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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.

Professional Experience

The DocNow Festival presents the thesis work of students in the program. Students collaborate on a citywide festival featuring screenings, exhibitions and events exploring a wide range of subjects and celebrating their creative achievements.

Doc Now Festival 2018

Alumni Showcase

2017 Hot Docs Premieres

Seven Documentary Media Alumni Premiere five films at Hot Docs 2017


The Quiet Zone

Directed by Daniel Froidevaux (MFA 2011) and Elisa Gonzalez (MFA 2011)



State of Exception

Directed by Jason O’Hara (MFA 2013)



DocX: Africville in Black and White

Directed by Cyrus Sundar Singh (MFA 2016)



Directed by Ali Weinstein (MFA 2014). Produced by Caitlin Durlak (MFA 2014)



Take a Walk on the Wildside

Directed by Lisa Rideout (MFA 2013)



First Place in TVO Short Docs Competition 

Lindsay Fitzgerald (MFA 2017)

1st Place in the 2016 TVO Short Docs competition with her film About Employment featuring Yin Brown. 

View Lindsay's award winning short documentary

Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2017

Rebekah Reiko (Silverstone-Segal) (MFA 2011)

Closes the 2017 Toronto Jewish Film Festival with the world premiere of her documentary Mandala Beats.



2016 Hot Docs Featured

Marc Serpa Francoeur & Bob Uppal (MFA 2013)
The World in Ten Blocks, a documentary installation about Toronto's Bloorcourt neighborhood by Documentary Media graduates Marc Serpa Francoeur and Robinder Uppal featured throughout the Hot Docs 2016 festival as part of the DocX program:


Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award, 2016

Eduardo Lima (MFA 2011)

Lima is a Toronto-based freelance photojournalist who is a regular contributor to Corbis Images and Metroland Media and who has been published in the Toronto Star and Le Monde.  As the recipient of the Tom Handson Photojournalism Award, Eduardo will spend six weeks in Toronto interning with The Canadian Press.

2016 Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award


Outstanding International Alumni Award, Ryerson University 2016

Zanele Muholi (MFA 2010)

This award recognizes an international alumnus/na who has demonstrated exceptional accomplishment in his or her chosen profession; shown exceptional service in community affairs at the local, state or national level; and has contributed to the advancement and continued excellence of Ryerson University.

Alumni Achievement Awards

2016 SF Media Award Winner  

Stephanie Vizi (MFA 2017)

Documentary Media student Stephanie Vizi is the winner of the 2016 SF Media Award for her film Mistissini Healing about Cree youth overcoming struggles in the midst of a system that has set them up to fail. Many intergenerational survivors of the Residential School system struggle with broken families, mental illness, suicidal inclinations, dropping out of high school and substance abuse. Through a participatory format, Vizi captures how Cree youth in Mistissini ultimately cope with isolation, loss of traditional culture and silence with various forms of healing. 

View Stephanie's Mistissini Healing documentary trailer


2016 Gary Cwitco and Fern Vallen Social Justice Award Winner

Sean Stiller (MFA 2017)

Cyéwmen [hee-elt-man] is a multisensory experience of the traditional Secwepemc (Shuswap) salmon fish camp. It is a meditation on a cycle of sustenance woven through traditional knowledge and integral to the survival of the Secwepemc; standing defiantly against the brutal efficiency of commercial fishing and resource extraction.

Through sight, sound, feeling and smell, viewers are situated both spatially and emotionally. In the spirit of Secwepemc land-based learning, Cyéwmen offers itself as a space for meditative observation, where awareness of one's environment and sensory stimuli become catalysts for the emergence of insight and emotional possibility. 

Cyéwmen will be presented in an installation format during the DocNow 2017 festival. Visit Sean's website to view more of his work:


Featured on CBC Short Docs

Vivian Belik (MFA 2015)

Recent Documentary Media graduate Vivian Belik has co-created a documentary film with Naomi Mark about Yuka Honda, a Japanese expat who prepares for a 1000 mile dogsled race to fulfill her mother's dying wish.

Watch Underdog on CBC Short Docs here:

Photo Credits:

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

Documentary Media, MFA
(416) 979-5000 ext. 2763