Course Description

GE3106 | Documentary & Everyday Urban Life

City planners and architects are not the only people who create the urban landscape. The city is also transformed by the everyday ways people use the city. People like urban recyclers, dishwashers, taxi drivers, cooks, dockworkers, karaoke singers, fishermen, domestic ‘helpers’, bankers, and bartenders, also play a part in how we understand the city and how it works. In this course, students will learn about often-invisible everyday urban processes and practices that make up life in the city through documentary video, creative arts, anthropology, and urban studies.

We are often lost in the digital world of cell phones and laptops, and we forget there is a fascinating real world all around us. This course aims to deepen students’ awareness of the social, political and cultural processes of the city’s everyday life through an interdisciplinary approach. Students will develop critical thinking and research skills, creating interactive digital projects in various neighbourhoods of Hong Kong, connecting analysis with daily life experiences.

Because there are two sections of the class running on the same day, I will show different films for each class. If you would like to sit in to watch the other film, you are welcome, space permitting.

09:00 – 11:50 AC2-3614
15:00 – 17:50 AC1-Y5-204

You can find the course readings here. The main text we will use is available electronically from the library:

Álvarez, Iván Villarmea. 2015.  Documenting Cityscapes: Urban Change in Contemporary Non-Fiction Film. London, New York : Wallflower Press.

Course Outline

September 2/15 Introduction: Non-fiction filmmaking and the City
  • Films: Dark Days, Marc Singer / Urbanized, Gary Hustwit
September 9/15  Space, Places, images and meaning– The city under seige
September 23/15  Field Trip #1: Pok Fu Lam – Wah Fu Estate – Waterfall bay
September 30/15  Urban Self Portraits
October 7/15 Presentations

**Assignment #1 due**

October 14/15  Field Visit # 2: Chungking mansions

Meet at Exit A1, street Level, Tsim Sha Tsui MTR

October 28/15  Landscaping
November 4/15  Field Trip #3: Wan Chai
November 11/15  Metafilm 
November 18/15 Work & Neighbouhoods
  • Films: St-Henri, the 26th of August, Shannon Walsh/ A St-henri, le 5 september, Hubert Aquin / The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, Chad Friedrichs
November 25/15  Presentations

**Assignment #2 due**

December 2/15 Cinema and Social Change in the City
  • Reading: TBA
  • Films: The Interrupters, Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz / Wasteland, Lucy Walker & Karen Harley



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