What is a Documentary Film?

In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director.

—Alfred Hitchcock

Rightly said by Alfred Hitchcock, Documentaries are non-fiction films that depicts reality for many purposes which can be educational, for giving instructions or even to maintain a historical record. Documentaries come in handy for many work institutions to teach reality-based principles as they are much informative. Earlier documentaries were called as Actuality Films, which uses footages of real-life events, objects and places. Documentaries have evolved through years and has been loved by many viewers other than educators and scholars. Bolesław Matuszewski was the pioneer of Documentary films, who wrote two of the earliest texts on cinema Une nouvelle source de l’histoire (A New Source of History) and La photographie animée (Animated photography). Documentary Filmmakers often take topics or scenarios which the main stream media or filmmakers often fail to consider. Documentaries are often interesting, impactful, upsetting, unexpected, ridiculous, rousing, entertaining and stunning. This is a genre where videos of people, events and places are taken altogether to create a story line and edited to make an actual film, that depicts a whole new perspective, for educational purposes or to depict a significant message to the viewers.

One question rings a bell is what is the actual motive behind documentaries than educational purpose? Documentary filmmaker endeavour to bring change in the society, they will probably expose a specific reason or foul play with the expectation that their film will help arouse the majority to request change.

INDIA UNTOUCHED Has Touched My Heart « Abdul Kalam Azad
A still from the documentary ‘India Untouched’ (Source: Google)

India Untouched is an example of documentaries for change. One must have thought that negligence of casteism isn’t as much as it was before Independence. In any case, this documentary shows us a brutal reality. Filmmaker Stalin K, investigated the subject of casteism and distance that has not died down throughout the years. Traversing eight states and four religions, this film will make it inconceivable for anybody to reject that untouchability that keeps on being polished in India. Some documentaries make an attempt to uncover a hidden secret or a mystery, such as Decoding the Great Pyramid gives consistent and all around educated responses to a significant number of the most confounding questions encompassing the development and motivation behind the pyramid. The film highlights experiences from a few exceptionally gifted archeologists and egyptologists. Aggregately, they sum up different parts of the pyramid’s scarily exact development. There are also documentaries for entertainment purpose such as Break the Silence– BTS. The documentary is a heart-felt look at the life of BTS (South-Korean Boy Band). The film offers a private look behind the scenes of the band’s 2018-2019 Love-yourself world tour. Film makers often get fascinated by an individual’s life story or in fact their own life events so they showcase it to the world for a change or maybe just for enlightenment. For instance, Stories we Tell a Canadian documentary film in which the writer explores her family’s secrets- including one personally related with authors own identity. Poetic documentaries focus on encounters, pictures, and demonstrating the audience the world through an alternate set of eyes.

Night Mail - Wikipedia
(Source: Google)

Night Mail is a 1936 poetic documentary where few workers on a train gather and sort postal sends to be conveyed to their destinations overnight. Some filmmakers aim to educate students or the viewers such as Education For A Sustainable Future analysis the blueprint of another 21st century schooling framework and how we can prepare individuals to adjust and flourish in a continually changing world. Expository documentaries set up a particular perspective or contention about a subject and regularly highlight “voice of God” style voice-over. For expository documentaries, the cinematographer is liable for gathering film that underpins and reinforces the spoken argument of the film, including stock footage, recorded film, b-roll, or re-institutions of historical events such as The Dust Bowl (2012). Ken Burns’ recorded record of this tragic drought season during the Great Depression utilizes photographs and realities to enhance the causes and effect of one of the most noticeably terrible droughts to plague North American farmland. These were the few forms or you may say the types of Documentaries. They maybe long, complex, slow, and evolved which tackles serious issues and definitely, they are not boring. Here is the list of Documentaries you must watch!


1. The Social Dilemma

2. Miss Americana

3. He Named Me

4. India’s Daughter

5. Purple Skies

6. Menstrual Men

7. Meet the Patels

8. Gods in Shackles

9. Icarus

10. Period. End of the sentence

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