Tuesday 29 June 2010

Australian national cinema studies

Film Studies For Free presents its whopping and interdisciplinary list of scholarly links to online and openly accessible studies of one of its favourite national cinemas, that of Australia. A passable effort for a Pom website, it hopes you agree.

There are some veritably beaut resources here, but FSFF would especially like to flag up one great, but time-limited, free download opportunity: Ben Goldsmith and Geoff Lealand (eds.), Directory of World Cinema: Australia and New Zealand (Bristol: Intellect Books, 2010)

Saturday 26 June 2010

Michael Haneke Studies: videos, podcasts and article links

Dedicated to the memory of Peter Brunette, 1943-2010

The above is a new video essay produced for Film Studies For Free's baby sister site Filmanalytical. It explores some of the obvious, as well as the more obscure, similarities between two films: Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960) and Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages/Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (Michael Haneke, 2000). Like all mash-ups it's best enjoyed and/or most effective if you know the original films. Read an explanation of the context of this work here.
Thomas Elsaesser on Michael Haneke (excerpt) And see Elsaesser's book chapter on this work here (pdf -details below)


 Film Studies For Free created a big Michael Haneke links list in October last year to coincide with the flood of online material on this filmmaker as a consequence of the cinematic release of Das Weisse Band/The White Ribbon. The flood shows no sign of abating, however, and so here's a new and updated list of material. For ease of use, FSFF has listed at the top items that weren't included in the October entry.

At the top of this post is a new video essay made by FSFF's author for a new companion website to  this blog: Filmanalytical. The site will focus on video and written essays on films and will necessarily be more "occasional" than FSFF, but hopefully useful nonetheless for those of you who like your Film Studies to be online and freely accessible.

This entry, like two other FSFF posts here and here, is dedicated to the memory of Peter Brunette, the film critic and scholar who died last week. Peter's last book was on Michael Haneke, and below is a link to a wonderful podcast interview that he gave on the subject of this filmmaker.

Finally, there are some other great new English-language books on Michael Haneke -- to join Catherine Wheatley's 2008 Michael Haneke's Cinema: The Ethics of the Image -- some of which FSFF's author has been poring over. Here are links to limited previews or listings of each of them on Google Books:

New freely accessible items:
Full list of freely accessible items:

Aaron Hillis at Cinephiliac;Darren Hughes at Long Pauses; David Lowery at Drifting; Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone & The Infield Fly Rule; .Dipanjan at Random Muses; Eric Henderson at When Canses Were Classeled; Filmbrain [Andrew Grant] at Like Anna Karina's Sweater; Matthew Clayfield at Esoteric Rabbit; Michael Guillen at The Evening Class; and Zach Campbell at Elusive Lucidity.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Making the meaning affective: Peter Brunette's film studies

Still image from the final shot of L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

 Luxuriating in the view over the Sicilian coast, the Mt. Etna volcano, and the Mediterranean sea here at the Taormina Film Festival. Oh yeah, and seeing some good films too!
Peter Brunette,  June 15, 2010

