Wednesday 22 February 2012

Pandora's Box? On Digital Conversions and Rebirths

Open Lecture and Workshop by FSFF's very own author
First of all, Film Studies For Free wanted to toot on its own trumpet today.

On Friday, its author will present at an event exploring the rapidly increasing take up in scholarly and online film studies of the distinct research methods of the digital humanities.

In the lecture that will open the event, she will explore whether and, if so, how these contexts and methods with their digital, multimedia tools and techniques (such as online film and film culture archiving, mining and metrics, digital video essays, digital publishing and networking) may be enabling productive moves away from the existing paradigms of purely text-based, or 'traditional' offline research, scholarship and pedagogy.  The focus in the main workshop part of the event will be on the film studies video essay form, that is, on the practice of using film as the medium of its own study and criticism.

A written version of the talk will be published online later this year as part of a wide ranging edited collection, with contributions by world-leading scholars and critics, on related aspects of the same important topics. This collection, commissioned, assembled and guest-edited by FSFF's supremo, will form the inaugural issue of a brand new, Open Access journal hosted by a certain Film Studies department in one of the UK's oldest and most revered universities. FSFF will bring you more precise, less teasing, news of this in due course....

But, staying with the digital theme, today's FSFF post also brings you rather more immediately phenomenal news of and links to David Bordwell's recent and hugely important online series of studies of the transition to digital cinematic projection at his and Kristin Thompson's peerless film studies website Observations on Film Art.

Not only are these unmissable discussions in their own right but they make themselves even more indispensable by linking to numerous further essential resources on these questions.

Below the list of links to these entries, for your convenience, FSFF has re-embedded the great videoed discussion of digital conversion issues in the film distribution and exhibition contexts at the Vancouver International Film Festival to which Bordwell and other luminaries contribute brilliantly.

  1. Pandora’s digital box: In the multiplex December 1, 2011 
  2. Pandora’s digital box: The last 35 picture show December 15, 2011 
  3. Pandora’s digital box: At the festival January 5, 2012 
  4. Pandora’s digital box: From the periphery to the center, or the one of many centers January 11, 2012
  5. Pandora’s digital box: Art house, smart house January 30, 2012
  6. Pandora’s digital box: Pix and pixels February 13, 2012
  7. Pandora’s digital box: Notes on NOCs [Network Operations Centers] February 16, 2012
  8. Pandora's digital box:from Films to Files February 28, 2012

                     Future of Cinema - Looking Forward After 30 Years

Future of Cinema - Looking Forward After 30 Years
Event description:

The first few chapter headings in a film we did not program at this year's [Vancouver International Film Festival] VIFF are: “Technology Is Great”, “The Industry Is Dead”, “Artists Have the Power”, and “The Craft Is Gone.” To which celluloid-loving film festival organizers might ask: Is it? Do they? Where on earth are we headed? And why?
VIFF has come a long way in its 30 years and never has the future of cinema--and VIFF's future--been more uncertain. Will it be bright and splendid and fair or will it move so quickly that a great deal of what is valuable will be lost before we know it? There are now dramatically more “film festivals” and “films” being made than ever, yet some fear that the industry may be dead. Filmmakers are acutely worried for funding, yet need to operate on a growing number of fronts. Given that the numbers of hours in a day and the numbers of days in a life remain fixed, what limits should we council for our own appetites? Why might we miss the Hollywood Theatre and Videomatica? Given that cultural agencies seemingly have shrinking resources but more new media and film festival applicants every year, will the centres hold or is babble ascendant? Will VIFF's function as an annual international universalist festival be superseded by myriad niche events?

Technology is indeed great in that it has put the means of creative motion picture production in almost everyone's hands, but will the best artists be the ones to be recognized? The entrepreneurial spirit tends to favour change in hopes that it may profit from it, but will artists have the power? When entrepreneurs benefit, will consumers benefit? Will cultural institutions that have taken years to build remain viable? Will cinema, metrics of quality and craftsmanship and, ultimately, quality of life be improved or even be sustainable? What do you personally care about for the future of cinema to offer? What should
VIFF 2020 aim to be?

