>Paranormal cinematic activity: ghost film studies


Latest update: April 27, 2010

 Publicity still for The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961). See an excerpt from this film in Nicolas Rapold and Matt Zoller Seitz‘s L Magazine video essay ‘Bad Seeds: Creepy Kids on Film’, embedded towards the foot of this entry

Film Studies For Free has gone and spooked itself, today, with its own scary persistence in compiling a list of links to openly accessible, online, scholarly articles, chapters and theses on international ghost film studies. Oh, and there are two related video essays lurking at the bottom to scare the scholarly bejesus out of you for good measure, too (added April 27) .
Like all the best posts at this blog (IOHO), the list below owes its hefty materiality to its connections with FSFF‘s author‘s own (hauntological) research, some of which, hopefully, will be directly shared with her fearless readers very shortly. So do please be a revenant, won’t you?

    >Cinema at the Periphery: world cinema studies articles and videos


    Sequence from Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, featuring Samantha Morton as Morvern and the psychedelic song ‘Some Velvet Morning’ written by Lee Hazlewood in 1967 and performed by Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra (for more on Ramsay’s great film, see Scott Tobias, ‘The New Cult Canon: Morvern Callar‘, The A.V. Club, February 27, 2008; as well as John Caughie, ‘The Angel’s Share: Morvern Callar and the Difficulty of Art Cinema’, video also linked to below)

    With Spring (and a spring) in its step, Film Studies For Free brings you a whole, golden, host of articles as well as little video tasters to the work of some of the world’s leading film scholars on the topic of international (and/or ‘interstitial‘, or ‘transnational‘, or ‘peripheral‘) cinema.

    The videos are recordings of presentations from the Cinema at the Periphery conference held at the University of St Andrews between June 15th and June 17th 2006. While those external to that university can only see the first ten minutes of each presentation, they’re still very informative, and showcase, in miniature at least, some brilliant film studies research.

    They’ve been newly publicised on the occasion of the publication of the conference book Cinema at the Periphery by Wayne State University Press, part of its series on Contemporary Approaches to Film and Television, under the general editorship of Barry Keith Grant. The book is edited by Dina Iordanova, David Martin-Jones, and Belén Vidal.

    As FSFF always endeavours to add value to the free resources it links to, it decided also to assemble an accompanying list of related, high quality, freely accessible, online articles:

    The clips can be viewed using Quicktime player 7, VLC player or similar MP4 player. Just click on the pictures to access.
    The clips are currently set to stream at a quality of medium (512Kbps) – they are also available to watch as low (56Kbps) or high (2Mbps)

    Dina Iordanova and Keith Brown
    Dina Iordanova and Keith Brown

    University of St Andrews
    “Introduction and welcome”
    (8min 16sec)
    Mette Hjort
    Mette Hjort

    Lignan University, Hong Kong
    “Homophilic Transnationalism: The ‘Advance Party’ Initiative”
    Rod Stoneman
    Rod Stoneman

    Huston School of Film & Digital Media, Galway, Ireland
    “Dimpsey at the Edge”
    Duncan Petrie
    Duncan Petrie

    University of Auckland, New Zealand
    “Small National Cinemas in an Era of Globalisation”

    Sheldon Lu
    Sheldon Lu

    University of California at Davis, USA
    “Emerging from Underground and the Periphery: Independent Cinema in Contemporary China”
    Lucia Nagib
    Lucia Nagib

    Leeds University, UK
    “Japanese Cinema and Local Modernity”
    Laura U. Marks
    Laura U. Marks

    Simon Fraser University, Canada
    “Geopolitics Hides Something in the Image; Arab Cinema Unfolds Something Else”
    Faye Ginsburg
    Faye Ginsburg

    New York University, USA
    “Black Screens and Cultural Citizenship”

    Dudley Andrew
    Dudley Andrew

    Yale University, USA
    “Turbulent Waves, Stagnant Seas: Awash in World Cinema”
    Bill Marshall
    Bill Marshall