Rather than viewing the narrative content of Antonioni's films as symbolic, as representations of an absent meaning, [Peter] Brunette calls for an appreciation of the visual in and for itself, as meaning 'is made affective, through line, shape, and form' (60). Meaning emerges from the image, it is 'made affective'. Searching for authorial intent behind seemingly obvious symbols -- Brunette shows through the discrepancy between Antonioni's own suggestions and the contrasting critical reception of his films -- will inevitably say more about the critical frame employed, than the film itself. What Brunette is claiming is the loss of referent for the sign, the loss of signification. This links nicely to his deconstructive concern, which is itself indicative of the flaws in the existentialist debate. The absences that characteristically mark Antonioni's films (witness the vanishing Anna (Massari) in L'avventura) points not to a transcendental absence, but rather indicates the way out of the Platonic illusion of the coexisting Ideal and (vs) real. 'David Martin-Jones, '[Review of Brunette's book on Antonioni', Film-Philosophy, Volume 3 Number 50, December 1999
Katherine's exclamation [in Viaggio in Italia, Roberto Rossellini, 1954] is also emblematic of the death theme that permeates the film, and that culminates in the sequence so aptly described by Brunette in the following passage: "The parts begin to form themselves into a man and a woman; death has caught them making love, or at least wrapped tightly in each other's arms. Suddenly, the museum, the catacombs, and the Cumaean Sybil all come together in one startling image: the physicality and rawness of the ancient world, the ubiquity of death in life, and love, however inadequate and flawed, as the only possible solution". Asbjørn Grønstad, "The Gaze of Tiresias: Joyce, Rossellini and the Iconology of "The Dead"", Nordic Journal of English Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2002, citing Peter Brunette, Roberto Rossellini, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987, 1996)
In Peter Brunette and David Wills's much under-valued Screen/Play: Derrida and Film Theory [Princeton University Press, 1989] they discuss the form that a deconstructive mode of analysis might take. They write: 'From a deconstructive stand-point, analysis would no longer seek the supposed center of meaning but instead turn its attentions to the margins, where the supports of meaning are disclosed, to reading in and out of the text, examining the other texts onto which it opens itself out or from which it closes itself off'. [...] [I]t strikes me that a serious discussion of Brunette and Wills's book would be essential to any work purporting to discuss cinema and deconstructive politics.[...]  David Sorfa, Film-Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 23, 1998
A number of the tributes to film critic and scholar Peter Brunette, who died last week at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy,  conveyed very movingly their opinion that he left this world while doing what he loved.

Those of us who followed Peter's activities and travels, at least from the vantage point of his social media network, certainly loved his updates on them, like his final Facebook posting above. His death was a huge shock, and a great loss, notably to the two spheres -- film scholarship and theory, and film criticism -- that he managed to join up, much more successfully than most, through his own prolific practice (he gave an account of some of the issues at stake in this choice in an interview here, and Gerald Peary's obituary beautifully refers to his unusual trajectory, for an academic, here).

FSFF's author's acquaintance with Peter Brunette began with his 'director books' (listed with his other work in his CV here), and in particular with his marvellous study of the films of Roberto Rossellini, now one of the best freely accessible e-books online, thanks to Peter and his publishers. Peter was a fan and an important supporter of freely accessible culture and ideas on the Web, as this article he wrote in 2000 testifies.

Fortunately, a very good selection of other articles and chapters (and a substantial podcast) by him may be experienced at the click of a mouse, quite aside from the virtual reams of online movie criticism under his byline. That means that the following list of links to the former work - to Peter Brunette's formal film studies - is, then, the most fitting tribute that FSFF can give to a scholar who gave so much and influenced so many in his too short (or just long enough) life.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Godard, pour les francophones (without subtitles)

 Rencontre publique avec Jean-Luc Godard  
(the post-screening discussion begins 5 mins 30 secs in)

Thanks to Richard Brody at the New Yorker online, Film Studies For Free heard about the above videoed interview with Jean-Luc Godard. It took place last Friday (June 18), following a screening of his new work Film Socialisme, JLG answered questions for two hours.

It's unsubtitled but full of great moments. So  FSFF figured a quick blog post was in order to ensure that its francophone-Godard-fan readers don't miss the chance to see a quite frail but still brilliantly acute and witty Jean-Luc informing those present that, at the moment, Film Socialisme is indeed his last movie, but that so too, in its time, was A Bout de souffle/Breathless (1959).

Friday 18 June 2010

On Popular Memory and Third Cinema: the work of Teshome Gabriel

In 1974, Teshome Gabriel, who was at the time a [UCLA] Ph.D. student but who would later be widely credited with introducing Third Cinema theory to Euro-American film scholars with the publication of his 1982 dissertation, Third Cinema in the Third World: The Aesthetic of Liberation, organized a weekly Third World Film Club. Through 1976, the club screened the work of radical filmmakers mostly from Latin American and Africa including Miguel Littín (Chile), Jorge Sanjinés (Bolivia), Solanas and Getino (Argentina), and Ousmane Sembene (Senegal). The Los Angeles School was especially influenced by the classics of Cuban and Brazilian cinema including Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomas Gutierrez Alea, 1968), Lucía (Humberto Solás, 1968), The Last Supper (Gutierrez Alea, 1976), and the work of Nelson Pereira dos Santos (Brazil) and Glauber Rocha (Brazil), who, invited by Gabriel, visited UCLA in 1978.
 [Footnote 15: Teshome Gabriel’s importance should not be underestimated. In a recent assessment of Third Cinema, Anthony Guneratne refers to the appearance of Gabriel’s book as a “watershed,” “the first work in English to undertake a comprehensive exposition of Third Cinema theory in relation to the social and political situations it addressed.” See Guneratne and Dissanayake, Rethinking Third Cinema].
Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, The Ethnic Turn: Studies in Political Cinema from Brazil and the United States, 1960-2002, 2009, p. 150 (hyperlinks added by FSFF)
Official history tends to arrest the future by means of the past. Historians privilege the written word of the text - it serves as their rule of law. It claims a "center" which continuously marginalizes others. In this way its ideology inhibits people from constructing their own history or histories.
     Popular memory, on the other hand, considers the past as a political issue. It orders the past not only as a reference point but also as a theme of struggle. For popular memory, there are  no longer any "centers" or "margins," since the very designations imply that something has been conveniently left out.
     Popular memory, then, is neither a retreat to some great tradition nor a flight to some imagined "ivory tower," neither a self-indulgent escapism, nor a desire for the actual "experience" or "content" of the past for its own sake. Rather, it is a "look back to the future," necessarily dissident and partisan, wedded to constant change.
Teshome H. Gabriel, “Third Cinema as Guardian of Popular Memory: Towards a Third Aesthetics.” Questions of Third Cinema. Ed. Jim Pines and Paul Willemen. London: British Film Institute, 1989. 53-64
A study of style alone will not engender meaning ... Style is only meaningful in the context of its use - in how it acts on culture and helps to illuminate the ideology within.
Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: An Aesthetic of Liberation (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982) p. 41 
[T]he principle characteristic of Third Cinema is really not so much where it is made, or even who makes it, but, rather, the ideology it espouses and the consciousness it displays. In one word we might not be far from the truth when we claim the Third Cinema (as) the cinema of the Third World which stands opposed to imperialism and class oppression in all their ramifications and manifestations.
Teshome Gabriel, Third Cinema in the Third World: An Aesthetic of Liberation (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982) p. 2
Film Studies For Free was very sad to report in a post yesterday that Teshome Gabriel, one of the activist founders of the critical discourses and practices of Third Cinema and popular memory, and a much loved and respected film professor at one of the finest film schools in the world, had passed away. FSFF has devoted a number of entries to online and openly accessible resources on Third Cinema in the past. Today's tribute post focuses on links to online and free to access works either by Professor Gabriel or ones which have been heavily informed by his work.

By Teshome Gabriel:
Informed by the work of Teshome Gabriel:
Other Useful Resources: 

Thursday 17 June 2010

R.I.P. Peter Brunette and Teshome Gabriel: online tributes

Last updated June 24, 2010
Teshome Gabriel, 1939-2010

Peter Brunette, 1943-2010

Film Studies has lost two of its giants.

On Monday, Professor Teshome Gabriel of UCLA, a leading theorist and scholar of African, Third and Third World Cinema, and memory and cinema, passed away in Los Angeles.

And, just yesterday, Peter Brunette, Reynolds Professor of Film Studies at Wake Forest University, author of important books on film theory, Italian cinema and the work of individual film directors, and a very well-known and popular film critic, died while in attendance at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy.

Film Studies For free will post full, individual, tributes of its own to each of these scholars very shortly, but in the meantime is gathering together, below, a list of links to some of the online tributes to both men. If you know of any you would like to see included, please email FSFF, or link to them in the comments section of this post.

The author of this blog would like to pass on her sincere condolences to the families and friends of both men.

Tributes to Teshome Gabriel

Tributes to Peter Brunette

Wednesday 16 June 2010

More Film Authorship Studies: Romero, Welles, Portillo, Mamet, and the studio system

Film Studies For Free brings you some more great essays on film authorship (a favourite topic at this here blog), following the serendipitous discovery that a special issue on that subject by the (normally) subscription only periodical The Velvet Light Trap was chosen to be that journal's free online sample.

Do also check out FSFF's earlier related posts if this is a topic of particular interest: On Auteurism and Film Authorship Theories, film authorship Orson Welles