Documentary storytelling: a toolbox for working on non-fiction narratives

deadline for submissions: 
October 28, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
GIRES-Global Institute for Research Education & Scholarship
contact email: 

International Workshop 

The Idea
The emergence of new platforms, the dynamics of these production processes, as well as the rise that the gaze towards the real has taken in recent times have given place to a growingly widespread phenomenology of this audiovisual genre. Much has been said about the resurgence of documentary film in the digital age and created a space for discussion and exploration. The democratization of the media has made it easy, in pragmatic terms, to film a documentary with a limited amount of means and resources, which has augmented its production volume and circulation on the internet and other spaces. However, quantity does not necessarily mean quality: many works, despite of approaching interesting themes, do not fully meet the objectives set, nor do they do justice to their dramatic potential. 

The Aim
This workshop aims to provide participants with fundamental knowledge to understand the formal architecture of the documentary film, willing to help them improving their professional practices. Our theoretical-practical approach will guide you through the de-construction of a documentary through various  exercises.

The Outcome

  • Understand with a higher level of clarity documentary film narrative.
  • Apply theoretical tools for writing documentary film proposals 
  • Analyzing the craft of making a documentary 
  • Gain the basic knowledge of how to create your own documentary 
  • Explaining fundamental issues about documentary film theory
  • Identifying or conceptualizing the thematic background of a documentary  
  • Analyzing or putting together narrative elements within a documentary film structure
  • Differencing the different typologies of documentaries
  • Evaluating the communicative/expressive dimensions of a documentary
  • Writing a documentary film proposal

The Program

Thematic 1 (Sunday-November 1, 2020)

Defining documentary film. Debating about objectivity and subjectivity. Differences from fiction and documentary films. The issue of representing reality. Contemporary polemics about documentary film. Is it necessary a script for doing a documentary? What are the ties from documentary film creation and researching? How to address the conceptual approach for a documentary film?  2×1.5-hour courses

Thematic 2 (Sunday-November 8, 2020)

Possible morphologies. Narrative devices and agents. Working out with social actors. Handling dramaturgical conflict. The progression on documentary films. Structure forms and paradigms. Rhetorical strategies. The use of tropes. The narrative thread and the argumentative lines. Relating images and sounds. The communicative and expressive dimensions of documentary film. 2×1.5-hour courses

Thematic 3 (Sunday-November 15, 2020)

 Debating about form and content. Bill Nichols representation modalities. The forms of documentary film: direct cinema, testimonial documentary, self-referential documentary, experimental documentary, the docudrama and the reenactment into the documentary, animation documentary. 2×1.5-hour courses

Thematic 4 (Sunday-November 22, 2020)

The Project folder. Concept, functions and relevance. Constitutive elements (objectives, audience, duration, typology, format/ justification/ Intention letters/ ways for presenting the story: synopsis, argument, outline, prospective script/aesthetical treatment/ state of development). 2×1.5-hour courses

Due to the restrictions of Corona Crisis our event (for the time being) will take place virtually