    University of Glasgow, UK
    “Deleuze, Quebec and Cinemas of Minor Frenchness”
    John Caughie
    John Caughie

    University of Glasgow, UK
    “The Angel’s Share: Morvern Callar and the Difficulty of Art Cinema”
    Pam Cook
    Pam Cook

    University of Southampton, UK
    “Out from Down Under: Baz Luhrmann and Australian Cinema”

    Patricia Pisters
    Patricia Pisters

    University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
    “Filming Tanger: Migratory Identities in North Africa”
    Hamid Naficy
    Hamid Naficy

    Rice University, USA
    “Interstitial, Transnational, and National-Iranian Silent Cinema”
    Kristian Feigelson
    Kristian Feigelson

    Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, France
    “A Visual Map of the Film World”

    >Audiovisual Thinking: Online Video Journal about Audiovisuality, Communication & Media


    Film Studies For Free predicted at the beginning of this year that 2010 would be the year of the video essay. And thus it has come to pass… Woohoo!

    Audiovisual Thinking — an online video journal about “audiovisuality, communication and media” — has just launched and it looks to FSFF to be a very worthwhile venture indeed. All relevant information has been pasted in below to tempt you to the excellent AT website. There are lots of introductory videos embedded there which will inform you audiovisually about the Audiovisual Thinking ethos.

    Audiovisual Thinking has issued its first call for videos for its first proper issue which will explore the “legacy and merit of the use of audiovisual material in academic thinking, research and teaching, in the past, present and in the future” (deadline: June 15, 2010; do note: according to the submission form (as of April 22) the videos should be no longer than seven minutes and a maximum of [an as yet quite tiny] 10 Mb [Update: The editors reported to FSFF that they are working on achieving a larger, automated, upload volume. If you have larger submissions, these can be uploaded manually, so just get in touch with the editors via the website’s contact page].

    If you don’t yet completely understand why FSFF is so pleased with this development, you should check out the following propaganda piece that it published last July: Video Essays on Films: A Multiprotagonist Manifesto. Also, do have a peruse of all the video essays embedded at FSFF, including this little one we prepared earlier (sadly, it’s just a little longer than seven minutes and larger than 10Mb or 100Mb…).

    About Audiovisual Thinking

    Audiovisual Thinking is a pioneering forum where academics and educators can articulate, conceptualize and disseminate their research about audiovisuality and audiovisual culture through the medium of video.
         International in scope and multidisciplinary in approach, the purpose of Audiovisual Thinking is to develop and promote academic thinking in and about all aspects of audiovisuality and audiovisual culture.
        Advised by a board of leading academics and thinkers in the fields of audiovisuality, communication and the media, the journal seeks to set the standard for academic audiovisual essays now and in the future.

        Video submissions are welcome from all fields of study and, as one would expect, the main criteria for submissions are that the discussion and thinking are conveyed through audiovisual means.

    Each issue of Audiovisual Thinking will call for and then showcase academic videos around a specific theme within audiovisual culture and the media. The journal also accepts ‘opinion’ or ‘reflective’ audiovisual pieces on any area of audiovisual research or pedagogy. 
        Submissions are welcome from the areas of the Arts, Journalism, Media and Communication studies, as well as Education and the Social Sciences where audiovisual material is routinely used, or is gaining ground, as an academic research tool or teaching method.
         This first issue will explore the legacy of audiovisual content in contemporary academic research and thinking. Submit your video here.

    >BFI Researchers’ Tales: Mulvey, Dyer, Kubrick, Frayling


     Image of Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

    For some time now, Film Studies For Free has been enjoying the videos that the British Film Institute has been posting at BFI Live, its online video channel exploring film and TV culture. There are lots of videos worth seeing at the site but, below, FSFF has singled out and directly linked to some which are especially deserving of the attention of film scholars.

