I asked this question in class the other day. I asked this under the assumption that all media is manipulative.
Here is an official definition of manipulation from the word IQ website:
The process of media manipulation is the way in which individuals or groups use various tricks in dealing with the media in order to create an image of their side of an argument that is most favorable to the receiver.
Such tricks are based on the use of logical fallacies and propaganda techniques, and are often used by suppressing information or points of view by crowding them out, by inducing other people or groups of people to stop listening to certain arguments, or simply by drawing their attention elsewhere. Many of the more modern manipulation methods are types of distraction, on the assumption that the public has a limited capacity for attention.
Based on this definition, I don’t think the film LIFE.SUPPORT.MUSIC. was very manipulative. I don’t think that the director had a very clear and specific line of argument, therefore the chances of him manipulating us into seeing his side are slim. I think the film was very transparent. The goal was for the audience to follow along with the story and empathize with the family.
This is an example of something manipulative, but its not over the top:
This however is over the top manipulation: