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COURSE ONE – Documentaries Viewed Through a Psychoanalytic Lens

COURSE ONE - Documentaries Viewed Through a Psychoanalytic Lens

Course Coordinators: Karen Dougherty, RP, FIPA and Steven Silver, TIP Candidate

Wednesdays, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm: September 13, October 25, 2023; January 17, February 28, 2024. (4 sessions)

Fee: $240

Preregistration is required.

** DISTANCE PARTICIPATION ONLY – This course will be conducted online.

This four-evening course is offered for those who are interested in a psychoanalytically informed approach to documentary filmmaking through the lens of iconic point-of-view films about family dynamics.

Participants will have the opportunity to screen the films in advance of the class. The Course instructors, Karen Dougherty and Steven Silver, will co-present each evening with a documentary writer, producer, director, director of photography, or editor. Group participation will be encouraged. All films are available to be screened online at no charge (in Canada). Links will be provided to all registrants and it is expected that participants will have screened each documentary in advance of the class.

September 13: Grey Gardens (d. The Maysles Brothers, 1975, U.S.)

A Mother-Daughter Dance

Discussant: Toronto filmmaker and ATPPP graduate Barri Cohen will lead the evening’s talk about the 1975 cult classic Grey Gardens. In the film, the Maysles Brothers’ unobtrusive camera follows the reclusive “Big” Edie Beale and her daughter “Little” Edie as they bicker, sing, and dance their lives away in a crumbling New England mansion. Barri is no stranger to POV documentaries about mothers and daughters: her NFB film Toxic Trespass reveals the impact of environmental toxins through the story of her young daughter’s health struggles.

October 25: Gerrie and Louise (d. Sturla Gunnarson, 1997, Canada)

Couples in Conflict: Star-Crossed Lovers

Discussant: Steven Silver, filmmaker and TIP analytic candidate, co-wrote and co-produced this award-winning documentary examining post-apartheid South Africa. Steven will discuss his experience telling the unforgettable story of the unusual marriage between Gerrie Hugo, a former officer in the South African Defence Force, and his wife, Louise Flanagan, a journalist investigating the SADF’s controversial role during the apartheid era.

January 17: Stevie (d. Steve James, 1994, U.S.)

Big Brother, Little Brother: Guilt & Reparation

Discussant: Steve James, whose 1994 Hoop Dreams won the Oscar for Best Documentary, will discuss the film he made about reconnecting with “Stevie,” a troubled young boy to whom he had been an “Advocate Big Brother” ten years earlier. When Stevie is charged with a serious crime, James, who feels guilty for having abandoned him all those years ago, makes it his mission to understand what led this traumatized young man down such a self-destructive path.

February 28: A Married Couple (d. Allan King, 1969, Canada)

The Oedipal Triangle & the Camera as Psychoanalyst

Discussant: Award-winning Documentary Editor Nick Hector worked on many of Allan King’s later films. King, one of Canada’s preeminent documentarians, pioneered (along with the Maysles, Frederick Wiseman, and D.A. Pennebaker) the cinema-verité approach to filmmaking. He often compared the documentary camera to the role played by a psychoanalyst and his films had an uncanny ability to capture family dynamics—and the unconscious—on film.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Define and recognize the history, cultural importance and unique impact of point-of-view, verité documentary;
  2. More fully appreciate the ethical, emotional, technical, and artistic challenges inherent in documentary filmmaking, especially in relation to personal, familial, and trauma-related subjects;
  3. Understand basic film theory as related to documentary;
  4. Learn about family constellations from a psychoanalytic perspective;
  5. Relate psychoanalytic concepts to documentary films and more broadly narrative story-telling
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Karen Dougherty, MA, RP (CRPO), FIPA

Karen Dougherty is a Registered Psychotherapist and Psychoanalyst in private practice in Amaranth, Ontario. She is also a documentary filmmaker, a former producer in TVO’s Documentary Unit, and a mental health consultant for film and television. She teaches at the TIP, ATPPP, the FPP, and the Extension Program of the TPS.

Steven Silver, Filmmaker, TIP Candidate

Steven Silver, TIP Candidate, is a South African-Canadian entrepreneur, media executive, investor and a producer/director of film and television. Steven’s documentaries have won many awards including an International Emmy. Steven runs a private psychoanalytic psychotherapy practice in Toronto.

This event is eligible for Section 1 CME credits (0.5 credits/hour). This event is an accredited group learning activity (section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certificate Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, approved by the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA). The specific opinions and content of this event are not necessarily those of the CPA, and are the responsibility of the organizer(s) alone. As per the Royal College standard, each presentation provides a minimum of 25% interactive learning.

Full-time students in universities and colleges, and mental-health trainees are eligible for a 25% reduction in course fees. Proof of 2023/2024 status needs to be provided. Please contact the tps&i directly to register at a discount.

Refunds must be requested in writing two weeks prior to the beginning of a course. A handling fee of $30 will be retained. After these two weeks, fees cannot be returned.

For more information about and for registration in the tps&i Extension Programs, Scientific Meetings, Training Programs, Study and Supervision groups and Special Presentations, please visit our website: or email

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