Documentary Forms – Documentary Cinema
125 001 | CCN: 29109
Location: Dwinelle 142
Date and Time: TU, TH 11:00am - 12:29pm
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, travel film and sensory ethnography, 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 the “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 authenticity? What are the ethics and politics of representation? What do documentaries make visible or conceal? How do they put places on the move around the globe? How does sound design add to the sensory experience of documentary cinema? Who speaks for whom when we watch a documentary? What, if anything, constitutes objectivity? And, by the way, just what is a document anyway?
The course will dovetail with “Documentary Voices,” a series of screenings at the PFA, which will present new work in documentary cinema along with special events and conversations.
Fulfills Breadth Requirement in Arts & Literature and Social & Behavioral Sciences. 4 units. Taught in English.