Filmmaker as Magician: The Unique Documentaries of Errol Morris

Ever since his first documentary made Werner Herzog eat his shoe Errol Morris has been creating exceptional portraits of one-of-a-kind subjects. Join documentarian Ward Serrill for this exploration into the career arc of Morris' doc-altering cinematic oeuvre including his rare and short films, commercial ads, and Academy Award-nominated films.

"After twenty years of reviewing films, I haven't found another filmmaker who intrigues me more...Errol Morris is like a magician, and as great a filmmaker as Hitchcock or Fellini."  - Roger Ebert

Morris' films have won many awards, including an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, an Emmy, the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, the Silver Bear at Berlin International Film Festival, the Golden Horse at the Taiwan International Film Festival and the Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America.  His documentaries have repeatedly appeared on many ten best lists and have been honored by the National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review.  His work has been the subject of a full retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1999.  

Class Specifics
Unfortunately this class was cancelled due to low enrollment. We hope to offer the class again in the future.


January 25: Stranger than Fiction
This week we look at Errol Morris' early years, the films that started it all, Gates of Heaven (1978); Vernon Florida (1981); plus one that invented a style, The Thin Blue Line (1988).

February 1: Morris as War Journalist/Prosecutor
This week we explore Morris' groundbreaking films such as Academy Award winner, Fog of War (2003); Standard Operating Procedure (2008); and The Unknown Known (2013).  

February 8: Morris as Comedian: Shorts, Ads, and Other Laughs
This week we will watch many of Morris' classic commercial ads, his lessor know short films and his understated humor on screen in such films as Tabloid (2010).

Class Workload
We will be showing excerpts from each of the films mentioned. Registrants are expected to be familiar with Errol Morris' filmography, preferably having watched the films before the class begins. All films listed in the Weekly Class Breakdown are largely available streaming and web services. There are no required readings but suggested readings may be emailed in advance of specific classes.

About the Instructor
Ward Serrill is an award-winning director of The Heart of the Game, released by Miramax to wide critical acclaim. Ebert and Roeper called it "An Oscar level piece of work." He has created more than 90 short films including Building One House with Robert Redford and Wild America with Sissy Spacek. He produced 50 short films for Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions on education reform and Something in the Water, a documentary on Seattle's music scene for PBS.

His most recent film, Song of the New Earth, is in worldwide release. His short documentary, Catching Fire about inventor/activist Peter Scott is on the festival circuit. TreeStory focusing on humanity's relationship to trees is currently in production. He teaches advanced non-fiction film at Cornish College of the Arts. Learn more about Ward's life and films at Woody Creek Pictures.