It should be obvious that all documentary filmmakers have an agenda they hope to put forward. I’m not talking about Michael Moore and Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, The Smartest Guys in the Room) who obviously have a polemic to deliver, but about the countless docs, TV shows, news reports and educational pieces that evince a style that says, “We don’t have a point of view. We’re simply recording what’s in front of the camera and you make up your own mind.”A profound observation - but not surprising that Byrne should "get it", since he has been playing so deliberately for so long with that perception - see the Talking Heads film "True Stories" for a whole film exploring this. The post also explores other serious questions, and is worth a read.
These ostensibly objective works invoke specific filmic devices that audiences have come to accept and recognize as indicators of truth telling and impartiality. Upon examining these “unbiased” films, we may sense their deep, inherent agendas, but for the most part, the style masks the filmmakers’ underlying prejudices, and we buy into it.
Does that mean, then, that there is no such thing as objective truth? Well ... (to be continued)