We have a lot to accomplish over the next week so let's work together to make everything work smoothly.
Today we are going to be discussing the genre of documentaries (you can use this worksheet to organize your notes). This handout will also help with your understanding.
Documentary filmmaking is a cinematic style dating back to the earliest days of film. While its most basic definition can be defined by Wikipedia as “a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspects of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record,” the style has become a catch-all for both a certain filmmaking style, as well as a noble cinematic pursuit of truth.
I have included the silent film classic documentary "Nanook of the North" (which was made before the term documentary was even coined). In 1989, this film was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"
As we look at the types of documentaries, here are some examples to help your understanding:
Poetic: Focus on experiences, images, and showing the audience the world through a different set of eyes. Abstract and loose with narrative, the poetic sub-genre can be very unconventional and experimental in form and content. The ultimate goal is to create a feeling rather than a truth.
Observational: These are exactly what they sound like -they aim to simply observe the world around them. The style is much less pointed than the expository approach.Observational documentaries attempt to give voice to all sides of an issue by offering audiences firsthand access to some of the subject’s most important (and often private) moments.
Reflective: These documentaries make no attempt to explore an ouside subject. Rather, they focus soley on themselves and the making of the film.
Peformative: These documentaries use a combination of styles to stress a subject experience and share the emotional response. They ofent connect and juxtapose personal accounts with larger or political issues. This has sometimes been refered to as the "Michael Moore style" as he often uses his own peronsl stories as a way to construct social truths. We will be watching Bowling for Columbine in class, and looking at this validity of this style of moving making. This is the assignment that goes with the viewing.
Documentary Addict is an AWESOME curated website for you to check out as we explore the craft of movie making.