Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Documentaries, Motion Picture
Sarah R. Stein & Shaun Cashman
Documentary films (and more recently videos) occupy an integral role in journalistic history both here and abroad. The history of documentary films also reflects development of cinematic technology, as technological advances have had a significant impact on both the production and delivery of film. Documentary filmmaking is primarily an act of reporting rather than invention: real people and real events are its subject matter, rather than the imaginary characters and stories of fiction. The word documentary is derived from the Latin docere , which means to teach. Documentary entered the English language even before film to describe a lesson, an admonition, or a warning. The first nonfiction films were given many titles, including actualités, topicals, interest films, educationals, travelogues, and documentaires. The earliest filmmakers, such as Auguste Lumière (1862–1954) and Louis Lumière (1864–1948) in the 1890s, sought to document scientific and cultural phenomena. However, it was primarily through the work ...