Look closely at this still image from a documentary made in the 1960s then discuss in your groups the questions below.

  • What is being shown to the audience in this shot?  Describe everything you see.
  • Why do you think the filmmaker has chosen to include a camera shot showing the crosshairs (the two intersecting lines in the focus of the camera used to target the subject)?
  • To what extent do you agree with the following statement?
    This camera shot is typical of a documentary film and you wouldn’t find it in any other genre of film.


Now watch opening sequence from documentary The Vanishing Street from which this still shot was taken.  As you watch the film, try to spot this shot.  Listen carefully to the soundtrack.


 © All rights reserved BFI; directed by Robert Vas  


You will be familiar with a number of different genres of films, most of which are probably ‘feature films’.

  • How do you expect a feature film to be different from a documentary?
  • In what ways does the director of The Vanishing Street stick to and break documentary filmmaking conventions?

Use this activity sheet to stimulate your discussion and to organise your thinking.