Confession and Testimony

Documentary historian Bill Nichols notes that the interview in documentary draws from several cultural institutions, the religious confessional, Freudian psychoanalysis and evangelical testimony. These institutions, as theologian Wiliam Dyrness points out in Poetic Theology, have liturgical and religious roots. Famously, it was Augustine’s Confessions that marked an inward turn (or the exploration of one’s self) in the search for God. But what is telling about the literary genre of confession is that it is apparently not enough to simply confess to one’s self. Rather we have to make those thoughts public, as Augustine does in the Confessions. The confessor, in other words, seeks to speak the truth, in a very personal and revealing way to someone else. Through history this practice has taken on various forms, not least of which is the practice of psychoanalysis.


– from the upcoming book “How to Film the Truth: The Story of Documentary Film As a Spiritual Journey” to be released in the Summer of 2018 by Wipf & Stock