DOCUMENTARY FILM                                         Steve Lipkin

COM 4410                                                                  217 Sprau Tower

Fall 2007                                                                      387-3153;

                                                                                    Office Hours: TR 8:30-9:30; W 2-3

username:  kubrick

password:  camera


Documentary Film surveys the development of the non-fiction film from the decades of the early 1920's and 1930's to present day.  This survey will focus on four key periods in the development of film as a document or record of twentieth century life:


            a.         Flaherty vs. Grierson:  basic philosophies inherent in

                          film style

            b.         Social theorist documentarians contemporary and subsequent

                          to Grierson

            c.         "Direct" cinema or cinema verite

            d.         Contemporary film/tv documentary styles




            1.         To define and assess the functions of films that serve as                                                  social documents.

            2.         To study the historical development of documentary film.

            3.         To relate documentary film theory and practice in each major                                         period of historical development.

            4.         To assess the mutual influence of TV and film technology on

                        contemporary documentary activity.


TEXTS:            Ellis, Jack, and McLane, B.  A New History of Documentary Film.

                        Nichols, Bill.  Introduction to Documentary




            a.         There will be a mid-term (10/11 - 50 points) and a final exam

                        (12/10—10:15-12:15 pm  -- 100 points)

            b.         Two (2) papers (50 points each) analyzing nonfiction films.  Due dates

                        to be announced.

            c.          In-class writing (5-10 points each) covering readings and discussion

            d.         Attendance.

            e.         This course involves an extensive amount of writing, including the

                        two film analysis papers (average length of 5-7 pages) and two

                        essay examinations.


Because this is a writing intensive course in accordance with the university's baccalaureate-level writing policy, one objective is to improve the quality of your writing.  I expect writing quality (grammar, clarity, organization, spelling, and punctuation) of senior or graduate quality.  The quality of writing will determine the upper limit of any grade assigned to your papers.





Since much of the work of this class is impossible to make up (e.g., film screenings; discussions) your attendance is extremely important.  After one (1) unexcused absence, your final grade will be lowered ten (10) points for

each subsequent unexcused absence.


There will be a sign-in sheet on the stage in front of the room--make sure you initial it when you come in.





The grading scale for this course (both for individual assignments and for your final grades) is based on the following percentages:


                        94-100             A                     70-75               C

                        88- 93              BA                   64-69               DC

                        82- 87              B                      58-63               D

                        76- 81              CB                  






9/6                   Nanook of the North


9/11                 Night Mail


9/13                 Las Hurdes


9/18                 Listen To Britain


9/20                 The River


9/25                 The City


9/27                 Triumph of the Will


10/2                 Prelude to War


10/4                 Memphis Belle


10/9                 Night and Fog


10/11               Midterm


10/16               Thursday’s Children


1018                Point of Order


10/23               Harvest of Shame


10/25               Rosie the Riveter


10/30               Primary




11/8                 Hearts and Minds



11/15               The Thin Blue Line


11/20               TBA (via class ballot)


11/27               TBA




12/6                 TBA




*Tentative:  subject to change