Documentary Cinema – “Documentary Cinemas”
184 001 | CCN: 32303
Location: Dwinelle 188
Date and Time: TU, TH 9:30am - 10:59am
This course surveys the history, theory and practice of the genre called documentary cinema in a transnational horizon. We will explore what this amorphous and vague term means and examine the ways its forms and ethics have changed from the beginning of cinema to recent digital production and online exhibition. Major modes of documentary filmmaking will be covered, including cinema verité, direct cinema, investigative documentary, ethnographic and travel film, agit-prop and activist media, autobiography and the personal essay as well as recent post-modern forms that question relationships between fact and fiction such as docudrama, archival film, and “mockumentary.” Through formal analysis, we will examine the “reality effects” of these works, focusing on narrative structures, visual style, and audience address. We will ask: How do these films shape notions of truth, reality, and point of view? What are the ethics and politics of representation? Who speaks for whom when we watch a documentary? Who stages whom for whom and to what end? What do documentaries make visible or conceal? What, if anything, constitutes objectivity? And by the way, just what is a document anyway?