Run by School of Arts, Culture and Language
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Dyfrig Jones
Overall aims and purpose
This module will give students an overview contemporary documentary film. Developments in documentary film history will be explored within a theoretical context, which will enable the students to understand the ways in which documentaries have evolved over time. This module will also look at the work of a number of key documentary film-makers examining their films within the context of documentary theory.
This course will look at the development of documentary film, attempting to place important developments within a theoretical context. The course will begin by looking at the way in which the early pioneers of documentary film emerged in the 1920s, and seek to understand the contributions of John Grierson, Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov, and the relationship between their work.
This will be followed by an examination of the emergence of Direct Cinema and Cinema Verité during the 1960s, and the challenges faced by those attempting to work within observational documentary. The rejection of the purely observational mode of documentary, and the rise of the participatory film-maker will follow, leading on to an examination of reflexive documentaries, the role of dramatisation within documentary film, drama-documentary and docudrama.
The final part of the course will look at the influence of new technology upon documentary film, analysing the influence of both computer generated imagery and animation upon documentary film. Specific attention will be paid to the work of film-makers such as Albert and David Maysles, DA Pennebaker, Nick Broomfield, Molly Dineen, Errol Morris, and Kevin MacDonald among others.
Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows:
- Generally accurate but with omissions and errors.
- Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning.
- Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions.
- Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.
Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways:
- Has originality of exposition with the student's own thinking being readily apparent.
- Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study.
- Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.
Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:
- Good structure and logically developed arguments.
- At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student.
- Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and sound reasoning.
- Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.
Very Good (60%+)
Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:
- Very good structure and logically developed arguments.
- Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student.
- Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning.
- Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.
Identify key milestones in the historical development of documentary media
Critically evaluate both form and content of documentary media artefacts
Identify and describe major developments in the field of documentary media theory
Reflect upon the role of the producer in making documentary films or other documentary media artefacts
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Weekly one-hour long lecture, where the lecturer presents information about documentary film
Weekly hour-long seminar where students discuss documentary film and documentary film theory. Students who choose an in-person presentation as part of their assessment would do this during the seminar sessions.
Private study, during which time students will research the subject, and prepare their assignments
Film screening, approximately two hours each week.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
- The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
- Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
- Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
- The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
- The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
- The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
- The ability to grasp and discuss how films reflect objective or subjective positions in their treatment of their subject matter. (Benchmark statement 5.7 and 5.10)
- The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
- The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
- Skills in the critical reading and analysis of literary and/or musical and/or filmic texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
- Sensitivity to and critical evaluation of key cinematic techniques and the use of cinematic imagery and language. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/uxs-2059.html
A reading list exists in Talis - Understanding Documentary