Test Your Knowledge on Direct Cinema with Our Quiz!



9 Questions

What is direct cinema?

What made direct cinema possible?

What is pilottone sync-sound?

What was the purpose of direct cinema?

What was the social and political context in which direct cinema emerged in Quebec?

Who founded Drew Associates, a company that experimented with technology in direct cinema?

What is the difference between direct cinema and cinéma vérité?

What did the NFB pioneers of the form prefer to call their work instead of cinéma vérité?

What is an example of a direct cinema documentary?


Direct Cinema: A Style of Documentary Filmmaking

  • Direct cinema is a documentary genre that originated in North America and was developed in France by Jean Rouch, employing lightweight portable filming equipment, hand-held cameras and live, synchronous sound.
  • The advent of lightweight cameras allowed hand-held camera and more intimacy in the filmmaking, which was further improved with the use of pilottone sync-sound and the 1961 Nagra III.
  • Direct cinema emerged from a desire to compare common opinion with reality, to show how things really are outside the studio, far from the editorial control of the establishment.
  • Direct cinema had more to do with ethical considerations in documentary filmmaking than with technology.
  • The movement began in two North American societies that were in social and ideological mutation, French Canada (Quebec) and the United States, before spreading to South America and France.
  • In Quebec, direct cinema began in 1958 at the National Film Board of Canada, at the dawning of the Quiet Revolution, a period of intense social and political change.
  • In the United States, Robert Drew founded Drew Associates, which included Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker, Terence Macartney-Filgate, and Albert and David Maysles, and started experimenting with technology, syncing camera and sound with the parts of a watch.
  • Cinéma vérité has many resemblances to direct cinema, but direct cinema has been seen as more strictly observational.
  • The NFB pioneers of the form, Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault, and others, preferred "Cinéma Direct" over cinéma vérité to describe their work.
  • Examples of direct cinema documentaries are Primary, Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, Salesman, and Grey Gardens.
  • Direct cinema techniques were also incorporated into a number of key fiction films of the period, such as The Cat in the Bag (Le Chat dans le sac) (1964) and La vie heureuse de Léopold Z (1965).
  • Direct cinema and cinéma vérité rely on the power of editing to give shape, structure and meaning to the material recorded.


Think you know everything about documentary filmmaking? Test your knowledge on the direct cinema style with our quiz! From its origins to its techniques, learn about the pioneers of this observational genre and the impact it had on the world of cinema. Explore famous direct cinema documentaries and find out how it differs from cinéma vérité. Take this quiz and become a direct cinema expert!

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