The History of Documentary Film 1

Display Schedule

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
303DDF1 ZK 3 4T Czech winter

Subject guarantor


Name of lecturer(s)


Learning outcomes of the course unit

Study results:

Mode of study

Lectures supplemented by example screenings or entire films.

Prerequisites and co-requisites


Course contents

Course description:

Fundamental study lecture and film screening. During lecture students adopt the most fundamental historiographic line of the development of Czech and World documentary film and view the most essential samples or entire films which represent them.

Topic scope:

  1. Historical presentation framework, development of defintion of documentary film and „non-fiction“, aesthetics and social contexts, constitution of independent disciplines. Examples from the beginning to the 1920s in the West including Avant garde.
  2. Soviet montage school and their attempt to change cinematography at the concept level, aesthetics and materialism theory, anti-narrative and de-dramatization as a new starting-point of cinematography. Esfir Shubova and Dziga Vertov.
  3. Narration and social witnessing USA: Robert Flaherty - early American film.
  4. Synthesis of impulses of the avant garde and social narration: Joris Ivens - comprehensive view.
  5. Regional focus in Czechoslovakia 1918-1939: documentary and institution, documentary and advertisement, documentary and art. Alexander Hackenschmied, Karel Plicka, Jiří Lehovec, Jiří Weiss.
  6. Documentary film and state agenda - new model of institutional practice and constitutional discourse: John Grierson and so called British Documentary School.
  7. Documentary film and institution agendas: USA - from the Photo League to New Deal films.
  8. Documentary film and propaganda - Leni Riefenstahl.
  9. War documentaries as development of war agendas - complex schemes of British productions, examples of large narratives and documentaries: the Soviet Union, USA and Germany.
  10. Post-war topicalization of war experience - examples and discourse on current reviews.
  11. Post-war topicalization of war experience - examples and discourse on review with distance.
  12. Post-war constitiution documentaries in context of artistic cinematography - examples and contexts across territories (outside of Czechoslovakia)

Recommended or required reading

Recommended literature:

BARSAM, Richard Meran. Non-fiction Film: A Critical History. Indiana University Press, 1992. 467 s.

NAVRÁTIL, Antonín. Cesty k pravdě či lži: 70 let československého dokumentárního filmu. 2. vyd., (1. v nakl. AMU). Praha: Akademie múzických umění v Praze, Filmová a televizní fakulta v Nakladatelství AMU, 2002. 285 s. ISBN 80-7331-909-8. - ad historie českého dokumentu do konce 60. let

BARNOUW, Erik. Documentary: A History of the Non-fiction Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 400 s.

NAVRÁTIL, Antonín. Dziga Vertov, revolucionář dokumentárního filmu. Praha: Čs. filmový ústav, 1974. 252 s., [63] s. obr. příl. - ad počátky jednoho z klíčových proudů reinterpretace reality

EPSTEIN, Jean a MAYDL, Přemysl, ed. Poetika obrazů. Překlad Ladislav Šerý. Praha: Herrmann & synové, 1997. 303 s. ISBN 80-238-1138-X. - ad počátky jednoho z klíčových proudů reinterpretace reality

GAUTHIER, Guy. Dokumentární film, jiná kinematografie. 1. vyd. V Praze: Akademie múzických umění, 2004. 507 s. ISBN 80-7331-023-6. - ad historie dokumentu západní provenience a dalších okruhů, teorie

ALLEN, Robert C., GOMER, Douglas. Film History: Theory and Practice. McGraw-Hill Companies, 1985. 276 s.

SZCZEPANIK, Petr, ed. Nová filmová historie: antologie současného myšlení o dějinách kinematografie a audiovizuální kultury. Vyd. 1. Praha: Herrmann & synové, 2004. 528 s., [12] s. obr. příl. ISBN 80-239-4107-0.

Monographs devoted to the works of one artists (found in the library under the term „documentary film“ in the library subject catalog), use also periodical articles.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final test includes an oral exam. Knowledge of the historical-contextual facts, audience experience and ability of contextual interpretation of viewed films. Absence of empirical/audience experience of key films may lead to repeating the text. For this reason emphasis on attendance in class of minimum 70% is required.


This course takes place once every two years. It is scheduled for the 2019-2020 school year.

Further information

This course is an elective for all AMU students

Schedule for winter semester 2019/2020:

room 217
Room No. 217

(Lažanský palác)
(lecture parallel1)
Date Day Time Tutor Location Notes No. of paralel
Wed 14:50–18:05 Vít JANEČEK Room No. 217
Lažanský palác
lecture parallel1

Schedule for summer semester 2019/2020:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans