A documentary film is a non-fictional, motion picture intended to “document reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record”. 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”.Documentary films were originally called “actuality films”, and were one minute, or less, in length. Over time, documentaries have evolved to be longer in length, and to include more categories; some examples being: educational, observational, and docufiction. Documentaries are meant to be informative works, and are often used within schools, as a resource to teach various principles.
Social media platforms, such as YouTube, have provided an avenue for the growth of the documentary film genre. These platforms have increased the distribution area and ease-of-accessibility; thereby, enhancing the ability to educate a larger volume of viewers, and broadening the reach of persons who receive that information.
The documentary genre has radically evolved in recent years and so it’s not a surprise that there may be some confusion about “what exactly is a documentary!”. A documentary is a broad term to describe a non-fiction movie that in some way “documents” or captures reality. Documentaries are often used to reveal an unusual, interesting or unknown angle. Topics are limited only by one’s imagination as you can see by this huge list of documentary ideas submitted by visitors to this site.
Documentary filmmakers are often motivated to make their films because they feel a particular story or viewpoint is not being (adequately) covered by mainstream media.