chapter  2
14 Pages

Buddhism through the lens: a study of the study of Buddhism through film


When I began making my first professional documentary film, The Trap, I held the naïve idea that to make a documentary, all I needed to do was go out and “document” real life. The camera would act like a transparent window through which viewers could gain direct access to reality the way I saw it, the way it really was. I quickly realized, however, that the semblance of realism achieved in documentaries is often artificially constructed; what the audience sees on the screen is generally very different from what was actually filmed. But this made me wonder: if documentary films do not represents real facts about the world, then what makes them different from fiction? And, even more problematically, how can documentaries teach us anything true about the world? What follows is an account of my gradual realization that truth is different from fact. Indeed, I hold that it is because film can dispense with mere factuality that it can reveal different and deeper levels of subjective truth, which are just as true and empirical, if not more so, than so-called empirical factuality.