Film Studies

The Film Division of the School of the Arts offers courses in film theory, the history of film, documentary film, and writing film criticism. Labs are offered in nonfiction filmmaking and fiction filmmaking.

For questions about specific courses, contact the department:

Departmental Office: 513 Dodge
212-854-2815
Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Web: www.columbia.edu/cu/arts/film

FILM BC3145 Topics in Literature and Film: Memory and Forgetting. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Literature (LIT)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: The Visual and Performing Arts (ART).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Links literature to painting, photography and film, as well as texts in psychology (Freudian trauma theory and recovered memory). We will explore the role of personal and cultural memory in the creative process through key examples from the medieval "memory rooms" to the work of Alain Resnais. Weekly screenings. Also listed as ENGL 3145.

FILM BC3200 Film Production. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: The Visual and Performing Arts (ART).

Prerequisites: FILM BC3201 or equivalent. Sophomore standing. Interested students MUST attend the first day of class for instructor permission--registering for the course only through myBarnard or SSOL will NOT ensure your enrollment.

This workshop introduces the student to all the cinematic tools necessary to produce their own short narrative work.  Using what the student has learned in film studies, we'll break down shot syntax, mise-en-scene and editing strategies and master them in weekly video exercises.  We'll include casting, working with actors and expressive camera work in our process as we build toward a final video project.  By the end of the course, the student will have created a DVD containing a collection of their video pieces and their final project.  Priority given to junior and senior film majors.

Fall 2017: FILM BC3200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 3200 001/07491 W 2:10pm - 5:00pm
118 Reid Barnard
Sandra Luckow 3 10/12
Spring 2018: FILM BC3200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 3200 001/04614 W 2:10pm - 5:00pm
118 Reid Barnard
Sandra Luckow 3 18

FILM BC3201 Introduction to Film and Media Studies. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: The Visual and Performing Arts (ART)., Discussion Section Required

Prerequisites: Open to first-year students.
Corequisites: Enroll in the required Discussion Section through FILM BC 3204: Discussion Section.

Introductory survey of the history, aesthetics and theories of film. Topics in American and International cinema are explored through weekly screenings, readings, discussion, and lecture. A complete introduction to cinema studies, this course is also the prerequisite for further film courses at Columbia and Barnard.

Fall 2017: FILM BC3201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 3201 001/02089 W 12:00pm - 1:50pm
323 Milbank Hall
Christina Kallas 3 40/60
FILM 3201 001/02089 M 6:00pm - 9:00pm
202 Milbank Hall
Christina Kallas 3 40/60

FILM BC3204 Discussion Section. 0 points.

Enrollment in one of the following sections is required when registering for FILM BC 3201: Introduction to Film and Film Theory.

FILM BC3215 Auteur Study: TBA. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: The Visual and Performing Arts (ART).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: FILM BC3201 Introduction to Film or equivalent.

Close examinatin of the oeuvre of a single filmmaker within a larger cinematic, aesthetic and historical context.

FILM BC3220 Topics in Cinema: War and Propaganda. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: The Visual and Performing Arts (ART).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: FILM BC3201 or equivalent. Permission of the instructor required. Enrollment limited to 55 students. Graduate students, seniors and juniors will be given priority.

Examines the changing role of film in dramatizing, promoting and critiquing American participation in the military conflicts over the past 70 years. From the gung-ho patriotism of Howard Hawks's SGT. YORK and the front-line reportage of Lewis Milestone's A WALK IN THE SUN to the ambivalence of John Frankenheimer's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and the calculated cynicism of Barry Levinson's WAG THE DOG, we explore shifting political perspectives and aesthetic strategies.

FILM BC3301 Advanced Production. 3 points.

Prerequisites: FILM BC3201 or equivalent. Sophomore standing. Enrollment limited to 12 students. Attend first class for instructor permission.

Advanced Film Production will teach students how to create a short narrative film; emphasizing the steps taken in pre-production, production and post-production. Through hands-on workshops and theory, students will learn narrative editing, shot progression, camera lenses, lighting and audio equipment. Students will work in teams of four, learning the roles and responsibilities of the different crew members.

FILM Q3900 Senior Seminar in Film Studies. 3 points.

Fee: $30.

A seminar for senior film majors planning to write a research paper in film history/theory/culture. Course content changes yearly.

