Evolution of Documentary Film Making
The early films of the 1900s were single shots captured in a film. These short films were popular as “actuality” films; the term “documentary” was not coined until 1926. One of the most legendary first films ever made is ‘A Train Arrives at Ciotat Station’, produced by the Lumiere brothers best known for their Cinématographe motion picture system during the 1890s.
Documentary filmmaking came to light in Russia, in the 1920s with a young poet and film editor Kino-eye Dziga Vertov’s newsreels during the Russian Revolution. During the years 1939-1945, government-sponsored documentaries focused on filming the consequences of massive warfare.Post-1950s technology led to new advancements in documentary filmmaking beginning with great innovations like the Eclair self-blimped camera and solutions provided by Ricky Leacock and Robert Drew group.
History of Indian Documentaries
The first recorded documentary film in India dates back to 1888. Filmmakers D.G Tendulkar and K.S Hirelekar studied studio motion pictures and culture films internationally respectively. They brought the latest concepts of documentary film and laid the foundation of the documentary movement in India in the 1930s. The Films Division was formed in April 1948, they regularly distributed newsreels and documentaries dubbed in five languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Telegu. It eventually became one of the most significant sources of public information, and it tried to reach out to people in the remotest corners of India. Some of the earliest popular documentary films in India include National Film Festival award winner S.N.S. Sastry's I Am 20, Fali Bilimoria's The House That Ananda Built which was nominated for Academy Awards in 1968, Sukhdev's National Film Award Winner India 1967, and M.F. Husain's Through the Eyes of a Painter that won at the Berlin and Melbourn International Film Festivals.
The Art of Storytelling in Documentaries
A key component that may either make or break a documentary's effect is the skill of storytelling. It requires picking the correct story to tell and creating a compelling narrative that holds the audience's attention from start to finish. To direct the storytelling choices and guarantee a coherent narrative, a central topic should be established. Relatable characters and personal tales can establish an emotional connection with the audience, while visual and aural components can provoke feelings and immerse viewers in the story. Delivering accurate information in an interesting and approachable way requires striking a balance between information and enjoyment.
Documentaries as Drivers of Change
They are effective educational and awareness-raising tools that shed light on pressing problems and encourage people to understand them better. Documentaries have the power to question widely held notions, stimulate critical thought, and affect public opinion and policy. For instance, the ground-breaking film Blackfish exposed the mistreatment of orca whales kept in captivity and sparked a public outrage that resulted in changes to legislation. Similar to how Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change to the forefront of international debates, inspiring action and legislative changes. These instances demonstrate the significant social impact that documentaries may have, acting as agents of transformation.