Here to wrestle with these sorts of questions—and yours—will be a distinguished group of panellists including: David Bordwell, film critic, academic and author of numerous books on cinema; Simon Field, film producer and former Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam; Andréa Picard, film critic and programmer, formerly of the Toronto International Film Festival and the Cinémathèque Ontario; Tom Charity, film critic and Vancity Theatre program coordinator; and Alan Franey, director, Vancouver International Film Festival.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

New issue of ALPHAVILLE on the representation of space and time in cinema

Screenshot from Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993). Read Elise Pezzotta's article on the concept of personal time in this and other films.
As film scholars, we must constantly return to the cinematic production and manipulation of space and time to reassess how it is affected by our changing perception of the ontologies of space and time and, conversely, how our understanding of these physical concepts in cinema alters our spatio-temporal awareness in the real world. The advent of digital technology, with its formal atemporality and virtual space, presents a further radical challenge to our understanding of these categories, adding another layer of complexity to an already complex topic. [Alphaville Editors’ Note by Marian Hurley, Deborah Mellamphy and Jill Moriarty]
Film Studies For Free is delighted to note for its readers that Issue 2 of Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media is now online.

This special issue, edited by postdoctoral and doctoral students at University College Cork, focuses on the representation of space and time in cinema. Its excellent articles employ a wide range of methodological approaches and arguments to investigate cinematic spatiotemporal relationships, more than ably demonstrating how these concepts continue to engage and stimulate film scholars.

FSFF particularly liked Sergeant on The Wizard of Oz, Laist on The Matrix, Wortel on post-heritage cinema (see also her great, 2008 PhD thesis Textures of Time: A Study of Cinematic Sensations of Anachronism), as well as Pezzota on alternative and time travel narrative.

Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media Issue 2: Space and Time in Cinema



Book Reviews and Festival and Conference Reports (Edited by Jill Murphy)

Issue 3, Summer 2012, Sound, Voice, Music.

Issue 4, Winter 2012, Open Submission


Tuesday 14 February 2012

Spectators of our Lives: Alexander Kluge Studies on his 80th Birthday

If I feel myself as the producer of my life, then I am unhappy. So I would rather be a spectator of my life. I would rather change my life this way since I cannot change it in society. So at night I see films that are different from my experiences during the day. Thus there is a strict separation between experience and the cinema. That is the obstacle for our films. For we are people of the 60s, and we do not believe in the opposition between experience and fiction. –- Alexander Kluge, 1988  [cited by Jonathan Rosenbaum]

It's Alexander Kluge's 80th birthday and Film Studies For Free is delighted to celebrate his astonishing and hugely important career with its own little e-festschrift of scholarly links - see below.

If you love and value Kluge's films as much as FSFF does, you'll want to read the fine post that David Hudson has composed in the German filmmaker's honour at the MUBI Notebook full of fascinating online reading, including news of Kluge's latest book out, Das fünfte Buch - Neue Lebensläufe. 402 Geschichten.

FSFF's own assembly, from the great video above to the list of written studies below, contains links to the contents of a fabulous new openly accessible book on Kluge's work -- one of the best edited (by Tara Forrest) collections FSFF has ever had the pleasure of reading -- which has just been published by the fantastic scholars at Amsterdam University Press.

Friday 10 February 2012

The Legions of the Lost: Michael Klinger and the role of the film producer in the British film industry 1960-1980

