The Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship

Raymond Watkins


My project involves the use of technology in USSY 285: The Documentary Impulse. This SAGES course, which will be taught for the first time in Spring 2009, is structured around an historical overview of documentary film from 1920 to the present, and will be similar to the English 368c/468c Topics in Film: World Cinema course I taught in the Spring of 2007. The course will begin with Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North (1922), and will then focus on a different documentary style and form each week, from the lyrical city symphony films of the late 20s and early 30s (Jean Vigo, On the Subject of Nice, 1930), to avant-garde experiment (Dziga Vertov, The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929), to cinéma vérité (Rouch and Marin, Confessions of a Summer, 1955) and its effects on the French New Wave (Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless, 1959). Other styles will include direct cinema (Drew and Pennebaker, Primary, 1960), the improvisational theatrics of John Cassavetes, the use of time-lapse photography toward a pure poetics (Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi, 1982), and, finally, the mocumentary (Bob Roberts, 1992). The course will also emphasize the importance of ideology, political bias, and feigned efforts to capture the “real” through the work of Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will,1935; Olympia, 1938), and 1970’s examples of Third Cinema in Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina. Each student in The Documentary Impulse will be required to create one five-minute video using a particular documentary mode examined in class, paying attention to ideology, narrative structure, transitions, sound, and video editing techniques. The final project will use either found stills, or newly shot filmed images, and will include a sound track either from the Freedman Center’s archives, or of the student’s own creation.

  • Freedman Fellows 2011 Announced
  • Freedman Fellows Program 2011
  • Freedman Center Fellow Program 2010
  • Freedman Fellows 2009 Announced

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