Friday 24 December 2010

Happy Holidays from FSFF!

Having a few days off! But back soon....

On Film Education and Appreciation

Updated January 13, 2011
British Film Institute library in Dean Street in 1950s
BFI Library today in Stephen Street

Film Studies For Free loves the British Film Institute. It's a remarkable cultural institution in many ways - one of the finest in the world. And its online film educational offerings are unrivalled, both at its main website and at Screenonline

Today, FSFF celebrates some newly published, online, BFI resources on the subject of film appreciation and education in the 1950s. As is its wont, FSFF has supplemented these links with its own curation of online items on international film education and appreciation. All links may be found below.

But FSFF has been dismayed to hear of proposed changes to the British Film Institute National Library (still going strong after 76 wonderful years) and the Viewing Service at the BFI. The proposals are outlined here. These changes are likely to have serious implications for the field and for research opportunities in film and television in the UK. If any of FSFF's readers are concerned about the proposals, you may like to make your views known to the BFI - possibly through the chairman Greg Dyke. If anyone knows of an online petition to register discontent about these changes please let FSFF know and it will happily publish the link. This has now been set up: Please sign!

Selected resources made available by the BFI in the 1950s to support film appreciation and education:
  • 20 Films to use in Junior Film Societies (PDF, 34.3mb) compiled by A. W. Hodgkinson (British Film Institute and The Society of Film Teachers, 1953) Identifies key feature films suitable for studying with young people. Each record includes a summary of the film, examples of critical opinion and suggested discussion points.
  • School Film Appreciation (PDF, 7.1mb) by A. W. Hodgkinson, John Huntley, E. Francis Mills and Jack Smith (King's College School and British Film Institute, 1950) Practical notes compiled by educators in the field, detailing appropriate film titles and books for study, with advice for teachers.
  • The Artist the Critic and the Teacher (PDF, 1.9mb) (The Joint Council for Education through Art, 1959) Programme for a forum presented by The Joint Council for Education through Art on the relevance of the arts to education, held at the National Film Theatre. Participants included Lindsay Anderson, John Berger, Karel Reisz and Kenneth Tynan.
  • Film Study Material (PDF, 850kb) (British Film Institute, 1955) Catalogue of films and extracts available from the British Film Institute for use in film study.

Other Resources on Film Education and Appreciation:

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Film Studies and Aesthetics video and audio resources from the University of Kent

Image of a domestic interior in A Star is Born (George Cukor, 1954). Listen to John David Rhodes's talk on the encounter between cinema and modernist American domestic architecture, in relation to this film and others.

Today, Film Studies For Free brings you glad tidings of the very high quality, audio and video, Film Studies research resources that have been generously shared through the University of Kent website.  

As FSFF's author well knows, having been fortunate enough to work there for a decade, Kent is one of the largest and best university centres in Europe dedicated to Film Studies. Film research there, in both theory and practice (faculty include the world-leading scholars Murray Smith and Elizabeth Cowie, as well as the award-winning film-makers Clio Barnard and  Sarah Turner), is currently centred in four broad areas: national cinemas – form and history: North American, European, Latin American, Asian; the digital in film; the  documentary film; and, especially, film aesthetics, the latter often in collaboration with the interdisciplinary ‘Aesthetics Research Group’.

Some of these interests, and plenty more besides, are beautifully reflected in the amazing wealth of recordings of conferences, symposia and seminars directly linked to below. Just feast your eyes and ears on them.

Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Film and the Moving Image

Audio Resources

  • "The Art of Not Playing to Pictures’ in British Cinemas, 1908-1914" Dr Jon Burrows (University of Warwick) Recent scholarship on musical practices in the silent era argues that by the end of the 1900s and throughout the 1910s the typical cinema musician was a lone pianist who occupied a subordinate position in relation to the projected image and provided forms of accompaniment which ignored traditional musical logic and obediently responded instead to the dictates of narrative logic. Using a variety of evidential sources available in the UK (cinema licensing records, police inspection files, trade paper debates) my paper will argue the contrary: that miniature orchestras were extremely common in British cinemas before the First World War, and that, well into the feature film era, careful synchronisation of music and image was probably the exception rather than the rule. Listen to the lecture here (mp3)
  • "Theory and Practice in British Film Schools" Prof Duncan Petrie (University of York) Film and media education in the UK has long been characterised by a fundamental polarisation between theory and practice. This is most clearly manifest in the widespread separation between academic study and hands-on production training within University and College departments and programmes...Listen to the lecture here (mp3)
  • "Easy Living: The Modernist House and Cinematic Space“ Dr John David Rhodes (University of Sussex) In this paper I will look at a series of encounters—both real and imaginary—between cinema and modernist American domestic architecture. The paper moves from the sets of A Star is Born (Cukor, 1954), to the short experimental film House (1954)...Listen to the lecture here (mp3)
  • "World Cinema and the Ethics of Realism" Prof Lucia Nagib (University of Leeds) This paper will address world cinema through an unusual theoretical model, based on an ethics of realism. The juxtaposition of the terms ‘world cinema’, ‘ethics’ and ‘realism’ creates a tension intended to offer a productive alternative to traditional oppositional binaries such as popular vs art cinemas, fiction vs documentary films, Hollywood vs world cinema... Listen to the lecture here (mp3)
University of Kent Aesthetics Research Group
Audio and video resources:
Kendall Walton and The Aesthetics of Photography and Film (2007)
Jerrold Levinson: Key Concepts in Aesthetics (2008-09)
Research Seminars (ongoing)
Art, Aesthetics and the Sexual (2009)

Monday 20 December 2010

New from BBC Archive: Hollywood Voices interviews with over 70 Hollywood stars

Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth in a publicity still for Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946). Interviews with both actors can be found at the new BBC Archive Hollywood Voices collection.

A star-struck Film Studies For Free has one more item of important news to rush you today. Just feast your eyes on the below release from the BBC Archive.There may be some geo-blocking outside of the UK, unfortunately, but do please check to see if you can download these magnificent resources.

Hollywood Voices looks back at the Golden Age of American cinema with interviews with over 70 movie stars and film makers.

Radio broadcasts by Boris Karloff, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Charlie Chaplin are joined by previously unreleased interviews with Harold Lloyd, Gregory Peck, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and more. Plus - two galleries of photos show the moments when stars like Edward G Robinson, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire came to the BBC in London.

Originally scheduled for release in January, we're really excited to be able to bring this collection to you now, in advance of a new film season from Radio 4. In fact, make sure you have a listen to the new Radio 4 collection of interviews, which is also now available

On Spectatorship, Reception Studies, Fandom and Fan Studies: In Media Res and Flow

Picture from Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla via Flickr, used and altered under Creative Commons License permission.

Film Studies For Free wanted you to know you have to go with the new issue of Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture on Fandom and Fan Studies.  Oh, and then you can join the party already started at In Media Res on issues of spectatorship. The great contents of these worthy e-journals are directly linked to below:

In Media Res December 13-17, 2010 (Theme week organized by Ian Peters [Georgia State University])
Flow: A Critical Forumon Television and Media Culture
  • "Revisiting Fandom in Africa" by Olivier J. Tchouaffe The application of fandom and its resources is not the same in all cultures, and African fans might not be recognized as legitimate fans. The point of this piece is to demonstrate that there is a unifying figure of American domination of mass culture.

New Senses of Cinema: Assayas, Ava Gardner, Haneke, Morin, Rouch, Epstein, African Francophone cinema, Citizen Kane, digital cinema

One Touch of Venus (William A. Seiter, 1948), starring Robert Walker and Ava Gardner. See Edgar Morin's essay on Gardner here.

As ever, Film Studies For Free rushes you the latest e-journal news. Today, the latest Senses of Cinema hit the e-newsstands. Without further bloggish ado, read the below links to contents and weep with film-scholarly joy!

