Cinéma vérité

‘Cinéma Vérité Practices set in motion by the legendary trio of documentary founders were profoundly shaken up in the 1960s revolution that was variously called cinema verite’, observational cinema, and direct cinema. This style broke dramatically with then-standard documentary practices of advance planning, scripting, staging, lighting, reenactment, and interviewing. All these traditional approaches had accommodated the limitations of large, heavy 35mm equipment, and they were appropriate to audience expectations of the time.’ (Patricia Aufderheide 2007: 17). Cinéma Vérité was a French film movement in the 60’s. It was all about capturing realism. Rather than following the traditional methods of movie making, film makings recorded separate audio of conversations, interviews, and so fourth and then attempted to film visuals to match the sound. The footage filmed was often very raw, shaky, and authentic. The movement was criticised at times for lacking creativity and artistic flair, at times the films made looked more like news reports then a hit movie. Even though the movement was criticised it progressed priding itself on being realistic and showing us a different method of documentary film making. Cinéma Vérité is also referred to ‘direct cinema’ (‘Cinéma Vérité’ 2016) ultimately the goal was to capture the reality of a person, or an object without preparing it too much before it was shot.

This ‘direct style’ of documentary film making is something I would like to implement into my film ’22 years later’. My methods will not be as drastic as the French film movements but I like the idea of not tampering with the subject prior to shooting and recording certain thoughts and feelings of the participants before filming. This style is also similar to the ‘observational’ (‘6 types of documentary’ 2013) style of film making which is very common today. An example of this style of documentary film making is in ‘War Photographer’ (2001) this is a documentary which follows renowned war photographer James Nachtwey through postwar Kosovo, riots in Jakarta, and the mass graves in Rwanda. (Below is a trailer for the doc)

 I feel these two similar styles will work well with my film ’22 Years later’ because it gives you the opportunity to express your real and untouched emotions. We will aim to execute this style when we follow Yomi and his uncle to the old family house where ‘Afo’ used to live, to the graveyard and also to the place of ‘Afo’s’ death. I think this will be a good opportunity to see how the family react authentically years after the fatal incident took place. We completely realise that this is a very delicate and tender subject to deal with, so we will be taking certain ethical precautions which I will go into detail about in the up coming posts. Apart from the ‘Observational’ and ‘Cinéma Vérité’ styles which are both very lax ways in which to film, I do want to add some more constructed and conventional styles of documentary film making like sit down interviews for example, imagery of certain important motifs, time lapses, and so fourth. I want a balance between both styles. In my previous post I spoke about how we have decided on a theme for the doc which is ‘unnoticed’. Through this notion we will also incorporate an abstract aspect which will run throughout the film, along side our ‘Cinéma Vérité’ layer and the more conventional elements. All three of these styles will work hand in hand to create the structure and the feel of the film. I believe they will compliment each other and make it more interesting for the audience. ‘In this pursuit, a director can take any number of approaches—using experimental techniques, archival footage and photographs, interviews with historians, vérité camerawork, animation and more. There is “no one way to do it,” says Mary Lea Bandy, chief curator of Film and Media Art at New York’s Museum of Modern Art’ (‘Hybrid Reality’2016) This quote from Mary Lea Bandy has encouraged me further to take up hybrid style for the film.

To conclude the French film movement of the 60’s has helped me tot explore different methods of documentary film making. One big criticism I have for the movement in the context of my film is that the style requires you to film a lot of footage which requires time/(data) and good audio in the hope that it will all fall into place. Where as, with conventional methods you are guaranteed a certain of content using less time and data, although you could argue  t probably will not be as authentic. There are many advantages and disadvantages to all of the techniques and this is why I feel the idea of a hybrid of styles will be beneficial for this film. The hope is that we have enough time to shoot the film in which ever way we finally choose. A subject as delicate as this could easily back fire as many may feel uncomfortable with it closer to the shooting date. So now it’s a case of making sure the film all comes together.


Aufderheide, Patricia (2007). Documentary Film. Cary, GB: OUP Oxford. pg 17.

The editors of Britannica. (2016). Cinéma vérité. Available: Last accessed 20th Feb 2016.

Alex Burton. (2009). 6 Types of Documentary. Available: Last accessed 20th Feb 2016.

War Photographer. Switzerland: Christian Frei, 2001. film.

SBS. (2016). Top ten observational documentaries. Available: Last accessed 20th Feb 2016.

CHULEENAN SVETVILAS. (2016). Hybrid Reality: When Documentary and Fiction Breed to Create a Better Truth. Available: Last accessed 20th Feb 2016.


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