THE DOCUMENTARY IDEA Comm  Studies 645  Fall 2009
Prof. Kindem; Office hrs.: 11:00-12:00 MW Rm 315 Bingham Hall  962-4960

Course Purposes and Objectives:
 1)To survey significant historical developments in documentary film and video; 2) to examine contemporary documentary approaches and issues; and 3) to perform historical and critical research upon documentary films and videos.

Required Readings:
 Ellis, Jack C., and McLane, Betsy A, A New History of Documentary Film, London & New York: Continuum, 2005
 Rosenthal, Alan, ed., New Challenges for Documentary, 2nd edition, University of Manchester Press, 2005, & University of California Press, 1987 (On Library Reserve.
 Nichols, Bill, Introduction to Documentary, Indiana University Press, 2001.
 Nichols, Bill, Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary, Indiana University Press, 1991.
 (On Library Reserve) Nichols, Bill, ed., Movies and Methods Vol. II, University of California Press, 1985, “Roger & Me” File, and Nichols, Bill, Blurred Boundaries, IU Press, 1994.

Requirements (due dates; grade %):
     Grades are calculated on a numerical ten point scale (92.5+=A, etc.)  Papers are
     late after 9:10 am on Mon. Dec. 2 and drop 10 points & 10 more pts. every 24 hrs. thereafter
 A midterm examination (Oct 21; 25%)
 A (8-10 pp double-spaced) research paper (Dec 2; 30%)
 A (10 minute) oral summary of research findings and class participation (20%)
 A final examination (Dec. 11; 25%)

Schedule:
Aug  26  Introduction
Documentary History
         31 Early History of Nonfiction Film: Actualities: “Lumiere films”; Newsreels; "Image of an Assassination"; YouTube
Sep    2  Early Ethnographic Documentary: Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North”; "In the Land of the Headhunters"; "At the Time of Whaling," "Jesus Camp"
          9  Soviet Social Realism; “Potemkin” “Man with a Movie Camera”, "Kino Pravda",  "Suite Habana"
         14 Avant Garde Documentary: “Rain,” “Ballet Mechanique,” “Un Chien Andalou,” "Las Hurdes," “Berlin, Symphony of a City,” and “Rien Que Les Heures”, "Koyannasqatsi"
         16 British & German Government Docs: “Song of Ceylon,” “Housing Problems,” “Night Mail,” “Triumph of the Will,” “Listen to Britain,” "Death of the Dinosaurs"
         21 American Newsreel Compilation Documentary: “March of Time”, "60 Minutes," "Why We Fight" (Jarecki)
         23 American Government Documentary: “The River” and “Why We Fight”(Capra), "Why Vietnam?"
         28 Postwar Documentary: “The Quiet One;” “City of Gold;” “Night & Fog”: "Into the Arms of Strangers"
         30 American Television Documentary: “Harvest of Shame”; "New Harvest, Old Shame"
Oct    5  Cinema Verite and Direct Cinema: “Primary” and “Jean Rouch”; "Supersize Me"; "The War Room", "Journeys With George"
          7  British Free Cinema and Pseudo-Verite Television Documentary: “Everyday Except Christmas,” “We are the Lambeth Boys,”  “Culloden,” & “The War Game”, "Blair Witch Project"
         12 Beyond Verite: “Vietnam, In the Year of the Pig”; "Fog of War"
         14  Questioning Truth and Mixing Modes: “Thin Blue Line”
         19  “Thin Blue Line” (continued); Review
         21  MIDTERM EXAMINATION
Documentary Approaches and Issues
         26  Expository Documentary: “The Panama Deception”
         28  Observational Documentary: “Streetwise”
Nov   2   Interactive Documentary: “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”
          4   Reflexive Documentary: “Daughter Rite” & “Reassemblage”
          9  Narrative in Documentary: “Roses in December” and “Salvador”
         11  Feminist Observational Documentary: “Soldier Girls”
         16  Feminist Expository and Interactive Documentary: “Coal Mining Women”  and “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter”
         18  Ethics, Modes, and [Re-] Enactments:  “No Lies”, "Borat"
         23  Ethics II: Public’s right to know versus person’s right to privacy; “In Search of Our Fathers”
         30  “Sherman’s March" & "Bright Leaves"
Dec    2  Ethics III: Manipulative History; “Roger & Me”; RESEARCH PAPER DUE
          7 “Roger & Me” continued "Bowling for Columbine," "Ferenheit 911," and "Sicko"
          9  Postmodernism and Documentary; Review
         11 FINAL EXAMINATION  8:00 A.M..

