Now, ask them to consider the following list as the four distinct (but sometimes overlapping) purposes of documentary film (as suggested by Michael Renov):
- to record, reveal, or preserve
- to persuade or promote
- to analyze or interrogate
- to express
Can students think of documentary films or television that fit into these categories? How might these different motives intersect? Are there any other purposes that documentary film might seek to fulfil?
This discussion should inform students thinking as they watch the various extracts. Ask students to note down their thoughts on each example: what seems to be the purpose of the film, what different approaches can they identify - use of narration, direct questioning, observational etc. What do they notice about the editing of the extract? How is narrative constructed?
After watching the extracts encourage students to share their ideas with another member of the class before feeding back into a whole group discussion. What do students think are the benefits and limitations of the different approaches they have identified?
Following this discussion, challenge students to re-visit their definition of documentary, written at the start of the lesson. How might they adapt their definition after watching and discussion the clips? Can they argue for their definition in front of the class?