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Documentary modes.pptx

  1. Documentary modes
  2. Poetic Documentaries
  3. Poetic documentaries, which first appeared in the 1920s, are exactly what they sound like. They emphasise encounters, pictures, and presenting the world to the audience from many perspectives. The poetic subgenre can be quite unorthodox and experimental in style and substance since it is abstract and free with narrative. Instead of achieving a truth, the ultimate objective is to evoke a sensation. This method teaches filmmakers how to experiment with all the elements of documentary filmmaking by coming up with imaginative compositions, thought-provoking juxtapositions, and unique cinematic narrative techniques. Terrence Malick's Journey of Time, which features a tonne of confusing, poetic, abstract imagery, is a contemporary example of this. Even if there is some narration scattered throughout the picture, I would still classify the most of it as poetry.
  4. The linear continuity of a poetic documentary is sacrificed in favour of the atmosphere, tone, or the juxtaposition of images. The director of photography is frequently requested to take beautifully framed, aesthetically arresting photographs that may tell a tale without extra spoken context because lyrical documentaries frequently have little or no narrative material. An example of a poetic documentary that combines imagery and aesthetics to assist disclose an inner truth is Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia (1938). Early documentarians adapted Soviet montage theory and the photogenie concept from French Impressionist cinema into documentary filmmaking to produce what Nichols would later refer to as the poetic style. When he stated that "kinochestvo" (the quality of being cinematic) is "the art of organising the necessary movements of objects in space as a rhythmical artistic whole, in harmony with the properties of the material and internal rhythm of each object," documentary pioneer Dziga Vertov came remarkably close to defining the mode. (1984) Michelson, O'Brien, and Vertov.
  5. In its poetic form, documentary movies frequently present their own personal perspectives on their subjects (s). Documentaries shot in the poetic form are sparse on rhetoric and eschew standard narrative content, leaving individual characters and events undeveloped in favour of conveying a specific atmosphere or tone. This is especially evident in the editing of lyrical films, because maintaining continuity is essentially of no importance. Poetic editing, on the other hand, looks at "associations and patterns that involve temporal rhythms and spatial juxtapositions." (1991, Nichols) The poetic form is exemplified by Joris Ivens' Regen (1929), which combines random images to portray a downpour in Amsterdam.The poetic form is frequently seen as avant-garde since it depicts such irrational feelings with little to no rhetorical meaning, and later works in this manner (Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1982), for example) are probably included in that category.
  6. Poetic Documentaries Examples ● Coal Face (1935) — Dir. Alberto Cavalcanti ● Fata Morgana (1971) — Dir. Werner Herzog ● Tongues Untied (1989) — Dir. Marlon Riggs ● Welt Spiegel Kino (2005) — Dir. Gustav Deutsch
  7. Expository Documentaries
  8. The closest thing to what most people think of as "documentaries" is definitely expository documentaries. Expository documentaries strive to inform and/or persuade, in stark contrast to poetic documentaries, frequently through omnipresent "Voice of God" narration free of ambiguous or lyrical vocabulary. The popular Ken Burns and television (A&E, History Channel, etc.) styles are included in this model. The straightforward expository approach is the most direct in documentary storytelling, therefore consider using it. It is among the best methods for disseminating a message or information. The video essay would be the best modern genre or style to compare this to, in my opinion. So consider something like Nerdwriter that discusses a certain issue with engaging pictures and clear narration that supports their claim.
  9. Expository documentaries provide a certain point of view or argument regarding a topic and frequently use voice-over in the "voice of God" manner. For explanatory documentaries, the cinematographer is in charge of gathering video, such as stock footage, archival footage, b-roll, or reenactments of historical events, that strengthens and supports the stated argument of the film. The documentary The Dust Bowl (2012) by Ken Burns tells the story of the terrible drought that happened during the Great Depression. Burns supplements his explanation of the causes and effects of one of the greatest droughts to ever affect farming in North America with images and statistics.
  10. John Grierson, a pioneer of documentary film, provides an explanation for the shift away from lyrical documentary, saying, "was sucked into social propaganda... We moved on to discuss global societal issues, departing from the lyrical flow ourselves." Sussex in 1972 The expositional method, which places a strong focus on rhetorical content and has goals of information transmission or persuasion, differs significantly from the poetry mode in terms of visual practise and story-telling techniques. A unique novelty of the documentary's expositional technique is narration. Narration carries the weight of explaining and justifying a movie's rhetorical substance, first seeming as an omniscient, omnipresent, and objective voice intoned over video. The poetic method of documentary relied on the filmmaker's aesthetic and personal interpretation of a subject, whereas the expositional mode gathers material that supports the spoken narrative.As a result of this change in visual strategy, expositional images are now edited in a way known as "evidentiary editing," in which they "illustrate, illuminate, provoke, or act in contrast to what is said. We take our lead from the commentary and understand the images as evidence or demonstratio." 107; Nichols, 2001 The engagement of rhetoric with expositional-based visual data support continues today and really makes up the majority of documentary content. Its usefulness as a means of information delivery is largely relied upon in news reports, feature films, and numerous television programmes.
