Choose a Documentary from the Criterion Collection or any pre-2000 doc. Watch it a couple times through and then write a two-page paper on it.
What’s the burning question of the film?
When is the burning question presented?
Is that burning question answered? If so, how? If not, why not?
Is there a strong central character?
What’s at stake for this character in the film?
What about this character makes them compelling?
What are some “telling moments” in the film that reveal something about this character?
What universal themes are at play?
What mode of documentary is it?
From there, what is the modality (or function) of the film?
Is it interview-based? How are those interviews used to progress the story or reveal character?
How are the interviews framed? Lit? What setting is the interviewee in? Why are those choices made?
Are there verité sequences? How are those used to progress the story or reveal character?
Is narration used? How is it used to progress the story or reveal character?
Are there outside visual materials used?
If so, where were these visuals sourced and how do they add to the narrative and emotional connection to the film?
How are still images (if any) treated? Motion? Layering?
What is the soundscape of the film?
Is music used? When? What’s the tone of the music?
Are sound effects or ambient (natural) sounds used? When? To what end?
What challenges do you think the filmmaker(s) faced during production? Preproduction? Postproduction?
Does it seem like access was a challenge?
Is the subject matter visual in nature, or did the filmmakers have to come up with creative solutions for visuals?
How does the time period and available technology impact the possibilities of production?
Did those limitations help or hinder the final result?
Is the film successful?
Is there anything that you would do differently?