Thursday, 28 April 2011

Issues of KINEMA (Spring and Fall 2010)

Image from Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007). Read Alessandro's Zir's article on this film for Kinema (Spring 2010)
Film Studies For Free continues with its roundup of recent offerings from online film studies journal by catching up with the last two issues posted at Kinema: a Journal for Film and Audiovisual Media.

Lots of good stuff here, but FSFF particularly enjoyed Alessandro Zir's essay on Paranoid Park, Antonio Sanna on the connections between the Alien series of films and Bram Stoker's Dracula novel, and Des O'Rawe's study of Godard's Film Socialisme.

Spring 2010

Fall 2010

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

New Issue of Screening the Past

Image from The Party (Blake Edwards, 1968). Read Charles Barr's article on this film, reprinted in issue 30 of Screening the Past
Film Studies For Free rushes you news, via Adrian Martin, that not only has Screening the Past, that wonderful, A* rated, online journal of screen history, theory and criticism, posted its latest issue, but it has changed URL, and is in the process of upgrading its website.

All the new contents are listed below. FSFF hasn't read everything yet, but is enjoying STP's tributes to Blake Edwards, as well as the Open Access reprint of Chris Berry's wonderful essay China’s New “Women’s Cinema”.

First Release

Tribute to Blake Edwards


Monday, 25 April 2011

30 Online Film Studies Books and PhD Theses from OhioLINK

Image from When Night is Falling (Patricia Rozema, 1995), a film discussed by Jamie L. Stuart
Film Studies For Free shakes itself out of an uncharacteristic, unseasonal, hot-weather related torpor to bring you one of its regular reports (and lists of links) from a University research repository. Today, it's the turn of the utterly brilliant repository at the OhioLINK ETD Center, gathering theses and books (in bold below) by film studies scholars at Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Ohio University, and Case Western Reserve University.

As usual, these links will be added in due course to FSFF's permanent listings of Online Film and Moving Image Studies PhD Theses and Open Access Film E-books List.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Great new Essays on Film and Video from Mediascape

The above video is a very short, but effective, introduction to issues affecting small nations as they produce cinema, using the example of the Nordic countries, by film scholar Mette Hjort. It is also a fascinating digital promotional tool for a University of Washington Press book series co-edited by her. See Hjort's excellent essay on 'small nation cinema studies' in the new issue of Mediascape. And also see Tom Zaniello's excellent article there on emerging, new-media forms of documentary including the digital advert.

Film Studies For Free was really delighted to see that there's a new issue out of online journal Mediascape. The Winter 2011 issue explores
the complex notions of the local and global as they intersect with media: industries and studies; cultures of production, distribution, exhibition and reception; as well as the text itself. Some of the questions this issue engages with include: In what ways does the global marketplace facilitate local products and productions? How do actors negotiate the politics of globalization in how they represent themselves in either the digitally enhanced or real worlds? How can digital media balance both the autonomy of local communities and the ongoing impact of corporate globalization? What role do academic scholars and students play in the globalization of media studies? [read more of this introduction here].
As with earlier issues of this high quality and strikingly original journal, there are a good number of items in audiovisual formats (including video essays, video exemplars, etc). Alongside Mette Hjort's and Tom Zaniello's articles, FSFF particularly appreciated Brian Hu's excellent video essay on the use of popular music in Wong Kar-wai’s films: truly wonderful, analytical viewing and listening! But there are many others pieces of great interest and these are all directly linked to below.

Thanks for a really great issue, Mediascape.

Columns Video:

Monday, 11 April 2011

Audiovisualcy: Videographic Film Studies

Logo for Audiovisualcy at Vimeo

At the weekend, Film Studies For Free's author dreamt of a beautiful online archive, gathering together works in the burgeoning scholarly and critical genre of video essays about films and moving image studies. 

A little feverish curatorial and neologistical work later, the marvellous dream became a reality.  Audiovisualcy is that reality.

Audiovisualcy is a group page at Vimeo which gathers together in one handy and easy to find place, the numerous video essays about films, film studies and film theory already posted at that video hosting site by individual users. Twenty-eight videos [more than seventy, as of April 12], on all manner of films, are available for your perusal so far. More will be added as they are discovered or created.