    Laura Mulvey on the Blonde

    8 Mar 2010: The world-renowned film theorist presents her thoughts on the Hitchcock Blonde.

    Researchers' Tales: Richard Dyer

    8 Mar 2010: The writer and academic discusses his instrumental role in the creation of the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious celebrations of queer cinema.

    Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made? (Part 1)

    13 Jan 2010: An illustrated lecture on Stanley Kubrick’s most ambitious yet unrealised project.

    Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made? (Part 2)

    11 Jan 2010: An onstage discussion of the finer points of Stanley Kubrick’s failed production.

    Researchers' Tales: Sir Christopher Frayling on Spaghetti Westerns

    14 Dec 2009: Eminent academic and writer Sir Christopher Frayling discusses the Spaghetti Western genre as part of the BFI National Library’s Researcher’s Tales strand.

    Researchers' Tales: Sir Christopher Frayling on Film Research

    14 Dec 2009: Eminent educationalist and writer Sir Christopher Frayling discusses the practice of researching film.

    >Seeing the join: on film editing


    In memoriam Dede Allen  
    (December 3, 1923 – April 17, 2010)
    The below entry was originally published the day before Dede Allen died. Allen was the highly innovative editor of such notable films as Bonnie and Clyde, The Hustler, Rachel, Rachel, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Night Moves, Slap Shot, Reds, The Breakfast Club and Henry and June

    Dissolve by Aaron Valdez (2003): “Found footage film constructed of hundreds of dissolves taken from old educational films and reassembled to create a meditation on our own impermanence”. 

    Film Studies For Free presents a much requested links list today, one to openly accessible, high quality scholarly studies of film editing. Without further ado, let’s jump cut straight to it:

    • ‘The Art of Film Editing’, Special Issue of P.O.V: A Danish Journal of Film Studies, edited by Richard Raskin, Number 6 December 1998 – PDF containing:
      • Søren Kolstrup, ‘The notion of editing’   
      • Sidsel Mundal, ‘Notes of an editing teacher’  
      • Mark Le Fanu, ‘On editing’
      • Vinca Wiedemann, ‘Film editing – a hidden art?’
      • Edvin Kau, ‘Separation or combination of fragments? Reflections on editing’
      • Lars Bo Kimersgaard, ‘Editing in the depth of the surface. Some basic principles of graphic editing’
      • Martin Weinreich, ‘The urban inferno. On the æsthetics of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver
      • Scott MacKenzie, ‘Closing arias: Operatic montage in the closing sequences of the trilogies of Coppola and Leone’
      • Claus Christensen, ‘A vast edifice of memories: the cyclical cinema of Terence Davies’,
      • Richard Raskin, ‘Five explanations for the jump cuts in Godard’s Breathless

      >La Science de Michel Gondry: online scholarship on his films & videos


      Last updated April 19, 2010
      Electric Dreams? Above and below, images from Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry, 2008)

      Film Studies For Free presents un petit hommage — en images, hypertexte, et vidéos —to one of its favourite filmmakers, Michel Gondry, French maestro of the music-video form, and also responsible, as director, for the audiovisual brilliance of the following films: Human Nature (2001); Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004); La Science des rêves/The Science of Sleep (2006); Be Kind Rewind (2008); and The Green Hornet (2010).

      There are some truly wonderful scholarly resources linked to below: merci bien, as ever, to their authors, editors and publishers for making them freely accessible online.

       The original music video of Gary Jules‘ and Michael Andrews‘ cover version of Tears for Fears‘ song Mad World, directed by Michel Gondry. This song features in the soundtrack of Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)

      >Kinocultura: on Russian, Russo-Soviet, Eastern European, & Central Asian cinemas & television


