Theatre 482

THEA 482: Documentary/Nonfiction Film

Prerequisites: THEA 180

Credit Hours: (3)

An overview of documentary/nonfiction film from its primitive beginnings in the shorts of the Lumiere Brothers to an examination of contemporary artists, directions and visions.

Note(s): Student cannot receive credit for both THEA 380 and THEA 482.

Detailed Description of Course

Topical Outline:

1. The early contributions and lasting influence of Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov;
2. John Grierson’s role in defining the documentary/ nonfiction film as a powerful force for social action;
3. The propaganda films of World War II which would utilize the talents of such different artists as John Huston, Frank Capra and Leni Riefenstahl;
4. The influence of Alexandre Astruc’s Caméra-Stylo on the creation of cinéma vérité and the direct cinema movements;
5. The documentary/nonfiction film on television from Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now to Robert Drew’s Closeup!;
6. The ill-formed but influential Free Cinema movement in Britain;
7. Post 1970's documentary film period exemplified in the works of Peter Davis, Emile De Antonio, Barbara Kopple, Saul Landau, Claudia Weill and Haskel Wexler;
8. Contemporary trends and directions in the documentary/nonfiction film.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Class instruction will consist of assigned and assisted viewings, readings, guest and faculty lectures.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. Students will understand what makes a documentary/nonfiction film and the difficulties in defining this type of film.
2. Students will learn about the significant documentary/nonfiction filmmakers and theorists.
3. Students will understand the evolution of, as well as the current trends in, the documentary/nonfiction film.
4. Students will learn about and be exposed to significant works of documentary/nonfiction film.

Assessment Measures

Final grades in this class will be based on examinations, participation and a final project in which the student will examine a topic in the documentary/nonfiction film.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval

September 2005        Review

3/2009            Revision        Carl Lefko

3/2010            Review            Carl Lefko

July 2010