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A documentary film is a kind of film whose main aim is to intermediate with and document reality. By filming reality, a documentary film differs from a classical motion picture. It employs special filming techniques: filming with a hand-held „free camera“, a hidden camera, contact sound recording, improvised reactions to the stream of events used by other film genres as well, to augment the impression of authenticity. At times, documentaries become means of propaganda or manipulation, but, they are mostly important testimonies, manifests or a kind of investigatory work.

The word “documentary film” was used for the first time, for this kind of movie, in a review of the movie “Moana”, written by John Grierson”. The term appeared on February 8, 1926. In the late 1930s, John Grierson wrote the essay “The First Principles of the Documentary”, explaining why “Moana” has a documentary value. His definition of a documentary is that it is a” creative treatment of reality”. This definition is partially accepted. It provoked a philosophical question of whether a documentary can contain acting scenes? On the other hand, Dziga Vertov advocated the presentation of “life as it is”, i.e. filming without set-up scenes, and the life actually surprised by camera.