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The Documentary Center

For almost 30 years, The Documentary Center at the George Washington University has been committed to teaching documentary film production, to creating non-fiction films, and to encouraging the production of documentary films among emerging and established filmmakers. Inaugurated in 1990, The Documentary Center has been ranked as one of the top ten documentary filmmaking schools in the country and we are one of the few educational centers in the nation that focuses exclusively on non-fiction film. 

Our Pillars of Strength

The Goals of the Documentary Center are to:

  1. TEACH documentary filmmaking principles, methods and techniques.
  2. PRODUCE high quality documentary films for national and international audiences.
  3. PARTNER with GW departments, local arts organizations, nonprofits and other entities to host and sponsor events, seminars and screenings that foster a dialogue about the present and future of documentary film.
  4. STRENGTHEN a community of new and established documentary filmmakers at home and abroad.

The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking

Institute video

There are no other intensive graduate documentary filmmaking programs in the nation like the one here at the George Washington University. The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking is held annually between January and June and leads to a Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking. For close to 30 years, we have been the only institution that offers this accelerated training and education in nonfiction production. Maintaining a standard of excellence found across all of the programs offered by the School of Media and Public Affairs at GW, the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking has been ranked one of the top ten documentary programs in the nation. 





Center and Student Produced Films

Cover for Parables of War

Parables of War

Parables of War explores the intersection of art with the artist and the ways in which art can help bind the wounds of war -- both for the soldiers themselves and for those they left behind.

Cover for Capital Buzz

The Capital Buzz

The Capital Buzz was produced by the 2011 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking. It was awarded the DC Shorts Film Festival Golden Pineapple Award for Outstanding Food-themed Film Award of Excellence and won the Short Documentary Category of the Best Shorts Competition (La Jolla, CA).


The Documentary Center's Role in DC Film

The Documentary Center Students

The Documentary Center regularly hosts and sponsors events, seminars, and screenings of at our Foggy Bottom Campus, conveniently-located downtown D.C.  GW campus venues.

What's Up? Docs! is The Documentary Center's new, curated, monthly Fall and Spring series of feature-length and short documentaries at George Washington University. With What's Up? Docs! we hope to offer casual observers and film aficionados alike an ongoing dialogue that deepens, broadens, and explores documentary a major film form of the 21st Century. Through selected films and post-screening discussions, film scholars, critics, directors, programmers, and noted film essayists will lead the audience in an interactive journey illuminating how the style, function, approach, and modes of creation of documentary films affect their meaning and ultimate impact – both within the world of film and on public discourse.


Our Home in The School of Media and Public Affairs

As the only school of its kind in the capital of politics and media, The School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) brings Washington into the classroom. Students engage with the world around them through internships and access to decision makers, community leaders, and power brokers. SMPA also contains a wide array of state-of-the-art production and broadcast facilities. With a top notch broadcast studio, dozens of video editing and computing stations, a flash student for radio and television production, and 24/7 access to professional equipment, our students gain a full understanding of what it takes to create and distribute the finest audio/ visual productions. Take a virtual tour of the Media and Public Affairs building. 

SMPA is a part of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.