FILM Q4000 Film and Media Theory. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required
Fee: $50.

Prerequisites: FILM W1000.

An introduction to some of the major texts in film theory, with particular attention to film theory's evolving relations to a number of philosophical issues: the nature of the aesthetic; the relation of symbolic forms to the construction of human subjectivities; narrative and the structure of experience; modernity, technology, popular culture, and the rise of mass political formations; and meaning, intention, and authorship. FILM Q4001

FILM UN2010 Cinema History 1: Beginning-1930. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required

This course rethinks the “birth of cinema” from the vantage of “when old media was new.” Following standard approaches, it moves from actualities to fiction, from the “cinema of attractions” to narrative, from the cinématographe to cinema, from cottage industry to studio system. Units in silent film music, early genres, film piracy and copyright, word and moving image, and restoration—the film archivist’s dilemma in the digital era. FILM W2011

Spring 2018: FILM UN2010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2010 001/13758 T 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Vito Adriaensens 3 23/65
FILM 2010 001/13758 Th 10:10am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Vito Adriaensens 3 23/65

FILM UN2020 Cinema History 2: 1930-60. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required
Priority given to film majors. Fee: $75.

This course examines major developments and debates in the history of cinema between 1930 and 1960, from the consolidation of the classic Hollywood studio system in the early sound era to the articulation of emergent “new waves” and new critical discourses in the late 1950s. Our approach will be interdisciplinary in scope, albeit with an emphasis on social and cultural history – concerned not only with how movies have developed as a form of art and medium of entertainment, but also with cinema’s changing function as a social institution. FILM W2021

Fall 2017: FILM UN2020
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2020 001/76097 M 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Kob Lenfest Center For The Arts
Richard Pena 3 27/55
FILM 2020 001/76097 W 4:10pm - 6:55pm
Kob Lenfest Center For The Arts
Richard Pena 3 27/55

FILM UN2030 Cinema History 3: 1960-90. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required
Priority given to film majors and seniors. Fee: $75.

By closely watching representative classics from countries including Italy, Poland, Russia and Argentina, we will study the distinctive trends and masters of this vibrant era. Special attention will be paid to the French New Wave (60s); the New German Cinema (70s); the reformulation of Hollywood studio filmmaking in the 70s (Altman, Cassavetes, Coppola), and the rise of the independent American cinema (80s). FILM W2031

Fall 2017: FILM UN2030
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2030 001/77747 Th 2:00pm - 5:45pm
511 Dodge Building
Annette Insdorf 3 32/65

FILM UN2040 Cinema History 4: after 1990. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required

This course brings our survey of the development of the art, technology, and industry of motion images up to the present. During this era, most people no longer watched movies (perhaps the most neutral term) in theaters, and digital technology came to dominate every aspect of production, distribution, and exhibition. Highlighted filmmakers include Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier, Wong Kar-wei, and Steve McQueen. Topics range from contemporary horror to animation. Requirements: short (2-3 pages) papers on each film shown for the class and a final, take-home exam. FILM W2041

Spring 2018: FILM UN2040
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2040 001/78030 M 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
Richard Pena 3 52/60
FILM 2040 001/78030 W 4:10pm - 6:55pm
Room TBA
Richard Pena 3 52/60

FILM UN2310 The Documentary Tradition. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required
Film screening, lecture, and discussion. Fee: $75.

Documentary film from the late 1890s to the mid-1980s. Attention focuses on the documentary as a means of either supporting or attacking the status quo, on the relationship between the creators and consumers, on claims to truth and objectivity, and on how new technology influences the oldest form of filmmaking. FILM W2311

Spring 2018: FILM UN2310
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2310 001/24389 M 2:00pm - 5:45pm
Room TBA
Nico Baumbach 3 24/65

FILM UN2410 Laboratory in Writing Film Criticism. 3 points.

Priority is given to film majors.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Non-majors must also submit a writing sample, approximately 3 pages long, to cj2374@columbia.edu.

This course will focus on writing fresh, original, lively criticism, and on creating strong arguments for your ideas. We will screen films from classics to some currently in theaters. We will read, analyze and evaluate critical responses to them considering some crucial questions: How do you approach a new film? How do you approach one that has been written about for decades? Students will write short reviews and longer essays, including first-day reviews of new films and a final paper taking a longer look at a director’s career. Screenings in and outside class will be followed by discussion of critical approaches to the films, and by in-class writing exercises. This course assumes there is no right or wrong in criticism, no single best approach, just stronger or weaker arguments.

