This study will explore and examine the theoretical work written about the observational documentary movements that emerged between the late 1950’s and the early 1960’s. Three influential movements occurred in Britain, France and America. Free Cinema in Britain, Vèritè Cinema in France, and Direct Cinema in America. Many conventions overlap between the three movements. However, this study’s aim is to review the origins of each genre, and place them in contexts with the written analysis currently offered. The dissertation’s conclusion will also attempt to compare the three, and look for similarities and differences that shape each movement into individual styles. There has not been a great amount of research conducted on the genre of observational documentary; as a result a degree of confusion surrounds the subject. Due to the similarities, there is a tendency to refer to all three genres within this study as one collective movement. This study will offer a textual analysis of key documentaries that will be used to discuss the genres strengths and conventions.