Documenting Myths


This course employs documentary film as a way of exploring how ideas of truth, representation, and knowledge are related.

What are the conventions of documentary filmmaking, and how do these contribute to (or detract from) its ability to represent reality? Can creativity coexist alongside the proper presentation of reality? Is documentary only capable of presenting a particular perspective? And if documentary always represents the world from a particular perspective, what does this mean for the kind of truths it can present to us? Do films that comment on the representation of reality (rather than attempting to merely represent reality) through the use of satire, creative reenactments, animation, or other means truly qualify as documentary? Can the documentary filmmaker truly collaborate with their participants? What can documentary tell us about the world, our knowledge of it, and our place in it?

This is a class on aesthetics and documentary epistemology. The primary argument of the course is that truth is not dissociable from the aesthetic/formal methods used to present it. This is why, throughout the term, students take short workshops (taught by me) on narrative, editing, camerawork, and sound. Through these workshops students gain both a theoretical understanding of, as well as a basic technical background in, filmmaking. Students then create a specific type of documentary on the topic of their choosing, the results of which are shared and critiqued in class.

Taught at

  • Vanier College in Montreal, QC (2017)
  • John Abbott College in Montreal, QC (2018, 2019)