Issue 57 Contents

Feature Articles

Great Directors

Festival Reports

  • Celluloid Liberation Front on Venice

Book Reviews

Cteq Annotations

Saturday 18 December 2010

"The Greatest Disguise": On Cross-Dressing in Films, In Memory of Blake Edwards

James Garner and Julie Andrews in Victor Victoria (Blake Edwards, 1982). Read Véronique Fernández's article on this film: '"People Believe What They See": Clothing and Genders in Victor/Victoria', Lectora, 7, 2001
Police Inspector: You idiot! That's a man! 
Labisse: It can't be! 
Police Inspector: The person in that room was naked from the waist down, and if that was a woman, then she is wearing the greatest disguise I have ever seen! 
It's the day after the news emerged of the death of American screenwriter and director Blake Edwards at the grand age of 88, surrounded by his loved ones in a California hospital. David Hudson's customary gathering of links to tributes is a very good place to begin to find out, if you don't already know, about the warm esteem in which Edwards was held by critics and other filmmakers.
Today, Film Studies For Free presents its own little "cross-dressing-in-international-film"-links homage to its favourite Blake Edwards film, the cross-dressing comedy Victor Victoria. It may not be the queerest of queer films, certainly; it may not even be the queerest of Blake Edwards' queerish films... But it is one of the funniest, with plenty of treats for fans of Julie Andrews and James Garner. It thus stands as a fine testimony to Blake Edwards' gently subversive powers as a screenwriter and a director.

FSFF's author first saw this film, memorably, on its French repertory release in 1984, as a year-abroad student. Alone in a packed cinema, she had the doubly funny but also unsettling experience of laughing at the numerous verbal gags as they were delivered in English, and then waiting for the French audience to laugh as the subtitles unerringly delivered a belated punch, a curious case of comic différance.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image

Image from Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981). Read Patricia MacCormack's article on the film here.
Film Studies For Free is delighted to pass on news of the launch of Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image. You can find the table of contents for its inaugural issue and links to all article PDFs below

Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image is a refereed publication published online by the Philosophy of Language Institute of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the New University of Lisbon. The journal publishes original essays and critical articles, reviews, conference reports and interviews, and releases original art work in the field of philosophical inquiry into cinema. The term “cinema” is here taken in its broadest sense as moving image (and image that moves). Historically, cinema studies have centered on film, but with the digitization and proliferation of new means of production and distribution have also studied video, television and new media. This deep engagement with cinematic culture, so understood, can provide tools for a better understanding of contemporary visual culture. Cinema is particularly interested in philosophical approaches to the aesthetics of the moving image as well as in philosophical investigations on particular works and about the contexts in which these works are seen and produced. It accepts submissions in Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish and it offers free access to its content.

Cinema aims at:

• disseminating philosophical investigations into cinema in the broadest sense, that is, including video, television, and new media;
• promoting the link between Portuguese and international scientific communities that develop work simultaneously within the fields of cinema studies and philosophy;
• providing a platform for a fruitful dialogue between various approaches, particular methodologies, topics and interdisciplinary contributions, within the scope of the journal.
The make up of the international editorial team bespeaks the very high quality of this new journal. And the star-studded line-up for its first issue, together with its extraordinarily interesting table of contents, shows just how thrilling those all too unusual 'analytic philosophy' and 'continental philosophy' juxtapositions can be!

FSFF really looks forward to reading more, and sincerely wishes CJPMI the very best for a long and always openly accessible life!
Issue 1 (December 2010) 






CFP for Issue 2 here.

Patrícia Silveirinha Castello Branco, editor
Sérgio Dias Branco, associate editor
Susana Viegas, associate editor

Sunday 12 December 2010

"European film-makers construct the United States"

Image from Rancho Notorious (Fritz Lang, 1952). Read Hilaria Loyo's
Star and National Myths in Cold War Allegories: Marlene Dietrich’s Star Persona and the Western in Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952)
Thanks to the ever brilliant David Hudson, Film Studies For Free heard about a must-read item on American cinema, a special issue of the European Journal of American Studies entitled European film-makers construct the United States. Links to all the brilliant and openly accessible articles are given below.

