Documenting Our World: A History of Nonfiction Film
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Course Number: NFLM 3405
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
Since 1895, when Thomas Edison filmed his friend Fred Ott's sneeze, there has been intense interest in the ability of motion picture cameras to document our world. Filmmakers have recorded events around them, whether a sneeze or a major historical event, in hopes of gaining a more profound understanding of themselves and their environment. This drive, combined with developments in thought and technology, resulted in what we now call documentary or nonfiction film. This course is an exploration of the history of documentary film from the Lumière brothers to Michael Moore, examining landmark works and presenting various movements, styles, and notions of "truth." This survey equips students with the tools needed to navigate the increasingly complex world of audiovisual information that many unquestioningly accept as truth.