If you join the group, you will automatically receive updates as new videos are posted, but you can also follow @AUDIOVISUALCY and get those at Twitter, too. If you know of any other relevant video essays at Vimeo or ones hosted on other sites, you can let the group know about them by emailing us here, and, if appropriate, these will be added and publicised.

If you are curious about the possibilities for Film Studies or for film criticism offered by this format, do please check out the links to the work of some of more prolific, and (beginning with Matt Zoller Seitz) talented, essayists, below.

Catherine Grant: 
Matt Zoller Seitz:
Kevin B. Lee:
Steven Santos:
Jim Emerson:
Kartina Richardson:
Jason Bellamy:
Ben Sampson:
Paul Malcolm:
Eric Faden:
Also see the following online journals which have regularly published video essays:

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Framing Incandescence: Elizabeth Taylor in JANE EYRE (1944)

"In a world of flickering images,
Elizabeth Taylor was a constant star.

This video offers an audiovisual introduction to issues of film performance, cinematic staging, and gender in relation to Elizabeth Taylor's brief, uncredited role as doomed-child character Helen Burns in the 1944 film Jane Eyre, directed by Robert Stevenson, and adapted from Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name.

Film Studies For Free was far from home, just over two weeks ago, when the remarkable film actor and person Elizabeth Taylor passed away. It was very sorry not to be able to respond to this event as soon as it might have liked. Taylor was FSFF's author's favourite Hollywood star by some distance.

David Hudson has worked hard to gather links to an astonishing range of online tributes to Taylor. FSFF wanted to add to these, but not simply with its own customary list of links to any related (in this case, rather scant) online scholarly resources.

It decided upon the creation of a relatively self-contained audiovisual memorial in the form of the above contemplation, Framing Incandescence - the second in FSFF's new, video primer series.

As befits a 'Primer', rather than aiming to generate completely new insights, this 'rich text object' attempts, within the time-space of the average YouTube fan clip, to assemble and combine quotations from existing film scholarship on its topic with sequences from the film in question in order to provide a meaningful, scholarly and affective, immersive experience. Making fair use of the possibilities for moving image studies offered by online accessibility, video primers might well profit from feeling a little like fan videos and introductory film studies all at once.

Framing Incandescence certainly comments on the fetishism and fetishisation of the star image of Elizabeth Taylor at the same time as it willingly deploys that fetishism in its own rhetoric and, indeed, it practices tactical forms of 'possessive spectatorship', such as those Laura Mulvey points to, in her recent work, as characteristic of film viewing in the digital age.

For the quotations in this particular study, FSFF is especially indebted to the work of film scholar Gaylyn Studlar in her brilliant essay on Taylor's performances as a child actor in her three 1944 films (Jane Eyre, The White Cliffs of Dover and National Velvet). This essay appears in Tamar Jeffers McDonald's fascinating 2010 collection Virgin Territory: Representing Sexual Inexperience in Film (Wayne State University Press). Other sources and related texts of interest are listed below.

The makers of Jane Eyre cast two further, wonderful, child stars from the 1940s in more central roles than that of Taylor: Peggy Ann Garner (featured extensively in the video primer) and Margaret O'Brien. If you are interested in the concept, practices and history of the child actor/child star, and issues of juvenile performance more generally, you may well want to know about an upcoming conference precisely on this topic. Please scroll down further in this entry to find out more. 

Further related reading and texts cited by the 'Framing Incandescence' video primer:
  • David Bordwell, Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005)
  • Elisabeth Bronfen, Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic  (Manchester: Manchester University Press,1992)
  • Richard Dyer, White (London and New York: Routledge, 1997) [Dyer's reference to tuberculosis as 'White Death' is on p. 209)
  • Delphine Letort,' Diverging Interpretations of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847): Franco Zeffirelli’s and Robert Stevenson’s Screen Adaptations', Revue LISA/LISA e-journal online here
  • Susan McLeland, ''Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood's Last Glamour Girl', in Hilary Radner and Moya Luckett (eds), Swinging single: representing sexuality in the 1960s (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999)
  • Jane O'Connor, Cultural Significance of the Child Star (London and New York: Routledge, 2008)
  • Jane O'Connor, 'Beyond Social Constructionism: A Structural Analysis of the Cultural Significance of the Child Star', Children and Society, Vol. 23 (2009), pp. 214-225
  • Momin Rahman, '[Review] Jane O'Connor, The Cultural Significance of the Child Star...', Canadian Journal of Sociology 33(3) 2008, pp. 752-754: online here
  • Diana Serra Cary, Hollywood's Children (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1978, 1997)
  • Gaylyn Studlar, 'Velvet's Cherry: Elizabeth Taylor and Virginal English Girlhood' in Tamar Jeffers McDonald (ed.), Virgin Territory: Representing Sexual Inexperience in Film (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2010)
  • Emma Wilson, Cinema's Missing Children (London: Wallflower Press, 2003)