  11. Expository Documentaries Examples ● The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) — Dir. Pare Lorentz ● City of Gold (1957) — Dir. Colin Low and Wolf Koenig ● Waiting for Fidel (1974) — Dir. Michael Rubbo ● March of the Penguins (2005) — Dir. Luc Jacquet
  12. Observational Documentaries
  13. Documentaries with an observational focus seek to document their surroundings. The Cinéma Vérité-style, which emerged in the 1960s along with improvements in portable film equipment, is significantly less focused than the explanatory method. Observational documentaries provide viewers exclusive access to some of the most significant (and frequently intimate) moments in the subject's life in an effort to represent all sides of a debate. Filmmakers frequently use the observational method in other film genres to convey a sense of reality and truth because it has had such a significant impact throughout the years. One of the most well-known examples of this is the Barbara Kopple film Harlan County, USA.
  14. This is the best illustration of "cinema verité" as it relates to observational documentaries. Kopple follows her subjects about with an objective view using a handheld method and an empathic lens; it is unvarnished, real, and the storytelling is flawless. If you enjoy filming observational-style documentaries, make sure you have a telephoto lens on hand because the secret to producing one is to follow the action and be prepared to record what is happening at any time. Throughout his career, one director has exclusively produced observational documentaries, and he also happens to release a movie practically every year. He goes by the name of Fred Wiseman, and he's possibly my favourite director. Consider his documentary, Boxing Gym, which is just that—a look at one boxing facility and all the clients—as one example. You sit next to them the entire time while they share their experiences and admit their doubts, worries, and failures.
  15. By posing as a fly-on-the-wall and observing the subject's real-life without interfering, observational documentaries, a form of documentary popularised by the cinema verité movement, seek to learn the ultimate truth about their topic. On observational documentaries, the cinematographer is frequently asked to be as discrete as possible in order to catch their subjects in a natural, unguarded condition. The 1960 documentary Primary, which follows the Wisconsin primary between John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, is an illustration of this direct cinema style of documentarian.
  16. After the return of documentarians to Vertovian notions of truth, as well as the advancement and development of cinematic hardware in the 1960s, the observational form of documentary emerged. "I, a camera, fling myself along," Dziga Vertov wrote in the manifestos for his Kino-Eye movement. "I manoeuvre in the maelstrom of movement, recording movement, shocking with motions of the most complicated combinations." (1984) Michelson, O'Brien, and Vertov Documentarians were able to eschew the tripod's fixed point when they switched to 16mm equipment that was lighter and shoulder-mounted cameras. The documentarian was freed from heavy audio gear thanks to portable Nagra sync-sound systems and unidirectional microphones. Now that Vertov's goal could be realised by a two-person film crew, the documentary genre was seeking actual truth.
  17. In contrast to the subjective nature of poetic films and the rhetorical emphasis of expositional documentaries, observational documentaries typically focus on simple observation, leaving viewers free to draw whichever conclusions they see fit. There were basic rules that had to be followed for pure observational documentaries: no narration, no scene-setting, no interviewees, and no music. The "fly on the wall" viewpoint is favoured, while editing techniques favour long takes and little cuts.The resulting video gives the impression that the viewer is experiencing the experiences of the subject firsthand. For example, in D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back [sic] (1967), they travel to England with Bob Dylan, in Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies (1967), they endure the harsh treatment of patients at the Bridgewater State Hospital, and in Robert Drew's Primary, they go on the campaign trail with John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey (1960.)
  18. Observational Documentaries Examples ● Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963) — Dir. Robert Drew ● Salesman (1969) — Dir. Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin ● Hoop Dreams (1994) — Dir. Steve James ● The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun (2006) — Dir. Pernille Rose Grønkjær
  19. Participatory Documentaries
  20. Participatory documentaries incorporate the director into the story. This involvement can be as modest as a filmmaker asking questions or giving hints to their subjects while not in front of the camera or as significant as a filmmaker directly affecting the plot. In the aforementioned illustration, Michael Moore has a direct impact on how his subjects respond to his questions and, as a result, has a participatory impact on the film's overall storyline. We'll talk more about Michael Moore in a moment, but he is a very difficult director. The amount of filmmaker involvement necessary to qualify a documentary as "participatory" is a topic of some discussion in the documentary field. Some claim that all documentaries are interactive by their very nature. Whatever the case, beginners might find this technique to be the most natural.
