Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Documentary Film

ENGL 291.401
TR 12-1:30 and Screenings T 5-7:30

Documentary Film will introduce students to the theory, history and ethics of the film genre corrupted by “reality television”. We will explore such recent, thought provoking documentaries as “Bowling for Columbine” and “Spellbound” as well as documentaries that influenced and inspired those films.We will explore numerous issues confronted by documentary filmmakers by viewing representative films and discussing the issues each poses. These issues--includingre-enactment, fair treatment of the subjects, politics and ethics--have confronted documentarians since the beginning of cinema. The themes we are studying are particularly timely against a backdrop of recent questioning of just how far members of the media can go and what they can do to get their “stories”. Among the filmmakers to be considered are Robert Flaherty, Leni Riefenstahl, Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin. Alain Resnais, Fred Wiseman, the Maysles brothers, Emile de Antonio, Haskell Wexler, Errol Morris. Barbara Kopple and Michael Moore. Weekly screenings are mandatory.

fulfills requirements