Humana Lecture: Is Documentary “Truth”?: Modes of Documentary Storytelling

Young 113

Fueled by the streaming boom, documentaries—once relegated to niche festivals, and formulaic "eat your spinach" educational programming—have become a staple of our media diet. But what is a documentary? Documentary consumption is high, but documentary literacy remains low. Come hear filmmaker and educator, J. Christian Jensen, explain how a grasp of the diverse "modes" of documentary storytelling might be the best way to understand the form's uneasy relationship with "truth" and what makes it the most malleable (and exciting?) form of popular cinema.

Jensen's work has screened broadly, winning over a dozen jury awards. His Academy Award®-nominated film, White Earth (2014), played at over 50 festivals and universities around the world. He is a former instructor of documentary film, most recently teaching at Stanford and Northwestern. Jensen’s credits as an editor include: the Netflix Original non-fiction series, Last Chance U (2016), Out Run (2016), True Conviction (2017), and Scenes from the Glittering World (2022). Jensen also edited the HBO true crime series The Murders at Starved Rock (2021) and the forthcoming documentaries Anthem (2023) for Disney and The Entangled: Tree Stories (2023) for HBO. Jensen is a graduate of Stanford University’s Documentary Film M.F.A. program and is based in the mountains of Eastern Idaho.

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