Semester at Sea represents a unique opportunity for me as a documentary filmmaker and teacher. Great documentaries are made by filmmakers with passion for the stories they tell. And no young filmmakers are more passionate than the students of Semester at Sea.
The summer 2012 voyage provides a remarkable context for a course in documentary film. We have class daily and informal teacher/student interactions throughout the day. Documentary filmmaking is more than an academic subject; it is a way of looking at the world. Our floating “academical village” provides the perfect setting.
Of course, our Mediterranean voyage also offers a wealth of true-life stories that are the basis for my students’ films—stories of vibrant cities, inspiring art and architecture, and fascinating peoples of ancient cultures. This semester I’m also asking my class to document their own lives as students on our voyage of discovery. I remind them that Robert Flaherty, the creator of the first documentary film, was both an explorer and a filmmaker. And I encourage them to embrace both roles.