European Journal of American Studies (1, 2010) Special issue on Film: European film-makers construct the United States

New Issue of Scope!

Image from Good Bye, Lenin! ( Wolfgang Becker, 2003). Read Kevin L. Ferguson's fascinating article on the film: Home Movies: Historical Space and the Mother's Memory

Good Bye Lenin!, a film commonly read as a political fable of East German nostalgia, is rather for me a successful example of autobiographical narrative that balances maternal loss and a boy's coming to manhood, framing this transition in and through home movies. As such, it provides a much-needed positive model for cinema's use of mothers and memory. [Kevin L. Ferguson]

Film Studies For Free has been far too quiet lately, but that's about to change, people! Let us kick off the burst of activity with FSFF's usual update about one of its very favourite openly accessible, film-scholarly journals, SCOPE: And Online Journal of Film and TV Studies, run by those wonderful people at the Department of Culture, Film and Media, University of Nottingham. The full Table of Contents is reproduced below for your convenient reading pleasure.

Scope, Issue 18, 2010


Art Cinema as Institution, Redux: Art Houses, Film Festivals, and Film Studies
David Andrews
The Pinnacle of Popular Taste?: The Importance of Confessions of a Window Cleaner
Sian Barber
Walking the Line: Negotiating Celebrity in the Country Music Biopic
Molly Brost
Home Movies: Historical Space and the Mother's Memory
Kevin L. Ferguson
An Aristocratic Plod, Erstwhile Commandos and Ladies who Craved Excitement: Hammer Films' Post-War BBC Crime Series and Serial Adaptations
David Mann

Book Reviews

"May Contain Graphic Material": Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Film By M. Keith Booker
Reviewer: David Simmons
Investigating Firefly and Serenity By Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran (eds.) & Special Issue on Firefly and Serenity
Reviewer: Ronald Helfrich
Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film By Adilifu Nama & Mixed Race Hollywood
Reviewer: Augusto Ciuffo de Oliveira
Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright By Lucas Hilderbrand & From Betamax to Blockbuster: Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video
Reviewer: Daniel Herbert
Stanley Cavell's American Dream: Shakespeare, Philosophy, and Hollywood Movies By Lawrence F. Rhu
Reviewer: Áine Kelly
Scorsese By Roger Ebert
Reviewer: John Berra
Contemporary British Cinema: From Heritage to Horror By James Leggott & Roman Polanski
Reviewer: Paul Newland
Cities In Transition: The Moving Image and the Modern Metropolis By Andrew Webber and Emma Wilson (eds.) & Cinematic Countrysides (Inside Popular Film)
Reviewer: Peter C. Pugsley
Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World By S. Brent Plate & Crowd Scenes: Movies and Mass Politics
Reviewer: Douglas C. MacLeod, Jr.
Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City By Mark Shiel
Reviewer: Tom Whittaker
Independent Cinema (includes DVD of Paul Cronin's Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel and Cinema 16) By D.K. Holm & Declarations of Independence: American Cinema and the Partiality of Independent Production
Reviewer: Carl Wilson
Seventies British Cinema By Robert Shail (ed.)
Reviewer: Lawrence Webb
Photography and Cinema (Exposures) By David Campany  & Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography
Reviewer: Tom Slevin
Russians in Hollywood, Hollywood's Russians: Biography of an Image By Harlow Robinson & How the Soviet Man was Unmade: Cultural Fantasy and Male Subjectivity under Stalin
Reviewer: Brian Faucette
A Companion to Spanish Cinema By Bernard P.E. Bentley & Gender and Spanish Cinema
Reviewer: Abigail Keating
The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II By David Welky & The Hidden Art of Hollywood: In Defense of the Studio Era Film
Reviewer: Hannah Durkin
Neil Jordan By Maria Pramaggiore & The Cinema of Neil Jordan: Dark Carnival
Reviewer: Steve Masters
Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, and Memory By Nurith Gertz and George Khleifi
Reviewer: Omar Kholeif
The Cinema of Jan Švankmajer: Dark Alchemy (Directors' Cuts) By Peter Hames & Hungarian Cinema: From Coffee House to Multiplex
Reviewer: Jonathan Owen
Movie Greats: A Critical Study of Classic Cinema By Philip Gillett  & Inventing Film Studies
Reviewer: Steven Rybin

