Problems with Documentary Definitions

Of course in this unit – spectatorship is at the heart of our discussions. You need to understand the genre, but you also need to understand the appeal of the genre and the problems that the genre raises for the spectator.

Task 1

Discuss  –

  • Why do audiences watch films?
  • Why do they watch documentary films?
  • What does an audience seek from a documentary film?

Task 2

Documentary maker presence/ Audience relationship with the film-maker

The presence of lack of presence from the film maker themselves can make a significant difference to the spectator experience and reading of the film.

Discuss to what degree the documentary maker is a presence within the documentary you have watched. What is the impact of this on this spectator?

Task 3

Reflect on the following issues in relation to your documentary:

  1. To what degree is the spectator guided (you might even say manipulated) by narrator or filmic technique (micro) to adopt a particular intellectual or emotional response to the subject matter?
  2. What is the agenda of the documentary film maker?
    1. Do we trust them?
    2. Are we presented with the unvarnished truth?
    3. How is the representation of the subject(s) structured for the spectator?
    4. What values or messages (ideology) does the filmmaker seem to have?

Task 4

From your discussions highlight some of the problems for a spectator with Documentary film.

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