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To Tell the Truth Working for Change and The Strategy of Truth
Two films by Calvin Skaggs & David Van Taylor
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There are countless histories of narrative film, but the documentary has never received its due. TO TELL THE TRUTH presents two films that place familiar historical events in a startling new perspective and help viewers understand the choices behind, and consequences of, on-screen "reality."

WORKING FOR CHANGE, directed by Calvin Skaggs, explores the birth of the social documentary, featuring interviews with several members of the first wave of documentary filmmaking, as well as contributions from historians and critics, and a wealth of footage: essential viewing for anyone interested in film history and the power of media as a voice for truth-telling.

THE STRATEGY OF TRUTH, directed by David Van Taylor, explores the role of film as propaganda during World War II, and the different forms it took around the world. It also raises the central question of whether a film can be both documentary-reflecting the truth-and propaganda. Featuring a wealth of archival footage from the British, German, and American propaganda effort, along with interviews with film historians and veterans of the celluloid war effort, the film illuminates the complicated relationship between propaganda and documentary.

This rich two-disc set is packed with video extras:

  • Alec Baldwin on the importance of documentaries
  • Agnes Varda on the making of documentaries
  • Film historian Kevin Brownlow on Leni Riefenstahl, propagandist for the Nazis
  • Additional interviews with Jeffrey Richards, Jo Fox, and David Culbert
  • Two World War II documentaries: Let There Be Light and The Autobiography of a 'Jeep'

"For those doubting the power of documentaries to have a social impact, TO TELL THE TRUTH should give them an idea." —Andy Webster, NEW YORK TIMES "Week Ahead"

"A very important non-fiction series ... Fascinating ... Probing ... Two must-see documentary-on-documentary episodes." —Jennifer Merin, ABOUT.COM GUIDE TO DOCUMENTARIES

"What a great idea ... About nonfiction filmmaking, but that's just the through-line... This series is a new way of looking at history." —Tom Roston, DOC SOUP

"A unique intersection of art, reality, and social impact, WORKING FOR CHANGE is an outstanding resource for courses in film history, social movements, and mass communication. It is also a great choice for academic and public libraries." —Educational Media Reviews Online

"I highly recommend WORKING FOR CHANGE (1929–1941). It not only belongs in academic and public library collections, but could also provide an excellent resource in the classroom, particularly in relation to film history, social movements, government, and mass communication."Leonardo Reviews

"Captivating and enlightening, THE STRATEGY OF TRUTH is an outstanding resource for courses in film history, mass communication, and political science. It is also an excellent selection for academic and public libraries." —Educational Media Reviews Online

2015 Stranger Than Fiction, IFC Center NY
Official Selection, DOC NYC Festival at IFC Center, New York City

104 minutes / color/b&w
Closed Captioned
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2012
DVD Sale: $29.98

Subject areas:
Film History, Historiography, History (U.S.), History (World), Social Movements

Related Links:

Related Titles:
A Boatload of Wild Irishmen: The life and work of legendary director Robert Flaherty ("Nanook of the North"), the "father of documentary."

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Last Updated February 9, 2017
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