Given that documentary methodologies are situated within a digital media ecology today, this article considers the ramifications of social justice films that purport to establish emancipatory truth claims in an era of "fake news." In addition to treating documentary filmmaking as a methodology, rather than a discrete film genre, this article demonstrates the ways in which participatory media culture is reshaping what gets defined as "truth" and how it is achieved. Looking specifically at racial justice themes in Ava DuVernay's 13th, this article observes how documentary rhetorics are part of a larger media ecology that includes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Perhaps a defining feature of our cultural moment--at the same time that there is great suspicion regarding the relationship of images to "truth," there is also a great need and desire to establish non-racist narratives to counter the hegemonic historiography that passes for the "real" in U.S. culture. This article demonstrates how social justice documentarians are stepping up to the challenge.


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pp. 220-251
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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