The first reading for this week, written by Paul Ward (entitled Fiction and Nonfiction: The Grea Divide?) highlights an ongoing debate between the respective genres of doco and drama that has been simmering away in the cauldron for decades. Personally, I don't see why so many people get their knickers in a twist when one mode borrows stylistic elements from the other and appropriates them as it sees fit. To me, it's kind of like that whole naturalistic VS digital photography debate... it's old! And anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get with the times and move on, and accept the fact that technological convergence has given birth to a certain convergence in genres over the years, that is not nearly as much of a bad thing as the puritans would have us believe.
Take, for instance, Aussie filmmaker Murali K. Thalluri's feature length debut of last year - 2:37. Though it was a completely dramatised account of one girl's final day in school (the day the commits suicide), it contains several interview-style black and white sequences typical of documentary, but used in this case to heighten the sense of drama and conflict within the narrative. In this day and age, filmmakers don't just use these unconventional effects willy nilly, they're there to serve a particular purpose. And if blurring the distinctions from time to time makes anyone uncomfortable, I feel sorry for them!
In postmodern times, we should be revelling in the opportunity to experiment and borrow from other genres. We plan to use aesthetic elements from both naturalistic and experimental documentaries.. there's nothing wrong with hybrids, people! If you can balance one thing with another, then that is a work of genius - not madness. The fact of the mater is, documentary to modern audiences consists of far more than your average discovery channel polemic - it requires artistry and craftsmanship if it is going to succeed against its increasingly stiff competitors - yes, including drama.