Poverty From The Perspective Of The Poor

Documentary as a film genre is sometimes regarded as being made by and for do-gooders enjoyment. That isn’t always inaccurate. While there have been exemplary films about people living in hardship, more often than not the people making films and programmes on the subject of poverty neglect to involve anyone behind the camera who has direct experience of being poor and vulnerable.

Documentaries about the working class will only feel authentic when they are made by people who have experienced hardship.

Poverty is on the rise. But too often when evidence makes it to the screen, a sense of moral judgment appears to be built into its very fabric. Documentaries about working-class people are often shot and edited to look grey and lifeless. Or they will focus on a sad story of personal suffering, perhaps with a sudden happy ending after an external saviour enters the scene.

There tends to be little exploration of the wider social context or coverage of individuals and communities trying to help themselves. Therefore, it’s not surprising those on the lower rungs of society feel demoralized when they see themselves reflected on screen as either wasters or exceptional, with nothing in between.