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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 January 27, 2015 - 6:30 pm - 122 Bond, Room B22


President Levy, MFA Grad Sarah Foy, Chancellor Bloomberg
President Levy, MFA Graduate Sarah Foy and Chancellor Bloomberg, Oct 24, 2014

Alumni Showcase: Sarah Foy

On Thursday, October 16, Sarah Foy a graduate of the Documentary Media program (M.F.A. 2014)  was called up to the podium to receive two awards: the Faculty of Communication and Design, Yeates School of Graduate Studies Ryerson Gold Medal and the Board of Governors Leadership Award in the presence of Chancellor Bloomberg, President Levy, Provost Lachemi and guests and graduates.

Sarah Foy came to Canada because an unjust law prevented her life-partner from staying in the United States. Sarah conceived Landed: Together in Canada as a means to raise awareness on behalf of all who are exiled, in particular LGBTQI people, due to violations of human rights. Presented in both Doc/Now and WorldPride Toronto, Sarah’s multimedia project embodies Ryerson’s commitment to human rights and dignity, garnering extensive media attention, and educating audiences beyond our doors.

As volunteer co-chair of the Doc/Now Festival, she led substantive initiatives, greatly increased funds and worked tirelessly to ensure success for the festival and her peers. In gathering nominations for this award, the feedback on Sarah’s academic performance was clear: Sarah is brilliant, engaged, creative, courageous, committed to justice, driven, sensitive, respectful, and kind. She has succeeded in winning the hearts of all who have worked with her, as well as obtaining top marks.

A supporter of Sarah’s nomination notes that: “She embodies the spirit for which I suspect the Gold Medal Award was created. She is someone who has been academically successful and the work and scholarship she has produced at Ryerson has brought greater recognition to meaningful issues, showcased the lived realities of underrepresented Canadian immigrants who are also sexual minorities, and has shined a light upon Ryerson University, the Greater Toronto Area, World Pride Toronto, and numerous other communities. She sets the standard as a prototype of a graduate student leader, artist, and life educator.”

Congratulations Sarah!


Sara Angelucci: Provenance Unknown
Sarah Angelucci: Provenance Unknown

Faculty Showcase: 

Sarah Angelucci & Robert Burley



This past Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 the Ontario Association of Art Galleries held their annual awards ceremony at the Gladstone Hotel in downtown Toronto.  The Exhibition Design and Installation Award went to: Sara Angelucci: Provenance Unknown, Emelie Chhangur, Curator and Designer, Emelie Chhangur & Suzanne Carte, Exhibition Coordinators, Sara Angelucci, Artist.






Sarah Angelucci, recently had her work shown at the Royal Ontario Museum. A Mourning Chorus at the Royal Ontario Museum a choral work based on the sound of disappearing North American song birds was held in September 2014 at the ROM. This work was directed and composed by Sarah Angelucci in collaboration with Marie-Josee Chartier, Katherine Duncanson, Anne Fauteux, Fides Krucker, Brenna MacCrimmon, Laurel MacDonald and Suba Sankaran. 


Robert Burley, a Documentary Media Professor is currently showing his work in two exhibitions; The New Suburb: Landmarks  at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen Quay West, Toronto, ON and The Disappearance of Darkness an international travelling exhibition at George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY.



Student Showcase: Zile Liepins

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