Framegrab from Repulsion (directed by Roman Polanski and executive produced by Michael Klinger [uncredited], 1965)
During the 1970s, a period of economic decline, admissions to cinemas were down, there was a lack of public investment in the film industry and the Hollywood studios had pulled out of investing in British films. Despite this, Michael Klinger made 13 successful films [including ] Polanski's Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-Sac (1966)] - he was the only consistently profitable indigenous producer in this decade - yet very little critical acclaim has been given to him. Film studies tends to focus on the director as having the main creative role, yet in the case of Michael Klinger, he was involved in all aspects of film-making, including casting, the writing of the screenplay and editing. [Andrew Spicer
Although Michael Klinger was the most successful independent producer in the 1970s, he has become one of the legions of the lost in British cinema. This occlusion, is symptomatic of the neglect of the producer's role within British cinema studies (and within Film Studies in general [...]), which, in Alexander Walker's deft formulation, 'has to be resisted if films are to make sense as an industry that can sometimes create art' [Walker, Alexander, Hollywood, England: The British Film Industry in the Sixties, London: Harrap, 1986 [1974]] p. 17). [Andrew Spicer, 'The Creative Producer – The Michael Klinger Papers', Paper Given at the University of Stirling Conference, Archives and Auteurs - Filmmakers and their Archives, 2 - 4 September 2009].

Film Studies For Free rushes you news of the announcement that the website for the research project on Michael Klinger and the role of the film producer in the British film industry 1960-1980 is now live. It contains a comprehensive catalogue of the Klinger papers housed at the University of the West of England as well as details about the project, images, selected documents, interviews, events and some excellent, openly accessible publications.

You can read a great overview of Klinger's life and career here and an informative press release about the initial research project may be found here.

Andrew Spicer, Reader in Cultural History at UWE and the project's Principal Investigator, and research associate Anthony McKenna would be very pleased to receive any feedback about the site and suggestions as to how it might be developed. They hope it will prove useful and informative and be the spur to other studies of producers. 

FSFF is absolutely certain that this project will be generative of further valuable work on film producers and it hopes its readers will join it in congratulating Spicer and McKenna on such a successful and, just as importantly, successfully shared project.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

The Seventh Art: a video magazine about cinema

The Seventh Art: Issue 1, Section 2. A video essay on surveillance camera cinema: films made entirely out of surveillance camera footage. Essay written and edited by Christopher Heron and narrated by Amy Cunningham.

Film Studies For Free today brings you very glad tidings of The Seventh Art, an innovative, independently produced video magazine about cinema. It's of decidedly scholarly, as well as of general, interest.

The magazine will regularly have three sections:
  1. A brief profile of an interesting group/company/organization in the film industry (in Issue 1, there's discussion of the distribution company FilmsWeLike with its founder, filmmaker Ron Mann [In the Wake of the Flood, Comic Book Confidential]);
  2. A video essay (as embedded above);
  3. A long-form interview with a filmmaker (in this first issue, there's a substantial interview with Guy Maddin [Keyhole, My Winnipeg]) .
Given the quality of the first instalment, FSFF thinks it's going to be highly worthwhile following all future developments and offerings at The Seventh Art. So do make sure to keep a surveillant eye on its Facebook page (where you can access bonus video supplements), as well on its Twitter feed.

For more on Surveillance Film Studies do check out, if you haven't already, FSFF's very own scholarly links list.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

FSFF with added pizazz?

Out with the not so old... Adieu Faye Wong. Thanks for everything!
Film Studies For Free, self-declared emperor of scholarly film studies links aggregating websites based in the nicest of the UK home counties, has new clothes...

Yes, it has opted for relative nakedness! Not for the stylish nudity of the dynamic views option that it contemplated a short while back. That wouldn't have allowed it to continue with its sidebar menus. But for the openness, plainness and gorgeous simplicity of a midnight blue banner (inspired by Jake Gyllenhaal's eyes and Ang Lee and Rodrigo Prieto's colour palette...) against a vast snowy expanse of hexadecimal white.

FSFF's rhetoric continues, however, to be over-dressed.

A few more design tweaks, here and there, are still necessary, but FSFF has already had lots of, so far entirely positive, feedback on the new look at Twitter and Facebook. It hopes that all of its readers will find the visuals work for them. To that end, any further feedback will be very welcome.

One matter to note: by far the best two ways to search this blog are to use the search box at the top left-hand corner of your screen, or to employ the 'find on page' tool in your web browser - the latter will help you locate appropriate FSFF tags out of the hundreds of these stored at the foot of the page.

Monday 6 February 2012 Needs You!

