UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2017

128 | CCN: 15173

Documentary Film

Linda Williams,

4 Units

This course surveys the history, theory and practice of the documentary, aka “non-fiction,” film and video. We will explore the term and examine the ways its forms and ethics have changed since the beginning of cinema. We will begin by asking what the “documentary voice” of a given film is and examine the major modes of documentary filmmaking including cinema verité, direct cinema, investigative documentary, ethnographic film, documentary re-enactment, autobiography and the personal essay as well as recent post-modern forms that question relationships between fact and fiction. Through formal analysis, we will examine the "reality effects" of these works focusing on their narrative structures and the ways in which they make meaning. Through this, we explore some of the theoretical questions that constantly surround this most philosophical of film genres: How do these films shape notions of truth, reality and point of view? What are the ethics and politics of representation and who speaks for whom when we watch a documentary?