In a recent interview with Marc Maron, director Barry Jenkins offered a few insights into the collision between fact, fiction, and truth:
There was an article that come out about this textbook [which was] telling kids, high school students, that the American slave trade was a system of conscripted labor… And I thought about that and I realized, “Oh, if I had only read the novels, the fiction of Toni Morrison as a high school student, I would have been closer to the truth of the experience than reading this fact-based textbook. And I think this idea of fact and fiction, that’s one thing, but I think we should really be talking about truth to a certain degree.
He goes on to speak about directing The Underground Railroad and how it relates to the intersection of these three things:
In this show, I’m trying to get away from fact or fiction and just speak to what’s truth.
It’s my (perhaps naive) opinion that most of us have an innate sense of the truth. We can recognize the truth of something when it’s presented to us. But the world we inhabit has done a magnificent job of twisting, distorting, and cutting us off from those parts of ourselves that sit up straight when truth comes around.
If anything, this is something I want to remedy in myself. I want to feel the hair on my arms stand up when the truth opens its mouth. And fixing myself in this way is only the start. Because after all, isn’t the first step in changing the world changing yourself?
Fact speaks to the head, fiction to the heart, but truth is the language of the soul.