What is a Documentary Film?

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Documentary films are non-fiction films that are created for a specific purpose, such as education, entertainment, or maintaining a historical record. These films often have dramatic elements and point of view. Here’s a closer look at this genre. You’ll learn what makes a documentary so unique and interesting, and enjoy the experience. But first, let’s talk about what is a documentary film. Here are some of the most important things you should know before you watch one.

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Documentary films are non-fiction

Documentary films are non-fiction works of art that capture current events. According to Horace, art should please and instruct. However, it’s not the only purpose of a documentary film. A good example is the Holocaust, which was documented in Peter Forgacs’ Night And Fog, which is not a history of the Holocaust, but instead presents a subjective account of what occurred. Some films also explore social issues, such as Robert Gardner’s Forest of Bliss.

Many documentaries are used in schools worldwide to teach children about various subjects. In fact, documentaries are often shown more than once as part of a school lesson. Translations of documentary films face a number of challenges, including the language and the working conditions of the film’s production team. Here are a few ways translations can help ensure the success of a documentary film. Here are some examples of documentaries from different countries:

A documentary film is a documentary that presents information about reality in an accurate and truthful manner. The process of filmmaking is subjective and manipulated, and some films have been mistaken for documentaries. But ultimately, the authenticity of a documentary film is determined by how the filmmaker treats the material and creates the story. The creative and technical treatments of a documentary film are key to ensuring its authenticity. For instance, in The Thin Blue Line, filmmaker Errol Morris re-enacts scenes and sequences of the murder to demonstrate whether the man was truthful or not.

They document real life

Unlike fiction, documentary films focus on real events, rather than general human conditions. Instead, narrative drama and fiction focus on the actions and relationships of individual people. For example, The Fourth Estate is a British documentary about the London Times, while Citizen Kane focuses on powerful newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. Another example is City of Gold (1959), a documentary comprised of still photographs of Dawson City, Canada, taken in 1898 and present day.

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Many documentary films do not feature words; for example, the 1942 film Listen to Britain used the camera to show people’s lives and a soundtrack. A similar style is found in the Koyaanisqatsi trilogy and the Qatsi trilogy, which was produced by Stuart McAllister. In these works, the filmmaker attempts to capture the «great pulse» of human experience by using slow motion photography. In addition, a 2004 documentary called Genesis depicts animal and plant life in various stages of expansion and decay and has little narration.

There are several distinct forms of documentary film. Each has a distinct purpose, subject matter, and production techniques. Documentaries usually feature non-actors and are shot on location. They do not use sets, and their lighting is generally what is already present at the site of the subject. The filmmakers may choose to incorporate people, but are not required to develop their characters. In addition, documentary films are often non-fictional, so the filmmaker must be as truthful as possible.

They have a point of view

The term «documentary» is misleading and inaccurate. The term is not simply a representation of reality; it is a willed presentation created for or by someone. The ideal of «representing reality» is misleading, as it implies filming «normally,» rather than being creative. Documentary filmmakers must abide by a certain standard of objectivity in their presentation, while being objective. The footage they use as evidence for their point of view is not a representation of reality but a simulation of reality.

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While the documentary genre has some value as a truth-telling tool, the reality that it documents is always subjective. It may cloak itself as objective or indexical, but it will never be «reality» in itself. There are too many determinants and too many actors in the filmmaking process for there to be any real reality. According to Dant, Material Culture in the Social World, «documentary films are primarily subjective representations of a particular reality.

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As such, documentary films use various expositional strategies. One type is the first-person perspective, which portrays the experience of a specific individual. The second type is the omniscient position, which reveals the thoughts of the characters. The point of view is also important for film audiences, who need a connection to the characters in the film. One successful example is the television series «Desperate Housewives» in which the narrator Mary Alice Young passed away at the beginning of the series.

They have dramatised elements

A documentary film may contain elements of drama. Dramatised elements recreate events or project future events. Examples of dramatised elements include climate change, police reports, and war. These elements are based on factual evidence and scientific reasoning and are presented in a dramatic manner. While documentary filmmakers are bound to present facts accurately, the story behind the documentary is often more interesting than the actual events. Here are examples of dramatised elements in documentaries.