Film Reviews

Generation Kill
Reviewer: Sheamus Sweeney
Diary of the Dead
Reviewer: Sigmund Shen
Rich and Strange & Stage Fright
Reviewer: Judy Beth Morris
Blood: The Last Vampire
Reviewer: Kia-Choong Teo
Reviewer: Alice Mills
Before and After
Reviewer: Clodagh M. Weldon

Conference Reports

Bloodlines: British Horror Past and Present, An International Conference and Film Festival at De Montfort University and Phoenix Square, Leicester, 4 - 5 March 2010
Reporter: Michael Ahmed
IMAGEing Reality, University of Navarra, Spain, 22– 24 October 2009
Reporter: Stefano Odorico
The Moving Image: Reconfiguring Spaces of Loss and Mourning in the 21st Century, Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Cambridge, 26-27 February 2010
Reporter: Jenny Chamarette
NECS 2009 3rd Annual Conference: Locating Media, Lund, Sweden, 25 - 28 June, 2009
Reporter: Andrea Virginás
New Waves: XII International Film and Media Conference, Transylvania, Romania, 22 - 23 October 2009
Reporter: Hajnal Kiraly
Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, April 16 - 17 2010
Reporter: Darren Elliott-Smith
Re-Living Disaster, Birbkeck College, London, 29-30 April 2010
Reporter: Ozlem Koksal
SCMS @ 50/LA (Society for Cinema and Media Studies): Archiving the Future, Mobilizing the Past, Los Angleles, California, US, March 10-14, 2010
Reporter: Jason Kelly Roberts
SCMS @ 50/LA (Society for Cinema and Media Studies), Los Angeles, California, March 10-14, 2010
Reporter: Martin L. Johnson
Straight Outta Uttoxeter: Studying Shane Meadows, University of East Anglia, 15 - 16 April 2010
Reporter: Emma Sutton

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Media Fields Journal on Video Stores

Melonie DiazJack Black, and  Mos Def  in Be Kind, Rewind (Michel Gondry, 2008 - See FSFF's post on Gondry for some reading on this film)

Film Studies For Free is thrilled to be able to pass on news of the launch of MEDIA FIELDS JOURNAL: Critical Explorations in Media and Space, a new graduate online journal based in the University of California, Santa Barbara's Department of Film and Media Studies.

The first issue (1.1, 2010) on VIDEO STORES, edited by Joshua Neves and Jeff Scheible, is now available at

Neves and Scheible introduce their special issue as follows:
This new online journal represents the latest development in a research initiative launched in UCSB’s Department of Film and Media Studies in 2007. The goal of Media Fields is to provide a forum focused on the critical study of media and space, where we can dynamically present and openly debate the latest work from established and emerging scholars and practitioners. Each issue will have a theme—whether it is a topic of contemporary relevance; an exploration of a particular concept, media form, genre, or practice; or, as in this issue, a specific media space: the video rental store.
     We were compelled to focus on the space of the video store in this issue because it is a “media field” that at once allows for the kind of tangible, site-specific fieldwork that is at the heart of Media Fields and, at the same time, is a site where a range of important issues intersect: “new” media’s consequences for “old” media; uses, developments, and failures of media technologies; the cultivation of knowledge about cinema and television; global media distribution; piracy and the law; the circulation of pornography; configurations of cultural communities; relations between public and private space; and contemporary media reception. [read more]
The issue contents are linked to below. Also see the following great site mentioned by the special issue: Video Cultures.
Issue Contents:

Please also note that a call for submissions for an issue on DOCUMENTARY AND SPACE is now open and can be viewed here.