What is a documentary?Documentary has evolved continuously from inception, however its purview andmethods stay ambiguous and its limits endlessly enlarging.‘documentaries explore the mysterious of actual people in actual situations’. Adocumentary is a movie saturated in realism. Documentaries are often used to reveal anunusual, interesting or unknown angle. Topics are limited only by ones imagination."Documentaries bring viewers into new worlds (i.e Blue Planet) and experiencesthrough the presentation of factual information about real people, places, and events,generally -- but not always -- portrayed through the use of actual images and artefacts.But factuality alone does not define documentary films; its what the filmmaker doeswith those factual elements, weaving them into an overall narrative that strives to be ascompelling as it is truthful and is often greater than the sum of its parts."-- Sheila Curran Bernard,
What does a documentary do?0 Preserve0 Persuades0 Analyse0 Express0 Discuss0 Explore0 Intervene0 Enlighten0 Entertain0 Promotes an ideal-ology
Documentary modes0ExpositoryFrank Loyd Wright (1998, Ken Burns)Voice of GodDirect presenting of factsCan include all kinds of evidence
0ObservationalHoop dreams (1994)Minimal or no narrationLong takes, real time, synch-soundRarely/never see filmmaker
0InteractiveRoger and me (1989, Michael Moore)Filmmakers is present at times (conventionalfor Moore)Filmmaker makes the action happen
0EssayisticHistory and memory (1998, Rea Tajiri)First person address: “I”Tells stories from a personal point of view
0ExperimentalTarnation (2003, Jonathan Caouette)Obeys documentary contractAnything goes
When watching a documentary remember…0 Everything in a documentary is intentional.Who/what/when/where/why are all decided by the filmmaker:camera movements, framing, editing, music etc which focus onhitting ‘realism’.0 Relationship between filmmaker and subjectWhat’s the claim to truth/authenticity?0 Relationship between documentary and realism?Is the subject being presented in a way that won’t harm his/herintegrity?We will keep all this in mind.
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