      Excerpt from the beginning of Nastroishchik/The Tuner (Kira Muratova, Russia/Ukraine, 2004)
      Muratova’s tight and intricate narrative is punctuated by familiar cinematic devices, red herrings, and pranks immediately identifiable—even beyond cinema production—with Muratova’s sui generic style. [F]irst, her inclusion of a “cultural intermezzo” by an amateur artist-enthusiast.  […]  In The Tuner, this device takes the form of a girl singer-songwriter performing on public transport and a number of other charmingly inept musicians (a clarinetist, two tuba players, random, elderly singers, and Andrei’s spontaneous “Uzbek” improvisation).  This is the utopian dimension of Muratova’s creative act: irredeemably unprofessional, yet utterly complete, self-sufficient in itself, the flawless conjuration of an inner hallucination. Nancy Condee, ‘Kira Muratova, The Tuner [Nastroishchik] (2004)’, Kinocultura, Issue 7  January 2005

      Film Studies For Free was alerted yesterday by David Hudson at The Auteurs Daily that the April 2010 issue of Kinocultura, the Open Access journal of New Russian Cinema, had just been published online.  

      This journal has been appearing since July 2003, and that simple fact makes for a true wealth of freely accessible scholarly resources. With its editorial board of leading scholars in this field, Kinocultura is quite simply one of the best film studies e-journals, with its incredibly wide-ranging scholarly articles alongside wonderful film and book reviews and dossiers/reports/roundtable discussions/videos.  

      Below, FSFF has copied and pasted in the index of all full-length articles and interviews published by the journal to date. Here also is a list of Kinocultura’s special issues on particular countries:#1 Central Asia (2004); #2 Poland (2005); #3 Slovakia (2005); #4 Czech Rep. (2006); #5 Bulgaria (2006); #6 Romania (2007); #7 Hungary (2008); #8 Serbia (2009); #9 Ukraine (2009); #10 Estonia (2010). Note that there are forthcoming issues on Kazakhstan and Croatia.
      Those of you interested in Russian and Soviet film studies should also know about the following great, online bibliography, too: University of Pittsburgh Russian and Soviet Cinema.

      Kinocultura – Issue 28: April 2010

      Festival Report

      Issue 27: January 2010

      Festival Reports

      AAASS 2009 Roundtable on Young Kazakh Cinema

      Issue 26: October 2009

      Festival Reports

      Issue 25: July 2009

      Issue 24: April 2009

      Festival Report:

      Issue 23: January 2009

      Festival Reports:

      Issue 22: October 2008

      Issue 21: July 2008
      Pittsburgh Russian Film Symposium 2008 — The Ideological Occult: Russian Cinema under Putin:

      Issue 20: April 2008

      Issue 19: January 2008

      Issue 18: October 2007

      • Tom Birchenough: “Vladivostok 2007“: The lnternational Pacific Meridian Festival

      Issue 17: July 2007
      Melodrama and Kino-Ideology: Pittsburgh Russian Film Symposium Roundtable:

      Issue 16: April 2007

      Issue 15: January 2007

      Issue 14: October 2006

      Issue 13: July 2006

      Issue 12: April 2006

      Russian TV-Serials: AAASS Roundtable 2005: “Russian TV: Past Issues of Present Concern”

      Issue 11: January 2006

      Issue 10: October 2005

      Issue 9: July 2005

      Issue 8: April 2005

      Issue 7: January 2005

      Issue 6: October 2004
      “National Cinema”: Pittsburgh Film Colloquium roundtable featuring:  

      Moscow International Film Festival 2004 : Susan Larsen: At the Intersection of Art, Commerce, and National Pride  

      Issue 5:  July 2004

      Issue 4:  April 2004

      Issue 3:  January 2004

      Issue 1:  July 2003

      >The thrill of transcendence: Kathryn Bigelow Studies


      Updated with video and new links on April 12, 2010
      Jamie Lee Curtis as Megan Turner in Blue Steel (Kathryn Bigelow, 1990)

