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- Poetic Documentaries
- Expository Documentaries
- Observational Documentaries
- Participatory Documentaries
- Performative Documentaries
Poetic documentaries are very much what they sound like. They focus on experiences, images and showing the audience the world through a different set of eyes. Abstract and loose with narrative, the poetic sub-genre can be very unconventional and experimental in form and content. The ultimate goal is to create a feeling rather than a truth.
Expository documentaries are probably closest to what most people consider “documentaries.” A sharp contrast to poetic, expository documentaries aim to inform and/or persuade — often through omnipresent “Voice of god” narration over footage devoid of ambiguous or poetic rhetoric.
Observational documentaries are exactly what they sound like — they aim to simply observe the world around them.The style attempts to give voice to all sides of an issue by giving audiences first hand access to some of the subject’s most important(and often private) moments.
Participatory documentaries, while having elements of observational and Expository, include the filmmaker within the narrative. This could be as minor as the filmmaker’s voice being heard behind the camera, prodding subjects with questions or cues — all the way to the filmmaker directly influencing the major actions of the narrative.
Performative documentaries are an experimental combination of styles used to stress subject experience and share an emotional response to the world. They often connect personal accounts or experience juxtaposed with larger political or historical issues. He often uses his own personal stories as a way to construct social truths (without having to argue the validity of their experiences).