Ethnographic and Documentary Cinema

Subject 107-429 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour screening and a 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in cinema studies.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Assoc Prof Jeanette Hoorn
Subject Overview:

This subject investigates the place of documentary and ethnographic film in contemporary film theory. Students should become familiar with the postmodern debate surrounding documentary film-making and realism, and the critique of ethnographic cinema as linked to nationalism and imperialism. The films of French, British, American and Australian ethnographers are taken up, with classic works such as F W Murnau's and Flaherty's Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) among those studied. Recent films which are critical of ethnography and the ethnographic gaze such as Marlon Fuentes's Bontoc Eulogy (1996) are considered. The use of ethnography for entertainment as well as surveillance is examined through popular movies such as The Gods Must be Crazy. Students should develop a knowledge of the four classic modes of documentary cinema, namely the Griersonian, 'cinema verite', direct interview and self-reflexive modes; of the relationship between documentary and ethnographic cinema; and of the colonial propaganda film.

Assessment: A 5000 word research essay 100% (due during the examination period).Assessment submitted late without an approved formal extension will be penalised at 2% per day. Students who fail to submit up to 2-weeks after the final due date without a formal extension and/or special consideration will receive a fail grade for the piece of assessment.
Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts:

Information Not Available

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be skilled in research;

  • possess advanced skills of critical thinking and analysis;

  • possess an ability to communicate knowledge intelligibly, economically and effectively;

  • have an understanding of social, ethical and cultural context.

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts (Honours)(Media and Communications)
Master of Arts (Global Journalism)
Master of Arts (Global Media Communication)
Master of Cinema Management
Master of Global Media Communication
Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (Cinema Studies)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Cinema Studies)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Media and Communication)

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