By Joyce Eng

The films by the panelists at Gold Derby’s Meet the BTL Experts: Documentary panel cover vastly different subjects — from trans visibility (Sam Feder‘s “Disclosure”) to regenerative agriculture (Josh Tickell‘s “Kiss the Ground”) and diplomacy (Dror Moreh‘s “The Human Factor”) to the secret and possibly endangered world of truffle hunting (Gregory Kershaw‘s “The Truffle Hunters”) — but they all can open eyes and minds, and most of all, effect change. Click on each name above to be taken to each person’s individual interview.

“That was absolutely on my mind when I was making the film,” Feder says. “When a marginalize community gets mainstream attention, we see again and again that violence follows, so I was starting to question what was my role. I wanted to immediately start that conversation and I feel like our impact campaign has been able to go so far beyond the initial goals of the film. We have lawyers now that use the film to prepare their arguments when they’re defending trans clients. There are California judges who share clips of the film to talk about the biases they might have toward trans clients when they come into the courtroom. The possibilities of impacting social change were there from the very start.”

Moreh thinks the expectation of changing minds “is always there,” especially for his politically charged films. “The Human Factor” dives into the three-decade effort to secure peace in the Middle East, recounted by six American behind-the-scenes negotiators who were part of it instead of any front-facing figure. The Israeli filmmaker’s perspective on the futile Camp David talks in 2000 changed after hearing the men’s accounts, as have, he’s heard, some viewers.

“Normally it’s hard to challenge that narrative that comes from the politicians. And I think that our job is to expose what goes on inside and try to tell a different story in order to create or change reality for people who are not privileged to see those kinds of circumstances,” he states. “I think it’s incredibly important for each one of us in this day and age — especially when people get his information from social media, from his cycle of friends and think that represents the reality outside in the world — I think that our job as filmmakers is really to shed light into those dark places where people don’t want you to see what’s really going on.”

Watch the full panel to hear the group discuss how they come up with titles and what they’d like to see a documentary on.

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