Dont we too often think that documentaries should have simple narrative plots: a lead character, a conflict and the Aristotelian three-act structure? Doesn’t that easily lead to documentaries that are cheap imitations of fictional movies – minus the big screen?
there are documentaries that are streams of association, where you go from one area of imagination, thought and emotion to another; there are documentaries that peel away like an onion to reveal a central core; there are documentaries that seek answers to intellectual or emotional questions by bombarding you from different angles and levels; there are documentaries where the twists and turns of their progress lead to continual reappraisals that complement one another; and there are documentaries whose power lies in something we cant quite identify or analyse, that works deep in our unconscious selves.
and yet all of them have a story. So what do we understand by the word story? That is the question. (page 81 in the book “Steps by Steps”, see review)