Nanook of the North poster. Flaherty 's Nanook of the North in , documentary film embraced romanticism ; Flaherty filmed a number of heavily staged romantic films during this time period, often showing how his subjects would have lived years earlier and not how they lived right then.
For instance, in Nanook of the North, Flaherty did not allow his subjects to shoot a walrus with a nearby shotgun, but had them use a harpoon instead. Some of Flaherty's staging, such as building a roofless igloo for interior shots, was done to accommodate the filming technology of the time. Paramount Pictures tried to repeat the success of Flaherty's Nanook and Moana with two romanticized documentaries, Grass and Chang , both directed by Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack.
The city symphony[ edit ] City Symphony Films were avant-garde films made during the s to s. These films were particularly influenced by modern art: L Rees,  According to Scott Macdonald , city symphony film can be located as an intersection between documentary and avant-garde film: Rees suggest to see them as avant-garde films. Paul Strand, , Paris Nothing but the Hours dir.
But the most famous city symphony films are Berlin, Symphony of a Great City dir. The film is shot and edited like a visual-poem.
A City Symphony Film, as the name suggests, is usually based around a major metropolitan city area and seek to capture the lives, events and activities of the city. But most importantly, a city symphony film is like a cine-poem and is shot and edited like a "symphony". In this shot from Man with a Movie Camera , Mikhail Kaufman acts as a cameraman risking his life in search of the best shot The continental, or realist, tradition focused on humans within human-made environments, and included the so-called "city symphony" films such as Walter Ruttmann 's Berlin, Symphony of a City of which Grierson noted in an article  that Berlin represented what a documentary should not be , Alberto Cavalcanti 's Rien que les heures , and Dziga Vertov 's Man with a Movie Camera.
These films tend to feature people as products of their environment, and lean towards the avant-garde. Kino-Pravda[ edit ] Dziga Vertov was central to the Soviet Kino-Pravda literally, "cinematic truth" newsreel series of the s. Vertov believed the camera—with its varied lenses, shot-counter shot editing, time-lapse, ability to slow motion, stop motion and fast-motion—could render reality more accurately than the human eye, and made a film philosophy out of it.
Newsreel tradition[ edit ] The newsreel tradition is important in documentary film; newsreels were also sometimes staged but were usually re-enactments of events that had already happened, not attempts to steer events as they were in the process of happening.
For instance, much of the battle footage from the early 20th century was staged; the cameramen would usually arrive on site after a major battle and re-enact scenes to film them. One of the most celebrated and controversial propaganda films is Leni Riefenstahl 's film Triumph of the Will , which chronicled the Nazi Party Congress and was commissioned by Adolf Hitler. Frank Capra 's Why We Fight — series was a newsreel series in the United States, commissioned by the government to convince the U.
Constance Bennett and her husband Henri de la Falaise produced two feature-length documentaries, Legong: It also created newsreels that were seen by their national governments as legitimate counter-propaganda to the psychological warfare of Nazi Germany orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels.
Conference of "World Union of documentary films" in Warsaw featured famous directors of the era: In Britain, a number of different filmmakers came together under John Grierson. They became known as the Documentary Film Movement. Grierson, Alberto Cavalcanti , Harry Watt , Basil Wright , and Humphrey Jennings amongst others succeeded in blending propaganda, information, and education with a more poetic aesthetic approach to documentary. Their work involved poets such as W. Auden , composers such as Benjamin Britten , and writers such as J.
Among the best known films of the movement are Night Mail and Coal Face. Smith was anti-nazi color film    created by Stefan Themerson and being both documentary and avant-garde film against war.
It was one of the first anti-nazi films in history. Shooting on location, with smaller crews, would also happen in the French New Wave , the filmmakers taking advantage of advances in technology allowing smaller, handheld cameras and synchronized sound to film events on location as they unfolded. The directors of the movement take different viewpoints on their degree of involvement with their subjects.
Kopple and Pennebaker, for instance, choose non-involvement or at least no overt involvement , and Perrault, Rouch, Koenig, and Kroitor favor direct involvement or even provocation when they deem it necessary. The fundamentals of the style include following a person during a crisis with a moving, often handheld, camera to capture more personal reactions. There are no sit-down interviews, and the shooting ratio the amount of film shot to the finished product is very high, often reaching 80 to one.
From there, editors find and sculpt the work into a film. The editors of the movement—such as Werner Nold , Charlotte Zwerin, Muffie Myers, Susan Froemke , and Ellen Hovde—are often overlooked, but their input to the films was so vital that they were often given co-director credits.
