This distinction is important when you come to discuss Observational Mode where you lump Cinema Verite and Direct Cinema together. Actually the classic Cinema Verite documentar is Chronicle of a Summer by Jean Rouch and that film is really very very purposefully reflexive and not at all observational in the sense that Direct Cinema is.
I also think there are some better examples out there, for example Chris Marker Sans Soleel for Poetic is a much more classic example, but sadly many of them are quite old so this blog has done well to find some more contemporary examples. Young people in general, don't want to watch old films.
The main problem with Nichols though is that pretty much most documentaries will exhibit a range of his modes and consequently pretty much all documentary would be considered hybrid by Nichols. Plus you could argue endlessly is Sans Soleil poetic or performed. Is Man With a Movie Camera poetic or reflexive. As I say, its a good starting point but actually theoretically it doesn't stack up.
I am sorry for the director because I respect the job done, and I saw the film hoping that it will give me a "ouf" of relief...It was not. Never loose the step of "writing" because this film is the exact example of a scriptless project. The excuse of a "fragile" movie...more sensorial than narrative...you can do something sensorial with some depth.
We live in a very special world right now. We have the chance to change everything, and we have all the equipment for that... but it's a challenge, more than ever now, to be creative and never loose the depth. Where is the depth ? It's a film on it's time: a copy of a copy of a copy...