John Grierson

John Grieson (right)
Robert Flaherty

Robert Flaherty

What is a documentary?

A documentary is a non-fictional film or video that records an aspect of reality for historic reasons or instructional purposes.

There are literally thousands upon thousands of documentaries on the Internet. Many of these were created by professionals but there are thousands created by amateurs or semi-professional.

The word documentary when referring to film and video is thought to originate from a review written by John Grieson of Robert Flaherty’s film Moana in the New York Sun on 8 February 1926.

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