Documentary Modes and Arguments I

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25 terms · Terms not included: interactive, hybrid, cinema of engagement, essay film, deconstructive forms.

documentary film

a visual and auditory representation of the presumed fact, real experiences, and actual events of the world through intellectual insight that operates according to the economics of information. Cornerstones of this film style are nonfiction and non-narrative.

nonfiction films

Films presenting (presumed) factual descriptions of actal events, persons, or places, rather than their fictional or invented re-creation.

experimental films

Films that represent internal aspects of the human experience, like sensory states, emotions and dreams, in a non-narrative, non-realist fashion through experimentation with form an abstract imagery.

non-narrative films

Films organized in a variety of ways besides storytelling; they employ organizational forms such as associtaions, lists, repetitions, or contrasts. This organization style may use stories, but they are secondary to the pattern.

rhetorical position

the stance that a documentary filmmaker takes according to certain perspectives and attitudes that explore, interrogate, analyze, berate, or reflect.

analytical (interrogative) position

a film that is rhetorically structured in terms of implicit or explicit question-and-answer form an that identify a subject as under interrogation.

expressive postion

a quality of documentary films the goal of effectively conveying thought and meaning takes precedence over standardized models of "objectivity."

persuasive position

a documentary that articulates a perspective that expresses some other personal or social position using emotions or beliefs an aim to persuade viewers to feel and see in a certain way.

social documentary

a documentary that examines and presents both familiar and unfamiliar peoples and cultures as social activities from around the world with the gold of authenticity and discovery.

political documentary

documentaries with the aim to investigate and celebrate the political activities of men and women as they appear within struggles of small and large social spheres. They tend to take analytical or persuasive positions hoping to provoke/move viewers with the will to reform social systems.

ethnographic documentary

an anthropological film that aims to reveal cul6tures and peoples in the most authentic terms possible, without imposing the filmmaker's interprettion on that experience.

news (public affairs for television)

noted for their tough honesty and social commitment.

muckracking

The investigation and exposure of corruption that often violates widely held values or scandal.

realist cinema

The construction of a cinematic world that bears strong resemblance to the world with which viewers are already familiar. Realism also involves a process of storytelling that typically passes unnoticed by means of techniques such as continuity editing.

direct cinema

A documentary style originating in the United States in the 1960s that aims to observe an unfolding situation as unobtrusively as possible, related to cinema verité.

cinema verité

A French term meaning literrally "cinema truth"; a style of documentary filmmaking first practiced in the lat 1950s and early 1960s that used unobtrusive, light-weight cameras and sound equipment to capture a real-life situation. US equivalent was direct cinema.

observational

A documentary mode that attempts to make the camera observe the world without interaction or intervention that is commonly characterized by a fiction-like stress on continuity of time and space, synchronized sound, and the avoidance of interviews.

poetic

A documentary mode that stresses form or pattern over an explicit argument, and contains experimental characteristics.

reflexive

A documentary mode that calls attention to the filmmaking process by drawing attention to the documentary and the film itself. This mode is highly intellectual and meta-communicative.

performative

A documentary mode that stresses emotional involvement the world of the film, that simulates what it is like to witness a particular experience in an affective way.

compilation documentary

One of two main styles of documentary that does not shoot new footage, but instead draws on previously existing materials from archives or other sources. Its emphasis is on argument, structure, and organization. Editing mobilizes its complex forms of montage and relationships between images.

docudrama

In film, television, and staged theatre, _________ is a documentary-style genre that features dramatized re-enactments of actual historical events.

expository

A documentary mode that uses a "voice of god" to guide the viewer to understand the information that is presented. This mode shares qualities with the news and television.

participatory

A documentary mode in which the filmmaker openly plays a vital role in the actions of the film by interacting with subjects, provoking situations, and including interviews that exist only because the filmmaker is there.

observational documentary

One of two main styles of documentary that emphasizes shooting original material that explores and observes the world through interaction with the world and the establishment of a relationship between the camera, the filmmaker, and the subject. Composition, lighting, and mise-en-scene in these films is critical.

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