Picture of the historic Hale Sciences building at CU Boulder.

Located in the historic Hale Sciences Building on the University of Colorado's flagship Boulder campus, the Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media brings people together to engage with lived experience through documentary. Originally founded in 2016, the Center launched the Mimesis initiative in 2019 as a nexus for producing documentary work at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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 Mimesis initative 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. Mimesis inspires a regional, national, and international forum for documentary and ethnographic scholarship accessible to all.
  2. Mimesis offers impactful opportunities for documentary teaching, learning, and professional development for emerging and established artists and scholars from any background.
  3. Mimesis showcases works of contemporary documentary art that promote and advance a diversity of perspectives and provide alternatives to dominant narratives.
  4. Mimesis 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. 

Mimesis is a partnership between the departments of Anthropology and Critical Media Practices, housed in the College of Media, Communication, and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder.


What We Do

To achieve our mission, Mimesis 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, as well as historically under-resourced communities. The Micro Grant program creates a diverse group of Mimesis Artists whose projects are housed at the Center. These 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 funding and provides 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 develpment 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 Departments of Anthropology and Critical Media Practices, the Research and Innovation Office, and by individual contributions.

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