A pile of monitors floating in a dark space showing various documentary projects by Laurids Andersen Sonne.Located in the Department of Critical Media Practices adjacent to the Studio 7 gallery and screening room on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, the Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media brings people together to engage with lived experience through documentary. The Center was founded in 2016 by a group of faculty, including Critical Media Practices professors Reece Auguiste and Daniel Boord, documentary scholar Bill Nichols, and cultural anthropologist Paul Shankman.

At the Center, new projects push the boundaries of media and technology to expand the social impact of documentary and ethnography. Committed to working with people across disciplines and experiences, the Center offers a collection of resources for artists and scholars to transform and extend their research and creative work through media production. These include courses, events, project support, fundraising tools, technical resources, and access to a growing regional, national, and international network of scholars and producers.


The Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media fosters the documentary impulse at the intersection of art, science, and technology to build stronger communities and unlock the power of media to transform our societies following four strategic imperatives:


  1. The Center inspires a regional, national, and international forum for documentary and ethnographic art and scholarship accessible to all.
  2. The Center provides impactful experiences in documentary teaching, learning, and professional development for emerging and established artists and scholars from diverse backgrounds.
  3. The Center showcases works of contemporary documentary art that promote and advance a multiplicity of perspectives and challenge dominant narratives.
  4. The Center supports documentary artists producing works that focus on personal, underrepresented, and culturally specific subjects that offer the most profound experiences of art made from life. 

The Center is part of the College of Media, Communication, and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder.


What We Do

To achieve our mission, the Center currently offers programming in four key areas:

  1. The Mimesis Documentary Festival - The annual festival is quickly becoming a premiere documentary event, both in Colorado and worldwide. MDF is a community-oriented showcase of documentary and ethnographic media focusing on personal, underrepresented, and culturally specific subjects. Alongside documentary programming, the festival also hosts conversations moderated by artists and scholars from around the world, participatory masterclasses, internationally acclaimed featured filmmakers, and documentary workshops.
  2. Mimesis Micro Grants - This program is at the heart of our goal to support the production of new documentary work at CU Boulder, and to provide access to documentary resources to university students and workers. The Micro Grant program creates a diverse group of Mimesis Artists whose projects are housed at the Center, whose projects range from landscape-scale immersive experiences to feature documentary films, and everything in between.
  3. The Documentary Lab - A partnership with the Department of Critical Media Practices, the Documentary Lab is the cornerstone of the graduate certificate in Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Practices. With each offering, the Lab brings researchers together from across disciplines to discuss contemporary documentary theory and workshop their documentary projects. The Lab features a guest speaker series bringing a wide range of acclaimed artists and scholars to engage with the CU Boulder community.
  4. Technical Resources and Expertise - Following the model of community media centers and boutique production houses, Mimesis maintains technical equipment and offers documentary expertise to support documentarians at CU Boulder. Currently, the Center helps artists to identify and pursue funding, while providing field equipment, a postproduction suite, grant writing support, project development assistance, and production coordination for Mimesis Artists and participants in the Documentary Lab.

For more information, please check our programs for educational and professional development opportuntinities, our projects for the documentary work we support, the Mimesis Micro Grant program, and our technical resources.

Contact us for more details, questions, or to schedule a consult at cdem@colorado.edu.


The Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media is generously supported by the College of Media, Communication, and Information, the Department of Critical Media Practices, the Research and Innovation Office, and by individual contributions.

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