An Investigation into the Portrayal or Truth Within the Documentary Genre

An Investigation into the Portrayal or Truth Within the Documentary Genre

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As documentary by its very nature introduces itself as factual, concerns exist as to where the boundary between the truth of subject and the fiction produced by its creator emerges. As anything that has been edited has by definition removed certain aspects and enhanced others, there must be at best an innocent naturally occurring bias formed from individual perception, and at worst purposefully manipulated misinformation. Through researching various sources, I intend to discover the difference (if any) between these two methods making factually based programmes, to determine any variables that lie in the ‘grey area’ between the two extremes, and to ascertain the diverse forms of conduct in which truth (and in turn documentary) can be presented to an audience, and to what effect?
This report aims to make light of certain elements of documentary making that are perhaps more susceptible to influence on the director’s part, and once again explore the effect of these decisions on the audience’s reaction to the information presented.

Corner, J. ed., 1986. Documentary and the mass media. Suffolk: Richard Clay ltd
This book contains, amongst other things, an insightful account into the foundations of documentary, in particular its British base and its early days via the medium of radio. It features quotations and journal extracts, as well as interviews with some of the prominent figures of early documentary programming during the first half of the 20th century, before leading into the mass observation experiments beginning in the late 30’s. The book describes the documentary format’s departure from its BBC London base under the guidance of Hilda Matheson and Charles Siepmann, who relocated their mobile recording units to what was kn...


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... a documentary film by definition must include visuals, but Ames aspires to explain how an emphasis on certain imagery can be used to persuade as well as inform.



Works Cited
Corner, J. ed., 1986. Documentary and the mass media. Suffolk: Richard Clay ltd
Davies, N. 2008. Flat Earth News. London: Random House Publishing
Control Room, 2004. [Film] Directed by Jehane Noujaim. Iraq: World Cinema ltd.
Waltz with Bashir, 2008. [Film] Directed by Ari Folman. Israel: Artificial eye.
Tompkins, C., 2009. The paradoxical effect of the documentary in Walter Salles’s “Central do Brasil”. Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature 33 no1 p9-27
Zeitgeist, 2007. [Film] Directed by Peter Joseph. USA: Released via Internet. Available at http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com. [accessed 14/03/2010]
Ames, E,. 2009 Herzog, Landscape and Documentary. Cinema Journal v. 48 no. 2 p46-69.

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