when regarding subjects that are likely to polarize human beliefs. I have found that religion and politics are the two subjects where it is usually impossible to find an impartial voice. It seems that many documentary makers approach their film making as a method of converting the viewer to their prejudiced opinions instead of using the documentary as a vehicle for factual accuracy.
For this reason it is essential that as a viewer you always watch with a critical eye. Realize that a filmmaker is merely human and undoubtedly has ideas about reality which, without realizing it, they could be attempting pass on through their films. At the same time, its just as important to understand you hold your own prejudice beliefs. Just because a fact doesn’t conform to your preconceived ideas doesn’t mean it has no value or that its untrue. When someone confronts you with an idea that seems strange or conflicts with what you believe to be true try reexamining your own thoughts. You never know, you might just learn something.
One of the best things about the fact that so many of us now have constant Internet availability is that we have such easy access to a wide range of media sources. It seems miraculous that we have such a great, almost inexhaustible access to free documentaries online today. For those of us who learn to watch with an open mind this creates a world where limitless learning is available on demand.