restricted access From “First Principles of Documentary” (UK, 1932)

In this first part of his seminal “First Principles of Documentary” (originally published in three parts in three issues of the Edinburgh journal Cinema Quarterly between 1932 and 1934), documentary pioneer John Grierson delineates both the remit of documentary filmmaking and the ethical issues that the genre raises. Underlining his commitment to realism, Grierson celebrates Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (USA, 1922), while dismissing out-of-hand the emergent poetic form of documentary, as exemplified by Walter Ruttmann’s city film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Germany, 1927).