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Documentary cinema is not a genre. A documentary film is not, therefore, a deliberate structure based on a pre-existing model. What they do have in common are the materials that these films handle. The documentary film tells of events that have happened or are happening regardless of whether a film is made with them or not. His characters also exist outside the film, before and after the film.
It is this, and only this, that differentiates a documentary film from a fiction film. The fiction film handles materials that only exist in the film, for the film. As much or more difference than between a documentary film and a fiction film, there is between two documentaries, one of which tells events that have happened. There is such a difference between the materials that must be handled in one case and the other, that the strategies, techniques and working methods are radically different.
A documentary that tells something that has happened, works with the remains of that which has happened (long or short) time ago. Consequently, he works with archive material: shots, photos or sounds that belong to that bygone era. You can also work with filmed images, now, of the places where these events took place. And he works with the remains of those events in the memory of the people, that is, with the testimonies of those who know something about what happened long ago.
When a documentary tells, on the contrary, things that are happening, that occur at the same moment in which the filmmaker is filming them, the work is organized according to this characteristic of the material, these events that have not yet occurred, whose eventual characteristics must be foreseen, in order to be able to decide what is going to be filmed (of what is supposed to happen) and in what way.