Fall 2017: FILM UN2410
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2410 001/86096 M 2:00pm - 5:00pm
403 Dodge Building
Caryn James 3 7/12

FILM UN2420 Laboratory in Screenwriting. 3 points.

Open to film majors only.

Exercises in the writing of film scripts.

Fall 2017: FILM UN2420
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2420 001/87296 Th 10:00am - 1:00pm
512 Dodge Building
Thomas Locke 3 10/12
FILM 2420 002/87597 F 10:00am - 1:00pm
403 Dodge Building
Alies Sluiter 3 11/12
Spring 2018: FILM UN2420
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2420 001/66601 T 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Room TBA
Benjamin Martin 3 12/12
FILM 2420 002/23124 M 10:00am - 1:00pm
Room TBA
Nicholas Singer 3 12/12

FILM UN2510 Laboratory in Fiction Filmmaking. 3 points.

Open to film majors only. Fee: $75.

Exercises in the use of video for fiction shorts.

Fall 2017: FILM UN2510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2510 001/88296 T 10:00am - 1:00pm
512 Dodge Building
Leticia Akel 3 10/12
Spring 2018: FILM UN2510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2510 001/22936 F 10:00am - 1:00pm
Room TBA
Daniel Pfeffer 3 12/12

FILM UN3920 Senior Seminar in Screenwriting. 3 points.

A seminar for senior film majors. Students will complete a step outline and minimum of 30 pages of their project, including revisions. Through reading/viewing and analyzing selected scripts/films, as well as lectures, exercises and weekly critiques, students will expand their understanding of dramatic writing and narrative-making for film and TV, including adaptations. They will learn appropriate structure for each specific screen-writing form, and endeavor to apply their understanding of drama, character, theme, and structure to their chosen narrative project.

Fall 2017: FILM UN3920
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 3920 001/17297 W 10:00am - 1:00pm
512 Dodge Building
Loren-Paul Caplin 3 13/13

FILM UN3925 Narrative Strategies in Screenwriting. 3 points.

Prerequisites: FILM W2420.

This workshop is primarily a continuation of Senior Seminar in Screenwriting. Students will either continue developing the scripts they began in Senior Seminar in Screenwriting, or create new ones including a step outline and a minimum of 30 pages. Emphasis will be placed on character work, structure, theme, and employing dramatic devices. Weekly outlining and script writing, concurrent with script/story presentation and class critiques, will ensure that each student will be guided toward the completion of his or her narrative script project.

Spring 2018: FILM UN3925
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 3925 001/62372 M 10:00am - 1:00pm
Room TBA
Loren-Paul Caplin 3 12/12

FILM W2290 Topics in World Cinema: Arab and Africa. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required

FILM W2291

FILM W2400 Script Analysis. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required
Lecture and discussion. Fee: $50.

The dramatic and cinematic principles of screen storytelling, including dramaturgy, character and plot development, use of camera, staging, casting, sound, editing, and music. Diverse narrative techniques, story patterns, dramatic structures, and artistic and genre forms are discussed, and students do screenwriting exercises. FILM W2401

FILM W2520 Laboratory In Nonfiction Filmmaking. 3 points.

Open to film majors only. Fee: $75.

Exercises in the use of video for documentary shorts.

FILM W3020 Interdisciplinary Studies: History of TV. 3 points.

Discussion Section Required
Fee: $75.Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

A survey of American TV history, with a focus on dramatic narration related to independent cinema. Structured in three acts--from the "Golden Age" of the 1950s to the dramatic complexity found in recent Cable series--it begins with prestigious writers Rod Serling and Paddy Chayefsky; studies groundbreaking mini-series like "Roots" and "Holocaust"; and explores how shows, such as "Hill Street Blues" and "Twin Peaks", laid the groundwork for HBO series, including "Oz", "The Sopranos", "The Wire", and"Six Feet Under". Producing 13-week dramas over the span of years, these programs have developed a sophisticated narrative form, borrowing from, as well as informing, cinematic storytelling. FILM W3021

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.