HRTS 3298-002: (Variable Topics) Social Documentary in Theory & Practice

Instructor: Catherine Masud

This is a special opportunity to learn from an internationally award-winning filmmaker. The small Honors course is intended for those of you who are interested in creating documentary films as part of your scholarly and/or creative work. 

This course will be of special interest to students with a dual interest in human rights and film studies who would also like to have practical training in documentary film production. The course aims to open students’ eyes to the tremendous power and possibility of the documentary form as a vehicle of social discourse and change.

The first half of this course will examine the documentary from a historical, ethical, and aesthetic perspective to provide a theoretical grounding for students, with a particular focus on documentaries that address social and political themes. Some of the topics to be addressed include the evolution of the documentary genre, the modes and models of documentary, the rhetorical, narrative, and poetic documentary ‘voice’, and the question of ‘social impact’. Major milestones of the non-fiction genre will be studied along with lesser known short form documentaries that illustrate specific aspects of technique, style, and content. The second half of the course will provide students with a practical framework for discovering their own documentary voice. Students will be guided through the process of pre-production, shooting and editing as they create their own short form documentaries on a social issue of their choice.