Master class by Jouko Aaltonen, Finland


16:00 – 18:00 November, 24

Kirov Culture Center, Dance Hall, 2nd floor


What is a script for documentary film? What different kind of forms and formats do scriptwriters use for documentary films? What is the practice and theory of documentary scriptwriting?

Documentary script is not an exact blueprint for making a film. It is more a sketch, an expression of the intention or even a manifesto about the aims of the filmmaker. The form and dramaturgy of documentary films are created in the filmmaking process and in dialogue between the filmmaker and real people. A documentary script can be considered a hypothesis about the reality which the filmmaker is going to encounter via the process of filmmaking.

In this workshop we will discuss these ideas by exploring two examples of my own films. Kusum (2000) is an observational documentary film following the healing of a young Indian girl. The script was made beforehand, but during the shooting process almost everything changed, including the main character and storyline. Another example is the story of an engineer, who worked in colonial Congo at the beginning of the 20th century. A Man From The Congo River (2010) is based on diaries and other historical material. Therefore, it was possible to construct a very precise script for the film. But even this script was challenged by the filmmaking process.