Self Disclosure: the art of the personal documentary

Course Dates: 11/01/22 - 01/03/22
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
What happens when a filmmaker (or their loved ones) becomes the subject of their own documentary? How do they navigate—and shape—such autobiographical material? What challenges, aesthetic or otherwise, do they face, and how do they overcome them? This online Film Studies course explores the art of the personal documentary and some of its key practitioners, including Orson Welles, Agnès Varda, Martin Scorsese and Mark Cousins.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £79.00

Course Code: HF232

Tue, eve, 11 Jan - 01 Mar '22

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online Film Studies course is about the art of the personal documentary, sometimes referred to as “the essay film”. Such films share qualities and characteristics associated with the literary essay’s accommodating form: searching, reflective, playful, confiding — but above all, “personal”. With a particular focus on family and place, the course explores the work of some of cinema’s most questioning and imaginative filmmakers, while addressing issues of form, storytelling and intimacy. For each of the featured directors has found what seems to be the only way to tell their respective, individual story.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Directors / films include:
- Orson Welles: F for Fake (1973)
- Chantal Akerman: News from home (1977) / Martin Scorsese: Italianamerican (1974)
- Ross McElwee: Sherman’s March (1985)
- Su Friedrich: Sink or Swim (1990)
- Agnès Varda: The Beaches of Agnes (2008),
- Sarah Polley: Stories We Tell (2012)
- Kirsten Johnson: Cameraperson (2016) & Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)
- Mark Cousins: I Am Belfast (2015), The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018), The Story of Looking (2021).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of the “essay film” and its most notable practitioners.
- Identify the myriad connections and influences – aesthetic, thematic – in the films of all the directors featured.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is open to anyone with an interest in cinema, documentaries and film history and for those who enjoy viewing and discussing films and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be delivered in 1hr 30 minute sessions over eight weeks.
Each class will feature a short lecture and film clips followed by an interactive discussion.
There is no work outside of class, though there will be weekly recommendations for further watching or reading around the subject for those that are interested.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs. Bring a pen and paper or tablet / device for note taking.
Links to recommended reading / viewing will be provided.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please see other Film Studies courses on our website at, Culture and Writing/Film Studies.

Mick McAloon

Mick McAloon has 18 years’ experience in cinema exhibition – running cinemas, programming events and film series. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including the books Movie Star Chronicles and 1001 Movies. Previously he was a Visiting Lecturer at Kingston University on the Media & Communications degree.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.