ARTS 643
The Changing Character of the Documentary Film

Lisa Molomot       


Course Summary

This course traces the development of the documentary film from the late Nineteenth Century to the present. The goal of the course is to learn critical thinking skills as they relate to nonfiction film. As students learn about the construct of documentary films, they will be able to question what it is they are actually seeing and critique them in class discussions and papers

Methods of Evaluation
Class participation: 30%
Mid-term paper: 20%
Final paper: 30%
Journal assignments: 20%

Each week students will write a one-page paper on a specific topic about the film viewed outside of class. The mid-term paper will require students to compare two contemporary documentaries, and for a final project, students will write a mock grant proposal for a documentary they wish to produce.

Course Materials
Students are required to purchase Documentary History of the Non-Fiction Film by Erik Barnouw and The Documentary Tradition by Lewis Jacobs. Students will be required to watch films outside of class. All films are on reserve at the Olin Library. Ask for the videos with the call number to specify that it's a video. Please return all DVD's and videos back to the reserve desk. Films are also available at Best Video in Hamden: (203) 287-9286, through Netflix and at your local video store. They have also been digitized and are available by clicking here.
Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all 12 classes. If anyone misses more than 2 classes, they will most likely be unable to pass the course.

Course Schedule
Class 1

Introduction to Nonfiction Film
Modes of Documentary
Workers Emerging From a Factory - Lumiere Brothers

Class 2 Representing Reality and Robert Flaherty
Nanook of the North - Flaherty
Class 3 John Grierson, the father of documentary
Night Mail - John Grierson
Class 4 Avant Garde films of the 30's
The Man with a Movie Camera - Vertov
Class 5 World War II
Triumph of the Will - Riefenstahl
Class 6 Postwar documentary and television
Night and Fog - Resnais
Class 7 Changes in Technology in the 1960's: Cinema Verite and Direct Cinema
Chronicles of a Summer - Rouch
High School - Wiseman
Class 8 Ethics
Grey Gardens - Maysles


Class 9 Documentaries in the 1970's and 80's
The Thin Blue Line - Morris
Roger and Me - Moore
Class 10 Documentaries in the 1990's: PBS, HBO, Independents
3 Act Structure
Fighter - Bar Lev
Class 11 Documentaries Today
The challenges of editing a documentary
IN CLASS: Companeras
Class 12 Guest Speaker
IN CLASS: Printers Inc - Jacob Bricca
On Reserve
1. Workers Emerging From a Factory - Lumiere Brothers
2. Nanook of the North - Flaherty
3. The Man with a Movie Camera - Vertov
4. Rain - Ivens
5. Night Mail - John Grierson
6. Triumph of the Will - Riefenstahl
7. Why We Fight (Series) - Capra
8. Night and Fog - Resnais
9. Chronicles of a Summer - Rouch
10. High School - Wiseman
11. Grey Gardens - Maysles
12. The Thin Blue Line - Morris
13. Roger and Me - Michael Moore
14. Daughter from Danang - Gail Dolgin and Vincente Franco
15. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki
16. Fighter - Bar Lev
17. Blue Vinyl - Judith Helfand
18. Control Room - Jehane Noujaim
19. Spellbound - Jeffrey Blitz
20. Beyond the Border - McGinnis and Palos