128 | CCN: 31687
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. We will examine the major modes of documentary filmmaking including cinema verité, direct cinema, investigative documentary, ethnographic 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. 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. We will ask: 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? Our goal is to travel the porous borders of a genre that promises reality by way of representation and objective truth by way of subjective perspective?
Format: lectures and screenings. A number of screenings will take place at the Pacific Film Archive on Tuesday nights at 7pm often with filmmakers in attendance. We will have several visiting filmmakers during the course of the semester that may shift our lecture/screening schedule. You are required to attend all of these sessions.