themes

Documentaries

Documentaries

“Life caught unawares”—that’s how Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov expressed the principle and art of documentary in the 1930s. But the documentary has taken so many forms over the past century that it would be oversimplifying to call it merely the recording of reality. From its anthropological origins in the works of Robert Flaherty, the documentary has come to encompass Soviet and fascist propaganda of the thirties; the Direct Cinema and cinema verité of the sixties; the populist social-reform tradition of today; and so much more. What all great documentaries have in common is the ability to capture a place and time so vividly as to equal the imagery and storytelling of the best fiction.