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“2016: Obama’s America,” by the conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza is the second-highest grossing political documentary in box office history, second only to Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
At the same time “Innocence of Muslims,” the crudely made YouTube video, has caused a firestorm of protest throughout the Muslim world.
Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr says that neither of these current videos would have found wide distribution five years ago, but now filmmakers are finding more places than ever to showcase their views. As he writes in the Boston Globe:
What has changed? The revolutions wrought by digital technology upon the production, distribution, and exhibition of films. For decades, those three areas were controlled by the major movie studios, but with the switch from analogue to bits and bytes and with the rise of the Internet, anyone with a point of view has become empowered. Low-cost digital video cameras and editing software have opened the gates of production to thousands of newcomers. The instant connection of online social media means you can reach out to potential viewers and funders in the next state, country, or hemisphere.
Burr says that movie theater owners are also feeling greater pressure to put people in seats and therefore are more open to showing films that appeal to targeted audiences.
But, Ty warns, the availability of these films puts more pressure on audiences to be more critical of what they see.
“Just because a movie calls itself a documentary does not mean it’s telling the unvarnished, balanced truth,” Burr told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “There’s a world of agit-docs out there, as I call them, and you have to do your homework.”