Environmental documentaries that reach across the aisle: proposed methods on how to demonstrate diverse values in documentary film in order to engage a wider audience

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Documentary film has achieved an acclaimed status as an effective form of communication, one that can serve as an advocate for environmental issues. Documentaries intending to engage wider audiences and break down polarized issues can employ specific strategies that have proven to create subsequent positive impact. Comparing 'Before The Flood', 'Gasland', and 'Last Call for The Bayou', I analyze strategies in each film that were either effective or ineffective in helping to resolve environmental issues and polarization. The Cultural Cognition Project suggests audiences are more willing to incorporate differing views when perspectives are presented in a way that allows them to grow identity rather than challenging and demonizing firmly held values. I apply the identified techniques to shape my creative process of constructing my film, 'The Gilded Trap,' with the goal of presenting issues pertaining to climate change from a new angle, thus engaging a wider audience, and increasing cultural cognition regarding the negative impacts of climate change in New England.


The Gilded Trap is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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