What is, and what qualifies as, documentary film?

Documentary film has been around as long as the technology has existed to make filmed pictures move. Reality was the first thing filmmakers made films of. For example, head over to YouTube and search for the Lumière brothers. Fascinating stuff. Then and now.

For another example, check out the first motion picture ever made — a couple of minutes of a horse galloping. We actually learned much about how horses gallop from this project.

I’m leading up to something I want to examine: What is a documentary and what qualifies as a documentary? Not the same questions, really. The first asks for a definition (even if complex). And the second asks us how we justify placing a particular work within some definition of documentary.

I’m planning to attempt answers to both.

“Attempt” indicates that I’m not going to try to sell you on something so much as to allow to read along as I think about it.

Starting soon…

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