Film and Media Courses

Fall Courses

FMST-100: Gateway to Film and Media Studies (YARZA)

In our Gateway to the program, students encounter film theory and media history. You will learn the basics of what it means to be a Film and Media scholar and how Film and Media has shaped our society across history. Readings and screenings will complement creative assignments in ARTS 181 (Intro to Filmmaking) while written work will given students a chance to reflect on their experience as readers and spectators.

FMST-400: Capstone in Film and Media Studies (SITNEY)

In the Capstone course, senior FMST students will engage with key ideas and texts in Film and Media Studies through close critical reading and creative theorizing.  Together, we will revisit aspects of your learning in the Gateway course and Introduction to Filmmaking, retracing your intellectual genealogies, identifying and returning to questions and approaches that have been important to you.  You will develop signature, culminating projects in workshop formats, regularly pitching ideas, providing and receiving feedback, and refining and developing your ideas.  By the end of the fall term, you will have engaged important critical questions in Film and Media Studies, connected questions and learning from your FMST curriculum, developed proposals for final projects, and planned effectively to carry out your capstone work in the spring 2016 semester.  Your learning in FMST-400 will continue in FMST-401 in the spring and will conclude with your final presentation of and reflection on your capstone work.

FMST-355: Documentary Film: History and Theory (Sitney)

Documentary Film: History & Theory will examine the history and development of documentary film from the proto-ethnographic cinema of Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North) to cutting edge documentaries screened at the 2011 Silverdocs International Film Festival. Through screenings, readings, and discussion, the course will consider questions of truth, creative representations of reality, methods of filmmaking, and the unique development of genres within the large umbrella of documentary film. The first half of the course will concentrate on the historical development of socially conscious documentaries, political and war propaganda, the evocation of cities, and experimental documentary filmmaking. The latter part of the course will focus on a series of subgenres: direct cinema and cinéma vérité, the first-person and activist film, the rise of the documentary celebrity and blockbuster (Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock), and culminating in recent hybrid forms and transmedia storytelling (Ari Folman’s Waltzing with Bashir and Clio Barnard’s The Arbor).

FMST-230: Intro to Global Cinema (Sitney)

This course will examine the history and theory of global cinema since the Second World War, through the rise of the European art cinema movement of the 1960s and ’70s. It will encompass the growth of Asian cinemas, the consequences of digital filmmaking, and conclude with the more recent transnational blockbusters of today. It will survey major cinematic movements, and their responses to the social, political, economic, technological, and cultural conditions and values that precipitated them. All of the major genres will be represented: comedy, drama, documentary, and experimental film.

Spring Courses

FMST-399: Social Justice Documentary (Cook)

Social Justice Documentary takes up three intersecting bodies of knowledge:

  • Documentary Filmmaking techniques and practices
  • Film and Media Studies scholarship
  • Social Justice Theory and the practices of Community Based Organizations in Washington, DC

The course will enable students to collaborate with members of DC-based Community Organizations in order to create documentary video projects and learn about non-fiction video as a tool for social action.

Students in Social Justice Documentary will work in small teams to produce short documentary videos about social justice issues as related to the work of Washington, DC-based Community Organizations.  At the end of the course students should be able to define, summarize, and interpret documentary theories; have a working knowledge of pre-production, production, and post-production processes that are part of making a documentary video; and be able to formulate and demonstrate ways through which documentary video can be used to meet social justice ends. In addition, students will have gained experience in working as members of video production team—as successful video production heavily depends on cooperation, collaboration, and respect among team members.  This is a 4-credit course and will require substantial time outside of scheduled class meetings. This course will include hands-on workshops on camera, lighting, sound, and editing scheduled in additional to regular course meetings. 

FMST-401: Film and Media Studies Capstone II 

The Capstone is an opportunity for students to explore their own interests in the field of Film and Media Studies. In FMST 401: Film and Media Studies Capstone, students work individually or on groups to actualize their research. The topic and format of the capstone is chosen by the student in FMST 400: Capstone Preparation. Projects may take a number of forms (a scholarly essay, a documentary short, an experimental short, a screenplay, audio documentary, or short narrative film, e.t.c.). All projects must be critically engaging and clearly contextualized in the field of Film and Media Studies. Students who undertake a time-based media project must work in a group (of their choosing) no smaller than 2 and no bigger than 4 members. Students who chose to produce written capstones may work individually. Students may choose any topic and form within the field of Film and Media Studies provided that the student has previous experience with the research area and methodology, for example, someone who has not taken any documentary classes may not make a documentary.

FMST-345: Experimental Media (Sitney)

Since the end of the First World War, artists – poets, painters, sculptors – made non-commercial films to explore the essence of cinematic language. After the Second World War the impetus to make such films migrated to America where an avant-garde cinema continues to flourish. This course will survey the major experimental film movements of the twentieth century, from the European "city symphonies," surrealist visions, and abstract films of the 1920s to the development of the American postwar avant-garde, ending in a discussion of video art from the 1960s to the online viral videos and digital gallery installations of today. It will closely examine the theory, criticism, history, and aesthetics of this alternate film movement. Most of the readings will come from the texts of the filmmakers themselves. Films by Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali, Dziga Vertov, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Andy Warhol, Su Friedrich, Jonas Mekas and Yvonne Rainer will be among those discussed, as we consider the basic theory and purpose of experimental film and video as compared to narrative and documentary formats.

Summer Courses

FMST-210: Development of the Motion Picture (Scahill)

This course is an introduction to film history which explores the evolution of cinema technology, the development of film as business, several artistic film movements, the growth of genres, and the work of major filmmakers in both the US and abroad, including Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese.

FMST-356-01 Cutting Edge in Documentary Film (Sitney)

While non-fiction film has been around since the beginning of cinema itself, the past 20 years have yielded a seismic shift in the production, exhibition, utilization, and aesthetic experimentation of documentary cinema, and culminated in a period largely understood as a “golden age” of documentary film. This course will introduce major approaches, techniques, and milestones in documentary filmmaking from the last 20 years and their aesthetic, social, and political implications. The course will be comprised of feature-length film screenings (including some works fresh off the festival circuit), lectures and class discussions, as well as guest presentations from some of the filmmakers whose work will be presented in class.