This discussion-based course is structured thematically around such topics as representations of the family, subjectivity and selfhood, crime and justice, sexuality, trauma, and war propaganda. We view a wide variety of documentary styles: poetic, ethnographic, direct cinema, government sponsored, social advocacy, rockumentary, mockumentary, pseudo-documentary, and different hybrid forms. These styles and themes are used as springboards to explore larger questions: What is the source of our fascination with the real? How can documentary evoke discourses of truth, realism and authenticity when the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction have become ever more fluid; when digital technology makes possible the absence of any camera or original referent from the "real" world; and when documentarians make use of strategies such as staging, re-enactments, discontinuous editing, or various poetic devices? What are the conventions of documentary film practice, that provide the necessary impression of "authenticity;" when and for what purposes have these conventions been challenged? What is the ethical responsibility of a filmmaker to his/her subjects who are, after all, not actors, but people going about the business of their lives? To understand better the complex nature of representation, we also take into account how context, expectations, institutional supports, viewing communities, cultural frameworks, and historical and social forces (and their interaction) all contribute to the making of meaning in visual images.
|Arts and Humanities||1 course|