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MFCO410 Documentary Film and Media

Historical development of documentary from dawn of cinema to present trans-media environment; important movements and methods of documentary practice; a range of theoretical and critical perspectives upon contemporary documentary.

This paper will address the history and theory of documentary practice, with specific attention to movements and filmmakers. The focus on documentary movements will encourage students to reflect on the socio-cultural and institutional contexts and philosophies that inform the range of documentary methods. The focus on individual filmmakers will address applied methodology, including the aesthetics and ethics of documentary practice.

Paper title Documentary Film and Media
Paper code MFCO410
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,206.91
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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54 300-level points
Teaching staff
Convenor and lecturer: Dr Kevin Fisher
Paper Structure

Readings will draw from film and media historians and theorists, but also from the writings of documentary practitioners. Weekly screenings for the class will attempt to present the broad range and variation of documentary practices, historical periods and topics.


  • Assignment 1: research proposal and bibliography 10%
  • Assignment 2: in-class research presentation 20%
  • Assignment 3: research essay 40%
  • Take-home exam 30%
Teaching Arrangements
One 180-minute lecture and one 120-minute screening per week.
Course reader or Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Be exposed to the range of methods and topics of research in documentary film and media
  • Explore the socio-cultural, political and educational role of documentary in the contemporary world
  • Be able to develop a research topic and conduct research in a specific area of documentary film and media

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system