Variety’s FYC Fest Documentary Day highlighted six stand-out documentarians who opened up about their philosophies on filmmaking and the urgency of the stories they tell. Selected panelists included Ryan White, Emma Pildes, Tia Lessin, Brett Morgen, Ed Perkins and Sara Dosa — all of whom have released new feature-length documentaries in the last year.

“Since I started working in documentary in ’89, I’ve had a very singular goal, which is to try to use the medium to tell stories that can only be told in cinema — to use sound and picture to do things that one can’t achieve in a book or can achieve in an article,” said Morgen, who directed, produced and edited the musical David Bowie memoir “Moonage Daydream.”

Morgen explained how he made the film by “employing non-biographical techniques,” such as placing greater emphasis on Bowie’s worldview rather than his historical past over the course of the 135-minute feature. Perkins adopted a similar mindset when confronted with the task of making “The Princess” stand out from the countless retellings of Princess Diana’s tragic death.

“I strongly felt that a lot of the retellings, especially in the documentary form were sort of —they were quite interior, Perkins said, acknowledging the public fascination around the royal’s life following her death. “Their conscious aim was to try to get inside Diana’s head and to psychoanalyze her and try and work out her motivations … For me, the thing that was more interesting and less explored about the Diana story was not so much what it said about her, but rather what her story said about all of us.”

Pildes and Lessin added that their most recent collaborative project, “The Janes,” is intended to also evoke introspection in viewers by shining light on the ever-present struggle for women to access affordable abortions — oftentimes being forced to seek help through illegal means. The documentary’s January 2022 release predated the Supreme Court’s June decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, though the feature is no less timely.

“It felt profoundly important to give these women a platform to bear witness about what this country looks like when women don’t have a right to choose, because there’s 50 years of people that don’t know what that looks like,” Lessin said.

Watch the full conversation above.