Creating characters in a documentary is important to the filmmaking process. However, as a documentary is often linear in time, it is difficult to create characters in the film, especially when the content is factual. The trick to creating characters is deciding when to reveal certain details. Similarly, drama is more likely to be realistic and believable if a documentary filmmaker can create an emotional connection with the audience.

One element of drama in a documentary is the introduction of a character’s point of view. A character may narrate their story from a personal point of view. These are especially effective if the story is about a particular issue or personal story. While these elements may be distracting, they can also make a film more compelling. If the director uses a personal point of view, it is possible that the audience will identify with the characters and find the film compelling.

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They feature re-enactments

Some documentaries include re-enactments, but many viewers are hesitant to watch them, primarily because of the historical accuracy of the events they depict. While these films may not be as historically accurate, viewers should still be able to discern the re-enactments from the actuality footage. Many documentarians do not explicitly label re-enactments to avoid misleading viewers. Ultimately, documentaries must be factual in order to inform and educate the public about the past.

Re-enactments in documentary films serve a variety of purposes. They can help fill narrative gaps, give more texture to historical footage, and present alternate versions of events. Some re-enactments are actual events or recreations of historical events. Some documentaries use living history historical re-enactments, while others simply stage an event to tell the story. But regardless of the use of re-enactments, filmmakers need to carefully consider the intentions of the film-makers before incorporating them into a documentary.

Re-enactments in documentary films can help viewers feel more emotionally attached to the past. Some of these films are meant to invoke feelings of past horror, such as the chilling impact of the body parts of Morris Black. But others are more important for the film’s social and political purpose. For example, some films aim to raise awareness of the Holocaust or the exploitation of women in America. Re-enactments can also be used to address social injustices, such as human trafficking.

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They involve interviewing relevant people

A documentary film involves interviewing relevant individuals for context and story. Documentary filmmakers use multiple cameras to capture live action and process footage. Using more than one camera allows filmmakers to take a variety of angles, and can also allow for creative compositions. While filming a documentary, filmmakers should also make use of B-Roll, or non-traditional footage, to fill in any missing information. B-Roll may include footage from a family photo album, or even a still of a family moment.

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When conducting an interview, it is important to remember the etiquette of asking a question in an appropriate manner. The ideal interviewee is knowledgeable and has firsthand experience of the situation or event. If possible, the subject should be willing to answer a question in a way that highlights the facts of the case. When conducting an interview, it is also helpful to have an idea of the aesthetics of the film before the interview.

Often, the filmmaker will ask a single person several questions, each with a different purpose. If the subject is a famous historical figure or a popular celebrity, he may want to talk about his own life. A documentary film may require more than one interview to tell the story. It is best to consult a professional when selecting a subject. The right person can provide you with a wealth of information that you can use for the film.

There are many different types of documentaries: Expository, Scenics, and Docufiction. Learn the difference between these different genres. Documentaries are often considered «specialty» films, and are grouped by subject matter. Examples of such genres include military and cultural arts documentaries, transport and sports documentaries, and travelogues. Documentary filmmakers began assembling compilations in the early 20th century, including Esfir Schub with The Fall of the Romanov dynasty (1927) and Emile de Antonio in 1964 with Point of Order!, about the McCarthy hearings. And The Last Cigarette combines archival propaganda against smoking with testimony from tobacco executives before the U.S. Congress.

Expository documentaries

An expository documentary is a film or television show that is not a neutral representation of reality but instead presents a point of view or argument. They often employ the use of narration or titles and use rich male voices to convey a tone of objectivity and omniscience. The images, meanwhile, are secondary to the argument presented and are often used as visual aids to enhance the narrator’s credibility.

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A documentary is a film or television show about a subject that is related to the viewer. It tries to provide information about a particular issue, and in many cases, uses firsthand accounts to tell the story. While these films tend to be longer than fictional stories, some recent examples are mini-documentaries. In addition to these styles, there are several other types of documentaries. In fact, there are several different types of documentaries, and there are many different types of them.

