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John Webster: Rooms of Shadow and Light

 John Webster
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  Documentary Film
A document is:
  1. A historical artifact, a product, such as letter, photograph, storage inventory, journal etc. that is used to record an event or a series of events.

  2. A documentary film refers to a film that depicts reality more than a fiction film or a drama.

The people and events on a documentary are real, i.e. the characters portray themselves (or tell about themselves) in events that are happening or have happened. Yet all films are more or less fiction, pieces of composition, and their author's interpretation of the reality.

A documentary film is not the truth and it should not even aim to the one and only truth. Rather, it should open possibilities for interpretation and viewpoints to the period that it is depicting.

Some genres of documentary films

  • Experimental documentary
  • Anthropological and ethnographic documentary
  • Made-to-order production
  • Follow-up documentary
  • Documentary based on archives
  • Cinéma Vérité /Observational Cinema
  • Subjective documentary

Based on the CinemaSense articles and links you can deliberate upon how meaningful (or meaningless) it is to divide films into two main categories: fiction and documentary.


Steps for the Future [www.steps.co.za]
"Many of the best professionals in the international field of documentary filmmaking are collaborating to create a collection of challenging and meaningful documentaries that will resonate throughout the region, and inform the world about life in Southern Africa in the midst of HIV/AIDS."


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