Skip to main content

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.

Download Our Brochure >>



We Are Red, Lynne Fox

Student Showcase:

Lynne Fox

2015 Gary Cwitco and Fern Valin Social Justice Award

We Are Red, the powerfully moving work of Documentary Media student Lynne Fox, has been selected for the 2015 Gary Cwitco and Ferm Valin Social Justice Award which is meant to support and highlight a graduate project which furthers the cause of social justice. Lynne writes about her work: "We Are Red is a short documentary film that will explore the Hillsborough disaster from the position of personal trauma. By doing so it is hoped that the twenty-six year fight that the families of the victims have endured is validated by showing the relevancy of the disaster to date and illustrating how the personal is the political. The implications of the Hillsborough disaster extend far beyond the ‘truth’ and the confines of Liverpool or the U.K; police abuse and the power of politics are frequent topics of daily news and relative to debates surrounding the influence of trauma in the aftermath of tragedy."   



Why We Fight, Alyssa Bistonath

Student Showcase:

Alyssa Bistonath

2015 Documentary Media SF Award

Documentary Media student Alyssa Bistonath was awarded the 2015 Documentary Media SF Award to support the travel for and production of her exquisitely evocative film Why We Fight.  Alyssa writes:  "As the daughter of Guyanese immigrants to Canada, I am documenting a growing discourse about Guyana’s past, present, and future . . . The documentary is not a comprehensive history of Guyana, or an effort to homogenize Guyanese culture. Instead it is a collage and impression of the country based on the stories and interviews of individuals living in Guyana, and letters written by people in its diaspora."   



Alumni Showcase:

Blanca Lopez

"Vitamins and Supplements: Magic Pills"  the fifth estate. CBC, Toronto. 20 Nov. 2015.  Television  

Blanca Lopez (MFA 2010) was the Editor for the recent Nov 20th, 2015 episode of the fifth estate, CBC called "Vitamins and Suppliements: Magic Pills". Currently in it's forty-first season, the fifth estate is Canada's premiere investigative program.




Alumni Showcase:

Karin Culliton

2015 Heart and Soul Volunteer Award, Eva's Iniatives

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, 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.


Allah and Me_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.



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

If you are considering applying or simply to learn more about our program, watch a video of the Documentary Media Information Session, November 3, 2015.