By Tom McDonald (2010): a reading and discussion of the concepts of movement-image and time-image as developed in the work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

Film Studies For Free is delighted to be able to introduce its readers to, a valuable, new, free, online resource for students, scholars and researchers run by those wonderful Film Studies folk at the University of St Andrews.
It is a database designed to facilitate ease of access to international networking and collaboration amongst people interested in Gilles Deleuze and cinema. The site contains a database of people and resources related to Deleuze and cinema (including TV, new media and visual culture). It enables discussion of topics of interest to its members, and disseminates announcements and news items.

The site is open access and its content available to everyone. Registered users can contribute content, build a profile for themselves, enter discussion, or post news items. We welcome participation from people all over the world in any language.

The updating of content relies on registered contributors adding information about ongoing work on Deleuze and cinema (their own work, or the work of others). We hope that those who are interested will join us! [site co-editor, David Martin-Jones]
So, Deleuzians (and Deleuzo-Guattarians) please join the fabulous, scholarly Crowd Sourcerors at! And also please feel free to enter, or revisit, all of the manifold Deleuze links that FSFF has gathered over the ages: one dedicated list of resources, numerous other Deleuze-filled postings, and even its latest link to philosopher Tom McDonald's brilliant video above.


Friday 3 February 2012

Seven Great Film Studies PhD Theses from the University of Edinburgh

Framegrab from Jeux interdits/Forbidden Games (René Clément, 1952)
The classically idyllic, carefree world of childhood would appear to be diametrically opposed to the horrors of war and world-wide conflict. However, throughout film history, filmmakers have continually turned to the figure of the child as a prism through which to examine the devastation caused by war.
This thesis will investigate the representation of childhood experience of the Second World War across six fiction films: Roberto Rossellini’s Paisan (1946) and Germany Year Zero (1947), René Clément’s Forbidden Games (1952), Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Jan Nemec’s Diamonds of the Night (1964) and Elem Klimov’s Come and See (1985). [Pasquale Iannone, Childhood and the Second World War in the European fiction film PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2011: 11; hyperlinks added by FSFF]
Film Studies For Free went a-hunting at the research repository at the University of Edinburgh and found that seven great full-text PhD theses have been archived there.

Each of these works of original research has a huge amount to offer any student of cinema, and so it's really great that their authors and their university have made them publicly available online.

FSFF hopes its readers will join it in saluting them!

Thursday 2 February 2012

Voyage to Cinema: Studies of the Work of Theo Angelopoulos

Framegrabs from Ταξίδι στα Κύθηρα/Voyage to Cythera ( Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1984)
The world needs cinema now more than ever. [Theo Angelopoulos, cited by Andrew Horton]
Realism? Me? I’ve not a damn thing to do with it. The religious attitude to reality has never concerned me. [Theo Angelopoulos, cited by Raymond Durgnat in “The Long Take in Voyage to Cythera: Brecht and Marx vs. Bazin and God.” Film Comment 26.6 (November/December, 1990): 43-46]
[Some] complain that Angelopoulos’ films are long, slow and boring, but that is exactly what they are not. They are too short (for the subject matters they cover [...]), quite fast (within the image or sound or the narrative, there is always something occurring) and always fascinating (in the multi-layered way they mix the personal with the political, the aesthetic surface with the deeper meaning, etc.). [Bill Mousoulis, "Angelopoulos’ Gaze', Senses of Cinema, Issue 9, 2000]
What is important, what has meaning, is the journey... [and] journeys are through history as well as through a landscape. [Theo Angelopoulos, quoted in Andrew Horton, The Films of Theo Angelopoulos: A Cinema of Contemplation, 1997: 98]
Today, Film Studies For Free solemnly pays tribute to the monumental cinematic career of Greek director Theo Angelopoulos, who very sadly died last week while near the set of his film The Other Sea.

David Hudson has collected a wonderful series of links to items of interest to anyone who has been touched by or is studying Angelopoulos's films. Below, as is its memorialising wont, FSFF points its readers in the online direction of a whole host of high quality academic studies of his work, including a number of freely-accessible, book-length items.