  21. The engagement between the documentary filmmakers and their topic is what gives participatory documentaries its name. As a result, the interviewer and interviewee must both be captured by the cinematographer. Participatory documentaries, often referred to as interactive documentaries, emphasise direct contact with subjects and record authentic emotional responses and exchanges. They frequently promote the filmmaker's perspective of the truth as "the" reality. Several exchanges that are recorded lend credence to the filmmaker's viewpoint or demonstrate the film's purpose. Michael Moore's documentaries frequently involve audience participation while also including elements of observational and performative styles, such as Bowling for Columbine (2001).
  22. Free Solo is a contemporary illustration of this. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, the directors, frequently discuss the issue and provide their ideas and influences to the narrative. It's a delightfully bizarre look at how the director is able to be so immersed in the subject matter without becoming obtrusive. Nonetheless, there are passages in the movie where they actually discuss how the documentary crew's presence would influence how the plot turns out.
  23. "The filmmaker does interact with his or her subjects rather than unobtrusively observe them," according to the participatory mode. The film explicitly states that this interaction—whether it takes the form of cooperation or conflict between the director and contributor—creates significance. Chronicle of a Summer by Jean Rouch, from 1960, is a prime example of participative cinema. This can simply imply that the voice of the filmmaker or filmmakers is audible in the finished product. What takes on in front of the camera, according to Nichols, "becomes an index of the kind of interaction between filmmaker and subject. The filmmaker "becomes a social player (almost) like any other (nearly because the filmmaker keeps the camera and with it a degree of potential power and influence over events)" in the participatory style of documentaries, according to Nichols (2010). (p. 139.) The voice of the director is revealed through interviews as it mixes material about the tale they are attempting to tell. The Interrotron, a device created by Errol Morris, serves as an illustration of this. This device enables the subject to interact directly with the director while maintaining eye contact with the camera.
  24. Participatory Documentaries Examples ● Chronicle of a Summer (1961) — Dir. Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch ● Sherman’s March (1985) — Dir. Ross McElwee ● Paris Is Burning (1990) — Dir. Jennie Livingston ● The Danube Exodus (1998) — Dir. Péter Forgács
  25. Reflexive Documentaries
  26. Participatory films and reflective documentaries both frequently feature the filmmaker as a character in the movie. Contrary to participation, most makers of reflexive documentaries don't even try to delve into unrelated topics. Instead, they are just concerned with themselves and the process of making the movie. Man with a Cinema Camera, a 1929 silent documentary by Soviet director Dziga Vertov, is the outstanding example of this genre. It's a perfect example of the innovative and difficult pictures a genuine reflexive documentary may produce. This can be seen in contemporary works like Kirsten Johnson's Cameraperson. The way this documentary tells a story about the filmmakers themselves is amazing. Johnson creates a portrait of who she is and what she sees as a filmmaker by only using photos from cameras she has used on assignments throughout her career.
  27. Documentaries that are self-reflexive emphasise the connection between the filmmaker and the audience. A cinematographer will record behind-the-scenes video of the whole film production process, including editing, interviews, and post-production, since the subject of documentary films is frequently the process of making them. Man With a Movie Camera, a self-reflective documentary by Dziga Vertov from 1929, is famous for its actor-free depiction of Soviet urban life.
  28. The reflexive mode analyses the documentary's inherent quality, demystifying its mechanisms and analysing its ramifications. Also, there are filmmakers in the movie. For instance, Dziga Vertov included footage of his brother and wife working on filming and editing, respectively, in Man with a Cinema Camera (1929). To "assist the audience in their comprehension of the process of construction in film so that they may develop a sophisticated and critical attitude," it was intended to include these images. (Ruby 2005) As it automatically and critically questioned the observational mode, reflecting on observational techniques and their ability to capture real realities, Mitchell Block's...No Lies (1974) operated in a noticeably different way.In this way, the reflexive mode of documentary frequently serves as a kind of internal regulatory body, enforcing moral and technical limits inside the documentary form.
  29. One element of the reflexive method of documentary is the use of reenactment. Direct communication with the audience occurs when the director demonstrates their vision for the event or assists the interview subject in visualising their vision. In the documentary "The Thin Blue Line," Errol Morris used reenactment video to illustrate the circumstances surrounding a guy who was wrongfully accused of killing a police officer. Morris believed it was best to employ visual aids to give the viewers a better grasp of the situation since there was no actual footage of the events that occurred.Reenactments can be a useful tool for a director to employ to incorporate their vision, but they greatly depart from the Cinéma vérité type of documentary and are disliked by certain purists.
