Ethnographic and Documentary Cinema

Subject 107-429 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour screening and a 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 4 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 10 hours per week.
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:

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.
  • have a broad knowledge of ethnographic and documentary cinema from its inception to the contemporary period;
  • have a detailed knowledge of the theoretical debates surrounding ethnographic and documentary film making and its reception.
Assessment: A 5000 word research essay 100% (due during the examination period).
Prescribed Texts:
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 Cinema Management
Master of Global Media Communication
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Media and Communication)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Cinema Studies
Cinema Studies
Cinema Studies

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