by Xavier Toby in New Film on Friday 9 July 2010

Lately, we’ve been gifted a few astounding documentaries with the rare ability to educate and influence opinion, as well as being riveting viewing over their entire length. Documentaries can be a grind with no worthy content omitted as part of an effort to provide a comprehensive overview of a subject. The result is something that’s an essential item for any university library, but at over two hours a mission to watch.

Much more satisfying are the recent documentaries that come in at a lean hour and a half, and key to this achievement is the extensive research and painstaking editing and storyline work. Along with Food Inc, other outstanding examples include The Cove and Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Food Inc takes apart the American Agricultural Industry from all angles, cleverly letting the information itself damn the participants. My favourite part is the organic free-range chicken farmer who explains how healthy and popular his chickens are, while slitting their throats in preparation for sale.

It’s a reminder that no matter how humane the process, the meat on your table still had to die. Being an avid meat eater myself, I appreciated the honesty, as the temptation would’ve been to show such sustainable farming practices in the rosiest possible light.