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MFCO223 Documentary and Reality Media

The politics and aesthetics of representing reality through documentary, reality television and social media.

This paper is a historical analysis of documentary film in conjunction with contemporary reality media, including television and the internet. It will trace the technical and social transformations of documentary and reality media practice from the development of hand-held cameras and synchronous sound to digital imaging, remediation and transmedia participation. The paper will also explore the ethical, ideological and philosophical implications of different approaches to documenting reality. Assessments will involve both critical and creative projects with documentary practices.

Paper title Documentary and Reality Media
Paper code MFCO223
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $886.35
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,766.35

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54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
A basic understanding of film and media analysis
Teaching staff
Convenor and Lecturer: Dr Kevin Fisher and Dr Rosemary Overell
Paper Structure
Topics include:
  • Definitions and modalities of documentary
  • Documentary movements
  • Televised documentary and the rise of reality media
  • Reality media and the internet
  • Concept test: 20%
  • Critical essay: 30%
  • Creative project: 20%
  • Final exam: 30%
Course readings on Blackboard
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Communicate effectively in written, visual and verbal form regarding documentary theory and practice.
  • Critically evaluate arguments and positions regarding the functions and effects of documentary and reality media.
  • Demonstrate a cultural understanding of the expression of identity and difference (ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation) through documentary and reality media, with an emphasis on the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Grasp the ethical issues embedded in the various modes of documentary and reality media practice.
  • Demonstrate environmental and general information literacy regarding claims around the presentation of factual data on issues such as climate change and social justice within documentary and reality media.

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Film Screening

Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 10:00-12:50 9-16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 9-16, 18-22
Wednesday 09:00-09:50 9-16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-19, 21-22
A2 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-19, 21-22