Political weapons[ edit ] In the s and s, documentary film was often conceived as a political weapon against neocolonialism and capitalism in general, especially in Latin America , but also in a changing Quebec society. Among the many political documentaries produced in the early s was "Chile: Compared to dramatic narrative films, documentaries typically have far lower budgets which makes them attractive to film companies because even a limited theatrical release can be highly profitable.
The line blurs between documentary and narrative and some works are very personal, such as the late Marlon Riggs 's Tongues Untied and Black Is Black Ain't , which mix expressive, poetic, and rhetorical elements and stresses subjectivities rather than historical materials. The commercial success of these documentaries may derive from this narrative shift in the documentary form, leading some critics to question whether such films can truly be called documentaries; critics sometimes refer to these works as " mondo films " or "docu-ganda.
Documentary filmmakers are increasingly utilizing social impact campaigns with their films. Although documentaries are financially more viable with the increasing popularity of the genre and the advent of the DVD , funding for documentary film production remains elusive.
Within the past decade, the largest exhibition opportunities have emerged from within the broadcast market, making filmmakers beholden to the tastes and influences of the broadcasters who have become their largest funding source. The making-of documentary shows how a movie or a computer game was produced. Usually made for promotional purposes, it is closer to an advertisement than a classic documentary. Modern lightweight digital video cameras and computer-based editing have greatly aided documentary makers, as has the dramatic drop in equipment prices.
The first film to take full advantage of this change was Martin Kunert and Eric Manes ' Voices of Iraq , where DV cameras were sent to Iraq during the war and passed out to Iraqis to record themselves. National Geographic television collaborates local video production agencies to present the best content for viewers, APV delivered modern documentaries programming focussed on Hong Kong Local region with collaborating National Geographic.
Documentaries without words[ edit ] Films in the documentary form without words have been made. From , the Qatsi trilogy and the similar Baraka could be described as visual tone poems, with music related to the images, but no spoken content. Koyaanisqatsi part of the Qatsi trilogy consists primarily of slow motion and time-lapse photography of cities and many natural landscapes across the United States.
Baraka tries to capture the great pulse of humanity as it flocks and swarms in daily activity and religious ceremonies. Narration styles[ edit ] Voice-over narrator The traditional style for narration is to have a dedicated narrator read a script which is dubbed onto the audio track. The narrator never appears on camera and may not necessarily have knowledge of the subject matter or involvement in the writing of the script. Silent narration This style of narration uses title screens to visually narrate the documentary.
The screens are held for about 5—10 seconds to allow adequate time for the viewer to read them. They are similar to the ones shown at the end of movies based on true stories, but they are shown throughout, typically between scenes. Hosted narrator In this style, there is a host who appears on camera, conducts interviews, and who also does voice-overs.
Docufiction[ edit ] Docufiction is a hybrid genre from two basic ones, fiction film and documentary , practiced since the first documentary films were made. DVD documentary[ edit ] A DVD documentary is a documentary film of indeterminate length that has been produced with the sole intent of releasing it for direct sale to the public on DVD s , as different from a documentary being made and released first on television or on a cinema screen a.
This form of documentary release is becoming more popular and accepted as costs and difficulty with finding TV or theatrical release slots increases. It is also commonly used for more 'specialist' documentaries, which might not have general interest to a wider TV audience.
Examples are military, cultural arts, transport, sports, etc.. Similarly, The Last Cigarette combines the testimony of various tobacco company executives before the U. Congress with archival propaganda extolling the virtues of smoking. Poetic documentaries, which first appeared in the s, were a sort of reaction against both the content and the rapidly crystallizing grammar of the early fiction film.
The poetic mode moved away from continuity editing and instead organized images of the material world by means of associations and patterns, both in terms of time and space. Well-rounded characters—"lifelike people"—were absent; instead, people appeared in these films as entities, just like any other, that are found in the material world. The films were fragmentary, impressionistic, lyrical. Their disruption of the coherence of time and space—a coherence favored by the fiction films of the day—can also be seen as an element of the modernist counter-model of cinematic narrative.
The "real world"—Nichols calls it the "historical world"—was broken up into fragments and aesthetically reconstituted using film form.
Black, White, Grey , in which he films one of his own kinetic sculptures, emphasizing not the sculpture itself but the play of light around it; Oskar Fischinger 's abstract animated films; Francis Thompson's N.
Expository documentaries speak directly to the viewer, often in the form of an authoritative commentary employing voiceover or titles, proposing a strong argument and point of view. These films are rhetorical, and try to persuade the viewer.
They may use a rich and sonorous male voice. The voice-of-God commentary often sounds 'objective' and omniscient. Images are often not paramount; they exist to advance the argument. The rhetoric insistently presses upon us to read the images in a certain fashion. Historical documentaries in this mode deliver an unproblematic and 'objective' account and interpretation of past events.