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The documentary film consists of a group of moving images, which serve to interpret real events for entertainment or education, and the Scottish teacher John Grierson, who studied mass communication in the United States, used the term documentary film in the mid-1920s.

The documentary which was derived from the French word documentaire, and documentaries made a great contribution to the development of realism in films, and examples of the first forms of documentary films include the portrayal of the events of the Bolsheviks coming to power in Russia in 1818-1917, in which the images were used as propaganda In 1922, the American director Robert Flaherty presented the documentary Nanook from the North, which was a record of the life of the Eskimo, which was built based conservation, and served as the prototype for many other documentaries. Documentary interpretation of history based on factual news material.

Types of documentary films

There are many types of documentaries, the most important of which can be summarized as follows:

  • Explanatory Documentary Film:

These films address viewers directly, either through an on-screen TV commentator, or through narration from off-screen, and freely use interviews, B-roll footage, and archive footage.

  • Impressionist documentary:

This genre tends to be lyrical rather than didactic, poetic rather than polemical, and often includes the same element over and over again, and usually includes a style of self-awareness, and aesthetics more than that found in illustrative films.

  • Reverse documentary film:

This type uses the self-awareness method, or the self-reflection method, which addresses the acting process itself and often includes the relationship between the director and the spectators, and between the director and the topics that are raised, and an example is an autobiography, in which the director can appear on the screen, Or he speaks with his voice to the audience, as there are some more official reverse films, which focus on the relationship between cinema and the world.

  • Experimental documentary film:

This category does not fit easily with any of the other genres, which include various forms of art such as dance, drawing, photography, sculpture, and other forms, and it can also include elements of fiction.

  • Watch-based documentary:

These films portray the events of spontaneous and free life as they happen on the ground, and often rely on the visual language of story films, which aim to show the continuity of space and time, using several techniques, such as different camera angles, close-up shots, And reverse shots, slant shots and more.

Characteristics of documentaries

The realistic film has many characteristics that distinguish it from other films, including the following:

  • Credibility is the most important feature of documentaries, because it gained viewers' confidence in the past, as it truly represents the existing conditions. Today, people have become more suspicious of the content of films, even documentaries, so these films must always provide reliable information and sources to gain the viewers ’confidence.

  • The documentary reflects real matters, not dramatic or fictional, as it delves into a non-fictional world with real events, issues, conflicts, people, and emotions, so all visual and audio content is based on accuracy.

  • The documentary includes a message and the issue of purposeful, this message is aimed at viewers to pass, it has been used in films documentaries since ancient times as a means to influence the viewers for social change or internal.

  • The documentary film involves less control and control, unlike drama and fiction films, documentaries must be filmed in the real world, for the sake of real events, and the director is often not able to control the event or topic he portrays, nor the circumstances surrounding the event. But this improvisation in documentaries adds a special feature thereto.

  • The documentary film is characterized by flexibility, unlike fictional films, it does not follow a fixed visual and conceptual evidence, it is impossible to predict events or decide how the film will end, and there are fewer rules that must be followed, which makes it more challenging, but at the same time more exciting.

  • The topic of the documentary film is considered a very important matter, and since its purpose is a specific topic, and the surrounding circumstances are not fictional, so the topic is the most important aspect of documentary films, with priority given to it over other aspects.

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