General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Human Rights in Documentary Cinema
Language English
Module lecturer prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Ziółkowski
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Professor
Faculty Faculty of Polish and Classical Philology
Semester 2024/2025 (summer)
Duration 60
USOS code 03-AP-HRDC


  1. The course begins on 3 March 2025
  2. Classes: Mondays, 9:45–11:15 am and 11:30 am – 1 pm
  3. Office hours: Mondays, 8:30–9:30 am
  4. Place: The Theatre Studio in Collegium Maius AMU, 10 Fredry str. (entrance from the library hall, behind the main building, from Kowalczyka lane)


Students are assessed on the base of the following assignments:

  1. active participation in the classes (20% of the grade)
  2. written homework (20% of the grade)
  3. a 20-slide group presentation or a 2,000-word essay written in pairs (40% of the grade)
  4. a written test on subjects discussed during the course (20% of the grade).


  1. 90–100% = 5 / A
  2. 85–89% = 4,5 / B
  3. 75–84% = 4 / C
  4. 70–74% = 3,5 / D
  5. 60–69% = 3 / E
  6. 0–59% = 2 / F (Failed)

Assessment criteria

  1. meeting deadlines
  2. quality of written homework
  3. quality of preparation to consultations
  4. quality of a group presentation (approach to the subject matter, distribution of workload within the group, collaboration with others, language precision, selection of iconography, graphic design)
  5. quality of a pair essay (approach to the subject matter, language precision, writing style, text composition and formatting, respecting word limit).

Module aim (aims)

The course aims to teach how to:

  1. carry out in-depth interdisciplinary studies of contemporary documentary filmmaking on human rights violations
  2. investigate selected cases in their cultural, economic, historical, political, and religious contexts
  3. analyse and interpret creative outputs of leading contemporary documentary cineastes
  4. scrutinise selected problem areas, select cases, critically assess materials related to them, and share findings in the framework of a group presentation or a pair essay.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

English at B2 level (upper intermediate)

Genuine interest in human rights and contemporary film documentararies on their abuses.




Class 1 Introduction to the course (presentation)


Class 2 Guidelines for students’ works (presentation)






Class 3 Challenges of today’s world as represented in Dear Future Children (2021) (discussion)


Class 4 Human rights in historical perspective (lecture with Q&A)






Class 5 Students introduce HR challenges/documentaries from their home contexts (presentation)


Class 6 Students introduce HR challenges/documentaries from their home contexts (presentation)






Class 7 HR documentaries and their ethical dimension (lecture with Q&A)


Class 8 Analysis of the animation film Silence (1998) (workshop)






Class 9 The US civil rights movement as represented in the film I Am Not Your Negro (2016) (lecture with Q&A)


Class 10 The 1965–66 Indonesian mass killings as the background of the film The Act of Killing (2012) (lecture with Q&A)






Class 11 Analysis and interpretation of the film The Act of Killing (2012) (workshop)


Class 12 Forced disappearances and torture after the 1973 military coup in Chile as the background of the film Nostalgia for the Light (2010) (lecture with Q&A)






Class 13 Analysis and interpretation of the film Nostalgia for the Light (2010) (workshop)


Class 14 The 1975–79 Khmer Rouge political and class genocide in Cambodia as the background of the film The Missing Picture (2013) (lecture with Q&A)






Class 15 Analysis and interpretation of the film The Missing Picture (2013) (workshop)


Class 16 Women’s rights violations, including forced marriages, femi(ni)cide, female genital mutilation, and sexual slavery (lecture with Q&A)






Class 17 Analysis and interpretation of the film Sonita (2016) (workshop)


Class 18 War crimes committed during the civil/proxy war in Syria (since 2011) as the background of the film For Sama (2019) (lecture with Q&A)






Class 19 Analysis and interpretation of the film For Sama (2019) (workshop)


Class 20 Violations of migrants' rights as represented in Les Sauteurs (2016) (lecture with Q&A)






Class 23 Self-immolations as vehicles of protest with reference to the film Ask No Questions (2020) (lecture with Q&A)


Class 24 Colonia Dignidad, the German enclave in Chile, as represented in the film Songs of Repression (2020) (lecture with Q&A)






Class 21 A group presentation (workshop)


Class 22 A pair essay (workshop)






Class 25 A group presentation (workshop)


Class 26 A pair essay (workshop)






Class 27 Students’ group presentations (presentation and discussion)


Class 28 Students’ group presentations (presentation and discussion)






Class 29 Students’ pair essays (presentation and discussion)


Class 30 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (workshop), summary, and feedback

Reading list


  1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: or Accessed 2 Feb 2022.
  2. Copley, Jessica. “Modes of Representing the Holocaust: A Discussion of the Use of Animation in Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’ and Orly Yadin and Sylvie Bringas’s “Silence’.” Opticon 1826, issue 9, Autumn 2010, pp. 1–2 and 8–15.
  3. “I Am Not Your Negro: A Discussion Guide.” Influence Film Club, pp. 1–2. Accessed: 26 Jan 2023.
  4. Behlil, Melis. “The Act of Killing: An Interview with Joshua Oppenheimer.” Cineaste, vol. 38, no. 3, 2013, pp. 26–31.
  5. Guest, Haden. “Ad Astra per Aspera: An Interview with Patricio Guzmán.” Cineaste, vol. 36, no. 3, 2011, pp. 20–25.
  6. Boyle, Deidre. “On a Morality of Filming: Conversation with Rithy Panh.” Cineaction, no. 97, 2016, pp. 39–44.
  7. Ball, Anna. “A Conflict of Values: Redirecting Agency in ” Ball, Anna. Forced Migration in the Feminist Imagination: Transcultural Movements. Routledge, 2022, pp. 81–90.
  8. Stevens, Isabel. “Every Minute Was Important.” [Interview with Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts.] Sight and Sound, vol. 29, no. 10, 2019, pp. 35–37.
  9. Aftab, Kaleem. “A New Documentary About African Refugees Was Filmed by a Refugee as He Fled to Europe.” Vice, 27 Feb 2016. Accessed: 26 Jan 2023.
  10. Angela. “Can Images Shape the Future? A Conversation with Director About Bakar Sidibé.” Mecam, 3 Feb 2022, updated 7 Jun 2022. Accessed: 26 Jan 2023.
  11. Ziółkowski, Grzegorz. A Cruel Theatre of Self-Immolations: Suicide Protests by Fire and Their Resonances in Culture, Routledge, 2020, pp. 67–69.
  12. Ziółkowski, Grzegorz. “Documentary Filmmakers Confront Trauma: An Interview with Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner.” Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, vol. 11, no. 3, 2021, pp. 267–282.


  1. Dear Future Children. Directed by Franz Böhm, 2021.
  2. Silence. Directed by Sylvie Bringas and Orly Yadin, 1998.
  3. I Am Not Your Negro. Directed by Raoul Peck, 2016.
  4. The Act of Killing. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, co-dir. Christine Cynn, and Anonymous, 2012.
  5. Nostalgia for the Light. Directed by Patricio Guzmán, 2010.
  6. The Missing Picture. Directed by Rithy Panh, 2013.
  7. Sonita. Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, 2016.
  8. For Sama. Directed by (pseud.) Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, 2019.
  9. Les Sauteurs. Directed by Abou Bakar Sidibé, Moritz Siebert, and Estephan Wagner, 2016.
  10. Ask No Questions. Directed by Jason Loftus and Eric Pedicelli,
  11. Songs of Repression. Directed by Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner, 2020.