LS 819:  Contemporary Documentary Cinema in Historical Context

Spring 2016  | Christopher Pavsek

Course Outline:

This course will explore some recent trends in documentary from primarily North America and situate them in the historical context of documentary film. The course will be organized thematically. We will screen contemporary documentaries paired with films from documentary's past to help understand the diferrences and similarities that exist between genres as well as the particular effects and impacts of different genres on a particular theme. For example, we might discuss the form of the archival and found footage documentary by comparing Jason Osder's Let the Fire Burn (2013) with Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica's Videograms of a Revolution (1992). Or we might place Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's Leviathan (2012) in conversation with Grierson and Antsey's Granton Trawler (1934) and Grierson's The Drifters (1929), all films about life on fishing boats. Or we might watch Dennis O'Rourke's Cannibal Tours(1988) in conjuction with Louis Psihoyos' Racing Extinction (2015). Other films to be discussed may include, but will not be restricted to, works by: Sarah Polley, Alanis Obamsawin, Michael Moore, Joshua Oppenheimer and others.

Note: Screenings subject to change. Please note that some sessions may last longer than normal to accommodate screening of the films

Course Readings:

Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary ISBN: 978-0-253-22260-2)

Recommended Texts: The Documentary Film Reader (ed. Jonathan Kahana, Oxford UP, 2015). This text will be made available on reserve as well.