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AU Professor Offers Short Introduction to Documentary Film, Lists 100 "Must-See" Docs

Contact: Maggie Barrett, AU Media Relations, barrett@american.edu or 202-885-5951

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 3, 2007)- Patricia Aufderheide, a professor at American University's School of Communication, has authored a short, but thorough, introduction to documentary film in her new book, "Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction" (Oxford University Press, Dec. 2007).

The book explores the diverse paths of documentary history and chronicles the debates among filmmakers and scholars about the best ways to represent reality in film. Subjects covered include the definition, purpose, forms and founders of documentary film. Subgenres discussed include public affairs films, government propaganda - such as the works produced during World War II - as well as historical and nature films.

Included in the book is a list of 100 documentaries that Aufderheide and other documentary film experts agree are "must-see" for anyone seriously interested in the genre.

Aufderheide is director of the School of Communication's Center for Social Media, which analyzes and showcases independent social documentaries for social justice, civil society and democracy. Focusing on independent and international work, Aufderheide is an award-winning film and video critic who has served on the jury for the Sundance Film Festival. She has also served on the film advisory board of the National Gallery of Art, as well as on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service, an organization that produces innovative television programming for underserved audiences. Aufderheide is on the board of directors of Kartemquin Films, a leading independent social documentary production company. She has received numerous scholarly awards, including a career achievement award in 2006 from the International Documentary Association. Her current projects focus on social documentary and intellectual property.

American University's Center for Social Media showcases and analyzes strategies to use media as creative tools for public knowledge and action. It focuses on social documentaries for civil society and democracy, and on the public media environment that supports them. The Center is part of AU's School of Communication, a laboratory for professional education, communication research and innovative production across the fields of journalism, film and media arts, and public communication.