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FTV3710 - Documentary Film: An Australian Focus

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Deane Williams


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


This unit will investigate a range of key issues in documentary and non-fiction film production from the inception of cinema to the present day, with a major focus on Australian documentary. Australian films examined include feminist films, television documentaries, deconstructive 'essay' films, documentary-fiction mix experiments, ethnographic films and films made collectively by minority groups. The theoretical and practical issues discussed in relation to the Australian films will provide a framework for the examination of a number of important phases in the historical development of documentary.


By the completion of this subject students are expected to demonstrate: an understanding of the styles, strategies and structures of documentary film:

  1. a knowledge of the major 'schools' in the international history of documentary film and to employ this knowledge in the examination of recent developments in documentary theory and practice;
  2. an understanding of the various modes of documentary film as they are influenced by technological developments, institutional policy and ideological inflections;
  3. an understanding of the complex relationship between the pro-filmic event, its representation and modes of reception;
  4. an understanding of the meanings and implications of a range of concepts as they inform documentary film theory:these include narrative, rhetoric, realism, mode of address, metaphor and metonymy, and expository form;
  5. an ability to critically engage with written and filmic texts in a clear and confident manner in both written and oral presentation;
  6. a deeper understanding of theoretical debates in the field of documentary film theory


Visual Test (1500 words) : 40%
Essay (3000 words) : 60%

Contact hours

1 x 1-hour lecture, 1 x 1-hour tutorial, 1 x 2 hour screening


VSA2710, VSA3710 and FTV2710