  30. Reflexive Documentaries Examples ● …No Lies (1973) Dir. Mitchell Block ● Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989) Dir. T. Minh-ha Trinh ● Biggie & Tupac (2002) Dir. Nick Broomfield
  31. Performative Documentaries
  32. Performative documentaries emphasise subject experience and share an emotional response with the world through an experimental fusion of styles. They frequently link and contrast intimate stories with more significant political or historical themes. This is commonly referred to as the "Michael Moore-style," as he frequently exploits his own life experiences to create social realities (without having to argue the validity of their experiences). This can be seen in more modern works like Won't You Be My Neighbor? a movie chronicling Mr. Rogers's life and contributions. The video uses interviews as well as archival TV programme footage, mixing various styles and tones to produce an emotional gut punch towards the end that is partially a result of the way the film is put together.
  33. The aim of performative documentaries is the filmmaker's interaction with the subject, which serves as a springboard for examining more expansive, subjective facts about politics, history, or particular racial or ethnic groups. A cinematographer is frequently asked to cover the documentary- making process as well as close-up shots that show the direct and frequently intimate contact between subject and filmmaker. The 2004 documentary Supersize Me by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock details his 30-day fast food fasting experience, tracking the physical problems, health issues, and subsequent doctor visits in an effort to cast doubt on the McDonald's fast food he consumed.
  34. The third mode Nichols considers, the performative mode, is readily mistaken with the participatory mode, and Nichols remains vague about their differences. The fundamental difference between the two modes appears to be that while the participatory mode involves the filmmaker in the narrative while attempting to construct universal truths, the performative mode involves the filmmaker in the narrative while attempting to construct personal truths that are important to the filmmaker personally.The performative style, which is intensely personal, is especially well suited to telling the stories of filmmakers from socially marginalised groups because it allows them to express their unique viewpoints without having to question the veracity of their experiences, as in Marlon Riggs' 1990 documentary Tongues Untied about his experiences as a gay black dancer in New York City. The performative film has far greater creative licence in terms of visual abstraction, story, etc. because it rejects a rhetoric of persuasion.
  35. In contrast, Stella Bruzzi (2000) has a more expansive understanding of the performative mode. Bruzzi contends that documentary films are by definition performative because they are "inevitably the product of the intervention of the filmmaker onto the scenario being filmed," which is a concept of the performative inspired by J. L. Austin that Nichols ignores. Particularly, according to Bruzzi, films that emphasise "artificialization through the camera" are ideal illustrations of the performative style. The "performance camera" documents by reenacting the subjective perspective of the subjects (not necessarily that of the filmmaker) in the documentary films, expanding on the topic of the performative mode by Nichols and Bruzzi.The performative documentaries put the spectator in the subjects' shoes by "performing" their points of view. Wang further distinguishes between "the critical performative style," which pushes the audience to feel disgusted by, furious at, and critical about the subjects, and "the empathic performative mode," which encourages audience empathy with the subjects.
  36. Rhetoric and argumentation return to the documentary film as the director firmly emphasises a message now that they are openly discussing their position on the film being created and are visible to the spectator. Michael Moore is arguably the most well-known director now using this documentary style. In ethnographic movies like Jeff Himpele and Quetzil Castaneda's "Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza," the performative mode may also be seen. The ethnographers in this visual ethnography of the spring equinox cultural event that involves new age tourism at a revered Maya site in Mexico both document the event and offer an ethnographic questioning of the meanings that are projected on the tangible cultural artefacts that draw 50,000 visitors to the equinox at Chichen. In contrast to Michael Moore's performative documentaries, which have a clear takeaway message and argument, the ethnographic filmmakers created this film as an open- ended, polyphonic work that gives the audience more freedom to define the meanings, messages, and interpretations of what it stands for.
  37. The performative mode of documentary is used to break from a monological or monotone understanding not only through the use of dialogical principles of dialogical anthropology, but also of experimental ethnography. In general, documentaries, especially educational documentaries, are scripted such that the audience is persuaded to accept a specific lesson or message. In order to broaden the concept of experimental ethnography as a set of guidelines for writing a text to generating and editing ethnographic video, The Himpele and Castaneda produce an ethnographic documentary.
  38. Performative Documentaries Examples ● Drifters (1929) — Dir. John Grierson ● Night and Fog (1956) — Dir. Alain Resnais ● The Thin Blue Line (1988) — Dir. Errol Morris ● Bowling for Columbine (2002) — Dir. Michael Moore
  39. References ● Premium Beat. (Unknown). The 6 Types of Documentary Films. [Online]. The 6 Types of Documentary Films. Last Updated: July 26, 2022. Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2023]. ● Master Class. (Unknown). Film Documentary Guide: 6 Types of Documentaries. [Online]. Film Documentary Guide: 6 Types of Documentaries - 2023. Last Updated: June 7, 2021. Available at: guide [Accessed 10 March 2023].​ ● Wikipedia. (Unknown). Documentary mode. [Online]. Documentary mode - Wikipedia. Last Updated: 17 September 2022. Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2023].