The primary aim of the course is to investigate the theories and practices of documentary film in Japan. Spanning the 1920s to the present, we will engage in rigorous examination of the transformations of cinematic forms and contents, and of the social, cultural and political elements bound up with those transformations. We will also juxtapose aspects of Japanese documentary film with global movements, and wider theories of documentary and non-fiction. Each week we will engage with theoretical or analytical readings, through which we will explore: 1) how particular ethics and politics are imbricated in various documentary modes and genres; 2) the specific cases of Japanese documentaries and their styles/techniques; and 3) the way these films and film movements measure them against today’s media regime (and how they can be understood in light of that regime). Last, another thread will look at the various traces of Japanese documentary filmmaking practice that have had an impact on other filmmakers and national cinemas, from works by Chris Marker, Abbas Kiarostami and Wim Wenders to recent independent documentaries in East Asia. To locate such traces in the transnational framework, the final sections of the course will be devoted to China’s new documentary film movement since the 1990s and contemporary Taiwanese documentaries.