Child Actors/Child Stars: Juvenile Performance on Screen
A conference co-hosted by the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland, and the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex. 
To be held at the David Puttnam Media Centre, University of Sunderland
8-9 September, 2011
 This conference seeks to build on recent scholarly interest in screen performance by focusing on the contribution of child actors to the history of international film and television. From the popular child stars of Hollywood to the child actors working in popular television and the non-professional children ubiquitous throughout ‘world cinema,’ the child performer is a prominent figure across a diverse range of media. However, the child actor is rarely considered in discussions of screen performance or of the representation of childhood: this conference will be the first of its kind to be focused exclusively on the work of children in and for film and television. We welcome papers that discuss particular child stars and performers and/or particular performances by children, as well as papers that consider more general historical and theoretical questions related to the child actor’s presence on the screen and their position in film and television cultures and industries. 
Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Dr. Karen Lury (University of Glasgow), author of The Child in Film: Tears, Fears and Fairytales (2010).
Confirmed Special Guest: Jon Whiteley, the former child actor, will talk about his film career and his experiences making Hunted (Charles Crichton, 1952), The Little Kidnappers (Philip Leacock, 1953), Moonfleet (Fritz Lang, 1955) and The Spanish Gardener (Philip Leacock, 1956).
(Further Speakers/Special Guests to be announced)
The conference will comprise both traditional panels (consisting of papers of 20-25 minutes) and workshops (consisting of 10 minute long position papers that outline a key idea/theme/ argument or offer close analysis of a moment of child performance in film). Please clearly mark your submission ‘panel’ or ‘workshop’. We hope the conference will both represent existing scholarship and inspire and encourage further work, and so we welcome contributions that are speculative and experimental.  We are interested in papers on the following topics but would also welcome proposals on other areas as well:
the training and schooling of child actors; the craft and labour of the child actor; notions of agency and control; different traditions of child acting and how child acting operates within different national/historical/cultural contexts and on the small (tv) as opposed to big screen (cinema); the critical reception of children’s performances/the child as actor; the relationship between child acting and child stardom (e.g. the contribution that performance makes to the formation/articulation of child star identity; the notion of the child star as performer); the child actor’s transition to child star; the transition from child to adolescent (or adult) performer; adolescent performances in film and/or television; how child performance operates within the context of genre; the child’s voice as an aspect of performance; voice/body relations in child performance; the dynamics involved when children perform with adult actors/stars; the work of the child actor in children’s vs. non-children’s cinema/television;  children performing with animals; ensemble child acting;  the performative spaces in which children find scope to act; child acting during the silent vs. sound era;  the notion of the child as performer in the animated film;  collaborations between child actors and particular directors or stars;   professional vs. non-professional child acting.
 It is hoped that selected papers from the conference will be published in the form of an edited book collection. Please send abstracts (no more than 250 words) to our conference email address by 15 April 2011. Pre-constituted panels of 3 speakers are welcome. Acceptance notices will be issued by 6 May 2011. Our conference website is available at and will be updated with registration and other details in the coming weeks. 
Any general enquiries should be addressed to the conference co-organisers: Susan Smith and Michael Lawrence.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Horror Ad-Nauseam!

Image from Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2009) Read Adam Nayman's essay on this 'semiotic zombie film' at ReverseShot, as well as Steen Christiansen's article linked to below.

Film Studies For Free has been somewhat stopped in its tracks by an unseasonal cold. But, sustained by its usual missionary zeal for Open Access film and moving image studies, it rises zombie-like (see above) from its sick bed to bring you news of the latest issue of excellent online journal Cinephile (Vol. 6 No. 2 Fall 2010) on ‘Horror Ad-Nauseam' (note: link to a very large PDF file, as are all the links below).

Normal FSFF service will resume on Thursday...