Several examples of expository documentaries include Man With a Movie Camera, Gilles Groulx and Michel Brault’s Les Racquetteurs, and Albert & David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin’s Gimme Shelter. Others include D.A. Pennebaker’s The Shock of the New (1980) and John Berger’s Ways of Seeing (1997), among others. Other classic examples of documentary films include Frank Capra’s «Why We Fight,» the acclaimed «Plow That Broke the Plains,» and Pare Lorentz’s Plow That Broke the Plains (1936).

Poetic documentaries are a style of documentary film that draws upon experience and images to present a different viewpoint. Poetic documentaries are loosely-styled and experimental in form, depicting feelings and experiences in a poetic way. Poetic documentaries have a similar style to expository documentaries, but lack the poetic eloquence and lyrical phrasing of a poet.

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A film or TV show that uses expository documentary storytelling is often in the form of a narrator addressing the audience directly. While the narrator may use voiceover to explain what is happening in the film, the images often reinforce the narrator’s voiceover. While it’s difficult to distinguish an expository document from an observational film, it is a fine example of expository documentary.

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The history of documentary films is vast. The field is constantly evolving, but one thing is certain: documentaries will always present a new perspective. As long as they convey an authentic perspective, documentaries will be the best choice for the average audience. They provide insight into different historical moments and allow the audience to better understand the world around them. They may also serve as a vehicle to educate and inform others.

Another mode is the poetic mode. Poetic documentaries focus on mood, juxtaposition of images, and a general feeling, and often use music to make their point. One of the most popular examples of a poetic documentary is Une Histoire du Vent. It relies heavily on symphonic compositions and musical undertones to communicate the subject. It’s not uncommon for a documentary to utilize all of the elements of both types to create a more authentic and personal experience.


Docufiction is a type of film that mixes documentary elements with elements of fiction. Most docufiction films are made in real time, and the characters are played by amateurs or nonprofessional actors who portray the fictionalized versions of the real-life subjects. While docufiction can overlap with the mockumentary style, the two types are not synonymous. It is a form of documentary filmmaking that dates back to the late 1970s. Some consider docufiction to be a form of literary journalism.

One example of docufiction is Flee, which fit into the hybrid category. This movie, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, follows the true story of an Afghan man who escaped to Denmark. Flee uses a pseudonym to tell the story and is an animated film. The film is widely acclaimed and won a wide variety of awards, including the Oscar. Its style and content allows for more creative retellings of the past.

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Another example is Colossal Youth, a 2006 docufiction film by Pedro Costa. The film follows the life of a man called Zachariah. Docufiction and docudrama are sometimes confused, since they are both types of movies. The documentary form must be evaluated in relation to post-war propaganda analysis. In order to make it more meaningful, we must understand the ethics of the film form and how it affects the way it portrays the world.

Another example of docufiction is historical fiction. This genre incorporates historical details, while also creating fictional characters. Historical fiction often includes accurate historical details, and the main character confronts a central conflict in the plot. In addition, historical fiction can also be metafiction, which acknowledges that it is fiction. Biographies are also examples of historical fiction, but these biographies are written by biographers.

Docufiction is a popular genre of movies and TV shows. The genre originated with compilation films and has become popular. Most often, these movies are specialized, non-general interest documentaries. In 1927, Esfir Schub pioneered this style with The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty. Emile de Antonio later directed a film called Point of Order, which focused on the McCarthy hearings. Similarly, The Last Cigarette combines the testimony of tobacco executives with propaganda from the tobacco industry about smoking.


The first documentaries that featured extensive scenery were travelogues. Popular during the first two decades of the 20th century, these films allowed audiences to see different parts of the world. Most of the time, these films were simply photos, and they focused on the locations and people rather than stories. Today, documentary cinematographers have a much more diverse range of styles and mediums, allowing them to create unique visual stories that have a wider appeal.

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