Documentary film

A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record. Such films were originally shot on film stock—the only medium available—but now include video and digital productions that can be either direct-to-video, made into a TV show or released for screening in cinemas. "Documentary" has been described as a "filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception" that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries.

Defining documentary

In popular myth, the word documentary was coined by Scottish documentarian John Grierson in his review of Robert Flaherty's film Moana (1926), published in the New York Sun on 8 February 1926, written by "The Moviegoer" (a pen name for Grierson).

Grierson's principles of documentary were that cinema's potential for observing life could be exploited in a new art form; that the "original" actor and "original" scene are better guides than their fiction counterparts to interpreting the modern world; and that materials "thus taken from the raw" can be more real than the acted article. In this regard, Grierson's definition of documentary as "creative treatment of actuality" has gained some acceptance, with this position at variance with Soviet film-maker Dziga Vertov's provocation to present "life as it is" (that is, life filmed surreptitiously) and "life caught unawares" (life provoked or surprised by the camera).

Latest News for: Political documentaries


Mackenzie Phillips and Rob Reiner say Norman Lear was like family, offering ‘open arms’ and ‘love’

The Los Angeles Times 09 Dec 2023
But for Reiner, Lear’s biggest influence was his political advocacy ... He did it with not just ‘All in the Family’ but ‘Maude’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ and ‘Good Times.'” Reiner, who is producing a documentary about Christian Nationalism called “God and Country,” said he remains committed to carrying on Lear’s political and creative legacy....

Rob Reiner Takes on Christian Nationalism Threat in ‘God & Country’ Trailer

The Hollywood Reporter 08 Dec 2023
Rob Reiner has shared the first trailer for his upcoming documentary taking on the rise of Christian nationalism ... politics. At the same time, the documentary seems to strive to make a distinction between the positive aspects of Christianity and the political-fueled variety....

Tomorrow's Freedom: Documenting 'Palestine's Nelson Mandela'

The New Arab 08 Dec 2023
With such supportive sentiment towards Barghouti across Palestinian political movements, organisations and its people, the documentary details the hope that one day he could win the presidency of the Palestinian Authority and finally be released to carry out his revolutionary mandate....


Enid News & Eagle 07 Dec 2023
As a founding member of Impact Partners, an organization dedicated to funding independent documentary storytelling, Swartz has played a ... These documentary films enable Swartz to expand her social and political care, viewing our earth as a sanctuary to be healed and protected....

Best movies of 2023: 'Oppenheimer,' 'Fallen Leaves,' 'May December'

North Shore News 07 Dec 2023
The Associated PressFilm Writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle's picks for the best movies of 2023.. LINDSEY BAHR. 1. “Oppenheimer" ... 2. “The Zone of Interest" ... Glazer’s film is a masterclass in atmosphere ... 3. “Priscilla" ... 4. “Asteroid City" ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... My Political Documentary,” “Past Lives,” “American Fiction,” “Ferrari,” “The Boy and the Heron,” “Asteroid City"....

Best movies of 2023: ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘Fallen Leaves,’ ‘May December’

Wtop 07 Dec 2023
The Associated PressFilm Writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle’s picks for the best movies of 2023. LINDSEY BAHR. 1. “Oppenheimer... 2. “The Zone of Interest” ... Glazer’s film is a masterclass in atmosphere ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... 8 ... 9 ... My Political Documentary,” “Past Lives,” “American Fiction,” “Ferrari,” “The Boy and the Heron,” “Asteroid City”....

Poilievre’s housing crisis video surpasses four million views

True North 06 Dec 2023
Four days after being posted, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s documentary-style video on Canada’s housing crisis has amassed over four million views on X (formerly Twitter) ...It’s very unusual to see a documentary-style video this long,” said Marland....

Norman Lear, sitcom king who changed TV -- and America

Longview News-Journal 06 Dec 2023
He injected the sensitive subjects of race, sexuality, class, inequality and politics like the anti-war movement into his work, breaking the sitcom mold and beaming modern visions of family life into millions of US households ... "What was new was that we were engaging in reality," the famed creator said in the 2016 documentary "Norman Lear....

Brian Eno, Luther Vandross, DEVO, & Lollapalooza Documentaries To Premiere At Sundance 2024

Stereogum 06 Dec 2023
... involved in 1960s world politics. Here are the official descriptions for the documentaries premiering at Sundance....