Spring 2009

Topics in Film Study: Political Documentary: Theory and Production

Listed in: English, as ENGL-84


Lalit Vachani (Section 02)


THE POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY: THEORY AND PRODUCTION. The course combines theoretical/analytical approaches to the political documentary film with a production component where students will research, develop, film, edit, and exhibit their own political documentary short films. This theory/analysis component of the course explores the forms and practices of the contemporary international political documentary film. What makes a film a “political documentary”–is it the subject of the film, the political ideology of the filmmaker, the distinctive form or style of filmmaking, or the context of its production and reception? We will address these debates through an intensive engagement with diverse political documentaries from different parts of the world. Some of the filmmakers whose work the course might showcase include: Robert Drew, Fred Wiseman, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Alex Gibney, Nina Davenport, Chris Marker, Avi Mograbi, Viktor Kossakovsky, Jean Rouch, and Anand Patwardhan. The aim of the theory/analysis component of the course is designed to give students an overview of the different modes of political documentary production, and to enable them to develop a preferred form or stylistic approach for making their own short political documentary films. For the production component, students will research and develop their own political documentary projects drawing from themes and subjects in the Five College area. Class discussions will focus on the different stages of the film-making process, from research and pre-production, to the filming, editing, and final post-production. Students will also be expected to attend technical workshops and training sessions on the use of digital video camera, sound, and editing. Limited to 12 students. Offered once Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Vachani.