Fall 2019 - CA 237 E100

Selected Topics in Film and Video Studies (3)

Issues in Contemporary Documentary

Class Number: 10554

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1600, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 9, 2019
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Joseph Clark
    Office: GCA 3540
    Office Hours: Thursdays 3-5:00pm
  • Prerequisites:

    3 units in film studies (CA (or FPA) 135, 136, 137, 186, 235, 236, 335, 337, 436) or 30 units.



This course will cover a specific topic within the field of film and video studies not covered in depth in regularly scheduled courses. The course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught. Breadth-Humanities.


Issues in Contemporary Documentary

The last 10 years has been called a “golden age” for documentary filmmaking with festivals, streaming services and even traditional distributors providing new platforms and increased budgets for documentarians to reach larger audiences than ever before. At the same time documentary filmmakers have pushed the form in new directions – challenging definitions of non-fiction film and the boundaries of the medium itself.

In this course we will look at a broad range of contemporary documentary works in order to revisit the basic question: “What is Documentary?” By looking at new work in hybrid documentary, animation, slow cinema, essay film, found footage, interactive documentary, etc, students will understand the breadth of documentary practice today, think through the theoretical and ethical questions posed by this new work, and examine the challenges and rewards of programming such works for the public.


  • Weekly Film Journal 10%
  • Midterm Exam 20%
  • Documentary Programming Assignment 30%
  • Final Essay 30%
  • Participation 10%



All required readings will be available on Canvas

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html