Arts & Entertainment

Film 101: Understanding Performative Documentary Mode

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Jun 28, 2021 • 2 min read

There are six different modes of documentary, each with their own style and filmmaking characteristics. American film critic Bill Nichols defined these documentaries as expository mode, participatory mode, observational mode, performative mode, poetic mode, and reflexive mode. Documentary filmmakers use the performative mode to create an entertaining and informative piece about a person, place, event, or thing.