Here’s Why Empathy is The Key to Good Storytelling

In this guest post, the filmmakers of the forthcoming feature documentary, “My Country, No More” explain the importance of empathy in the storytelling process.

If empathy is feeling with someone, sympathy is feeling for them. Sympathetic storytelling lets sentimentality get in the way of a good story. In the film “Into the Abyss,” Werner Herzog declares to a death row inmate, “I don’t have to like you, but you are a human being.”

Just because we dislike someone does not mean they don’t have a story worth sharing. How many TV shows out right now are about putting yourself in the headspace of a mad man?…

1. Storytelling is about shared experience.
2. Empathy is not sympathy.
3. Empathy is difficult.
4. Empathy leaves us with a feeling instead of telling us what to feel.


Empathy fuels our curiosity and reveals a
more nuanced way of looking at the world.
To approach situations empathetically is
to keep an open mind.



By Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling