More than a doc program

Northwestern offers...

At Northwestern, we approach documentary media in innovative ways.

Cross-departmental interaction and collaborations among faculty and students offer fertile ground for inspiration and expression. Our school is at the forefront for new and original work rooted in documentary strategies, from our world-renowned theatre and performance studies programs to inventive interdepartmental collaborations such as Regina Taylor’s The State(s) of America project. The ability to pursue research is also supported by a large collection of source documents, artwork, and audio/visual material housed at the university's libraries and the Block Museum of Art.

Northwestern is a place where you’ll find that formal innovation and interactions across disciplines are the norm, where Medill journalists apply multimedia storytelling to reportage, and where playwrights such as Rebecca Gilman (whose internationally produced work is often based on real events) teach docudrama as a theatrical form. Our own department’s film students learn animation, infographics, interactive narrative, and computer coding techniques as well as traditional narrative and documentary film practices to discover their own methodology, to realize their own stories, and to find their own voice. All of this is in addition to Northwestern’s strong record of liberal arts education, a solid foundation for any mediamaker’s practice.

Chicago has...

  • A diverse and vibrant community with a long and rich history of documentary media practice and exhibition
  • Kartemquin Films, whose acclaimed productions of Chicago-focused documentaries have included Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters
  • A rich academic and critical culture focused on documentary media through the work of scholars such as Michael Rabiger and Northwestern’s Screen Cultures program
  • Second City and a community of improv theatres—Chicago being the birthplace of American improvisational theatre, which built on the work of Viola Spolin and interjected “actuality” back into performance
  • Year-round screening series of documentaries at the Gene Siskel Center, the University of Chicago's Doc Films, and Northwestern’s Block Cinema
  • An inexhaustible number of resources for those interested in producing documentary media, making it one of North America's major documentary hubs

"There’s an active documentary community in Chicago, and the city itself and all the different neighborhoods provide a community both of filmmakers and of subjects… The interdisciplinary nature of Northwestern is really key. The ability to study outside a particular department and see those connections is really invaluable."

Judy Hoffman (GC98), documentary filmmaker; professor, University of Chicago Department of Cinema and Media Studies; board of directors, Kartemquin Films

 

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