THE DOCUMENTARY IDEA Comm  Studies 645  Fall 2006
Required Readings:
 Ellis, Jack C. & McLane, Betsy A., A New History of Documentary Film, London & New York: Continuum, 2005
 Rosenthal, Alan, ed., New Challenges for Documentary,   2nd  Edition, Manchester University Press,  2005 (Rosenthal I) & ( On Libary Rerserve) New Challenges for Documentary, University of California Press, 1987 (Rosenthal II).
 Nichols, Bill, Introduction to Documentary, Indiana University Press, 2001 (Nichols I) & Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary, Indiana University Press, 1991.  (Nichols II)
 (On Library Reserve) Nichols, Bill, ed., Movies and Methods Vol. II, University of California Press, 1985.  (Nichols III), “Roger & Me” File, and Nichols, Bill, Blurred Boundaries, Indiana University Press, 1994 (Nichols IV).
Recommended Reading
 Grant, Barry Keith & Sloniowski, Jeannette, Documenting the Documentary, Wayne State University Press, 1998.

Schedule: Ellis                 Rosenthal I & [II]      Nichols I &[II]   Library Reserve: Nichols III, IV & [Grant]
 Aug 26  1-6                                                         xi-xviii;20-41                     [11-22]
         31  6-11                                                           82-87
  Sep  2 12-26                       [210-226]                                                        [23-39]
          9  27-43                                                                                               [40-69]
         14 44-56                                                                                               [70-82]
         16 57-76;105-129                                                                          [83-118; 154-170]
         21 77-80
         23 80-104;130-147                                                                             [119-135]
         28 148-178               79-93;[133-147]
         30 179-195      48-58; 267-279;[345-357;375-388]
Oct    5  208-227          280-326;[34-47;389-401]                                 [188-203; 223-253]
         7  196-207                110-120;[592-603]                                     [171-187; 360-378]
        12 227-257                       [165-179]                                             233-258; 274-287
        14 258-339                          59-78                                                      [379-396]
        19
        21
        26                              17-33;[48-63]           99-109;[32-38]                  258-273
        28                                                              109-115;[38-44]
Nov  2                                                               115-124;[44-56]
         4                               34-47;[64-77]          125-130;[56-75]                 359-369
         9                                                                  1-19;[229-266]
        11                                 [554-570]              42-81;139-177
        16                                  [78-102]
        18               209-219; 230-241;[332-341]       [76-103]                       [318-332]
        23               181-208;[245-287; 308-318]
        30                                                                                                         [333-343]
Dec   2                                363-434                                                       “Roger & Me” File
         7                                 253-266                                                           [397-445]
         9                                 121-127                 130-138                             Nichols IV

RESEARCH PAPER AND ORAL PRESENTATION GUIDELINES
The Documentary Idea

Your typewritten 8-10 page, double-spaced critical/research paper is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, December 2, 2009.

You should select a paper topic in consultation with your instructor that requires you to view and critically analyze at least three documentaries, no more than one of which should be listed on the syllabus to be screened in class, in terms of their stylistic approaches (or modes), content, and the histocial contexts of their production and reception.  You should perform extensive library research into the social and historical contexts within which these films were produced, disseminated, and viewed.  Your approach to your topic can be primarily theoretical/critical rather than historical, but it should include some aspects of both perspectives.

For example, you might select several documentaries relevant to a specific historical development, such as cinema verite or direct cinema during the 1960s.  On the other hand, you might select several documentaries relevant to a specific (theoretical/critical) mode or approach, such as interactive or observational documentary.  A paper focusing upon direct cinema might be primarily historical in approach, but it should also make some reference to relevant theoretical/critical concepts such as observational cinema.  A paper focusing upon observational cinema might be primarily theoretical/critical in approach, but it should also make some reference to relevant historical developments, such as direct cinema.

Adopting a historical approach, you might select several documentaries produced by the same individual or production unit and then examine their development over time in terms of similarities and differences in their stylistic approaches or modes of documentary, content, and the socio-historical contexts of their production and distribution.  On the other hand, you might select several documentaries produced within the same historical period by different individuals or production units which reflect similarities (as well as differences) in stylisitic approach, ethical issues, and/or theoretical ideas.  Individual filmmakers and production units might include Robert Flaherty, Richard Leacock, Leni Riefenstahl, Ross McElwee, Emile de Antonio, Errol Morris, Michael Moore, Barbara Trent, Trinh T. Minh-ha, the British General Post Office (GPO), and/or the National Film Board of Canada.   Rather than focusing upon one of these filmmakers or production units, you might select documentaries by several of them and/or others that are relevant to a specific historical development or a theoretical/critical concept, such as cinema verite, direct cinema, historical compilation, newsreel, city symphony, ethnographic, expository, observational, interactive, reflexive, feminist, postmodernist, or autobiographical documentary films.

ORAL PRESENTATION OF PRELIMINARY RESEARCH FINDINGS

Prepare a ten-minute oral summary of your preliminary research findings to be presented by you on the class date at which an “in-class” film/video which might be analyzed in your paper will be screened, but do not select and analyze more than one film/video which appears on the syllabus.  You may screen a very short clip from one of the other films analyzed in your paper during your oral presentation.