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The Program

The Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media brings together existing traditions of documentary practice with emerging approaches to create a unique multidisciplinary program. Innovative in structure and approach, the program is the first to offer an MFA degree in documentary media in Canada and is one of a very limited number of such programs offered worldwide.

The program is uniquely multidisciplinary, as it brings together students working in film, photography and new media to explore documentary forms and strategies in the making of new documentary work. Students in the program produce thesis projects exploring compelling subject matter that may take the form of documentary narrative films, print based and interactive photographic books, multi-platform documentaries and gallery-based installations.

Rather than providing a static definition of what documentary is, the program combines studies in documentary production and ideas with explorations in documentary history, the humanities and visual culture to open up possibilities for documentary work created from political, cultural or personal points of view. Students in the program have investigated topics that range from robotics and the limits of human experience to micro-histories of neighbourhoods, investigations of First Nations issues, migration and displacement, environmental issues and contemporary art. Student projects have been undertaken throughout the Americas, as well as in Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The program situates itself in the professional documentary community and is connected to media makers who are shaping the language of documentary media today.  Students in the program connect to the wider community through the annual Doc Now festival, a multimedia festival that showcases the work of the graduating class.

The graduates of the program can be found in diverse occupations including film and television production companies, positions within the creative industries, freelance careers as filmmakers, photographers and new media producers. Other graduates have gone on to further study at the PhD level and careers in the educational field.

The Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media is a full-time, two-year/six-term program that strives to maintain a connection to documentary traditions while encouraging innovative approaches to the making of new documentary works. The program is based in Ryerson University's School of Image Arts. The School is renowned for it’s outstanding programs, faculty and facilities and is an educational leader in the study and production of visual media.


Join us for the next INFORMATION SESSION:   

Tuesday November 3rd, 2015 - 6:30 to 8:30 pm - IMA B23




Moving Still Life, 2015 Karin Culliton

Alumni Showcase:

Karin Culliton

2015 Heart & Soul Volunteer Award, Eva's Initiatives  

Karin Culliton (MFA 2015) has won a Heart & Soul Volunteer Award from Eva’s Initiatives  for her outstanding volunteerism in providing opportunities for youth, donating service hours to Eva’s and advocating on behalf of Eva’s Initiatives. Karin’s film “Moving Still Life” is a documentary about the plight of homeless youth in Toronto and follows several young people’s stories – each in a different stage of the shelter experience – and shows how a connection to the arts can play a positive and dramatic role in helping one to thrive, not just survive.



Consumption Overload, (rendering) 2014, Photo: Michael Kim

Alumni Showcase: Michael Kim

Consumption Overload - 2015 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche


This photo project addresses human impact on the environment. Comprising a body of large-scale photomontages, HD Video and a photographic book assembled from downloaded photographs from the Internet, it presents a range of problems that we face today including air pollution, deforestation and nuclear disasters. These multi-layered photomontages explore the altered landscapes and ecosystems that we inhabit and which we have manipulated for our needs.

The vastness and interconnectedness of our cycles of resource consumption can be difficult to see and fully comprehend, yet the problems they generate are cumulative and are becoming increasingly complex. To consider these multifaceted relationships, Consumption Overload layers together photographs from around the world to represent the tangled global environment that is the real world we inhabit today.

Michael Kim is a Toronto-based visual artist and commercial photographer. Kim holds a MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University.



Between Allah and Me (and Everyone Else), Kyoko Yokama

Alumni Showcase: Kyoko Yokama

Golden Sheaf Award Winner - 2015 Yorkton Film Festival

The work of Documentary Media graduate student Kyoko Yokama has been selected as winner of the Golden Sheaf Award in the Multicultural Category of the Yorkton Film Festival for "Betwen Allah and Me (and Everyone else)"  The film explores the challenges of four Canadian Muslim women making decisions either to start or stop wearing hijab, unveiling many diverse meanings and messages the hijab carries, and its intricate and complex effects on the women, their families and communities, and the larger multicultural society.

Image: Persistence of Vision, Caitlin Durlak

Alumni Showcase: Caitlin Durlak

Doc Media's Caitlin Durlack (MFA 2014) Wins Two Awards in Images Festival for her Thesis Film Persistence of Vision

Toronto's Images Festival showcases the innovative edge of international contemporary media art, exhibiting a wide range of work and disciplines through its ON SCREENOFF SCREEN and LIVE IMAGES programming.

From April 9-18, esteemed Jury members Nicole GingrasAzar Mahmoudian and Doina Popescu considered groundbreaking film screenings, live performances and media-based installations for a slate of awards. We are pleased to announce the award winners of the 28th Images Festival. The recipients of the awards were honoured at Gallery TPW on Saturday April 18, 2015. Congratulations to the 2015 Images Festival Award Winners!

A HUGE thank you to award sponsors, audiences, funders, supporters, community partners and especially artists -- you've all contributed to make Images Festival number 28 a year to remember!

Steam Whistle Homebrew Award
Caitlin Durlak - Persistence of Vision

Sponsored by Steam Whistle Brewing, this award honours excellence and promise in a local artist. The recipient receives $500 and a Steam Whistle Prize Package.

Vtape Award for Best Student Video
Caitlin Durlak - Persistence of Vision (Ryerson University, Toronto)

Sponsored by Vtape, Toronto's video art distributor, this award includes a $500 prize courtesy Vtape and $250 worth of transfer services courtesy of Frame Discreet. The recipient is determined by audience vote.

Caitlin's work will be seen in the Breakthrough Film Festival in June here in Toronto Currently Caitlin is working with fellow Doc Media alumni Ali Weinstien on a feature length documentary, for which they received development funding from Shaw HotDocs and the Super Channel. The documentary is about a subculture of people who dress up as Mermaids:


Student Showcase: Zile Liepins

2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

The work of Documentary Media graduate student Zile Liepins has been selected by Curator Noa Bronstein for a solo exhibition to be held at Ryerson Artspace in the Gladstone Hotel during the 2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. 

In her artist statement, Liepins writes: "No One Says Anything, Everyone Remembers Everything is a multi-media visual essay which examins the tension felt by individuals living in the Baltic States (with a focus on Latvia) as they navigate the transitory political present in their every day lives: emerging from the Soviet Union, looking towards and adapting to Europe, now facing the fear of a new incoming threat from Russia."

Photo Credits:

Header: Larisa Kurzemnieks '13, This Way to the Beach
About: Ben Lenzner '11, This Is Just Batting Practice , A Tale About G.I. Joes, Tomato Boxes, Rivers & Reincarnation, video still
Admissions: Ruth Kaplan '10, Some Kind of Divine 
Doc Now: Ken Woroner's exhibition at the RIC, 2013
Alumi: Zenele Muholi '08, Faces and Phases
Student Projects: Saman Aghvami '14, Home

Watch the Doc Media Video