      [Kathryn] Bigelow’s earliest works are often radical experiments with genres—combinatory, subtractive, subversive, offering a tool for crafting a mode of vital self-reflexive cinema in which the spectator becomes a thrill junkie, like the restless characters in Bigelow’s films. Ultimately, however, the raw exhilaration experienced by Bigelow’s characters must end so they can come to terms with reality and the laws—be they legal or gravitational—that anchor them to society. The later films show an interest in group dynamics as a form of politics or, perhaps, as an ideal of social living contained but not determined by politics. The turning point between these two parts of Bigelow’s career is Strange Days, whose protagonist attempts to wean himself off his addiction to spectacle in order to face the violence of his urban surroundings.
           This is the double bind Bigelow investigates: while thrill is ultimately an alienating form of individualism, the “real world” tends to be a trap, whether confining or merely banal. While Bigelow’s films reveal genre cinema’s promise of glossy escapism to be a dead end, they also pointedly argue that re-engagement with community is tantamount to conformity. One possible escape is offered to Bigelow’s protagonists by seeking out those extreme situations on the bohemian, criminal and physically fraught margins of society, where the rules can be broken and the self fleetingly transcended. Kathryn Bigelow, ‘Filmmaking at the Dark Edge of Exhilaration’, Harvard Film Archive, 2009

      A little while back, Film Studies For Free promised a list of links to openly accessible scholarly essays on the work of filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, recent recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director for Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker (2009; see that film’s Press Kit/Production Notes). And now FSFF‘s Bigelow Study Day has finally arrived – maybe not its longest links list ever, but one full of highest quality material nonetheless. The links follow the wonderful embedded video ‘Outlaw Vision: Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker’ created for The L Magazine by

          >Studies of censorship and cinema: in solidarity with Jafar Panahi


          Image from Dayereh/The Circle (Jafar Panahi, 2000)

          Film Studies For Free brings you a list of direct links to valuable and noteworthy scholarly material on the frequently iniquitous, and certainly far from just academic, subject of censorship and the cinema. 

          Today’s list is brought to you in solidarity with Jafar Panahi, the Iranian filmmaker who, on March 1, was arrested and imprisoned (reportedly at present in solitary confinement) ‘apparently while working on a film that, rightly or wrongly, the authorities understood to be “anti-state.”’

          As Vadim Rizov wrote for the IFC website:

          Panahi’s brilliant series of films from 1995’s “The White Balloon” (his first feature) onwards have steadily ramped up the contentiousness. After “Balloon” and “The Mirror,” Panahi ditched children altogether (normally the standard way of avoiding censorship) and began focusing on adults — specifically, those damaged and abused by society. “The Circle” and “Offside” focus on women (enough said), and “Crimson Gold” manages to indict an entire society through the desperation of one pizza-delivery guy. Observing from a chilly distance, Panahi gives the disenfranchised a voice in the traditional visual language of the contemporary arthouse film — until, all of a sudden, he’s in the same spot as the people he’s filming. What makes Panahi brilliant (and dangerous to the regime) is that he’s a visceral filmmaker above all, in his masterful feel for the hustle of urban Iran.

          To find out more about the campaign to free Panahi and other political figures imprisoned in the aftermath of the Iranian elections, do follow the links in Jeffrey Overstreet’s post for Filmwell; also check out the Free Jafar Panahi Facebook group; visit the Our Society Will Be a Free Society: Campaign to free imprisoned writers and journalists in Iran website; or explore the website for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. If you would like to donate money to support the aims of the latter organisation, a direct donation link is right here (thanks to the Self-Styled Siren for highlighting this link). You can also follow, as filmstudiesff does, the micro-bulletins (and blogs) of the brilliant US-based film and media studies academic Negar Mottahedeh via Twitter to keep up with events in Iran, along with academic and other responses to these.

          FSFF also wanted to publicise a related call by the Index on Censorship for short film submissions on ‘the subject of freedom of expression or censorship, dealing with issues or events from a unique perspective that is not often acknowledged’.  

          The call is on behalf of Index on Censorship, one of Britain’s leading organisations promoting freedom of expression and protection of human rights. We are currently in the process of curating a series of monthly EPIC short film nights with a focus on freedom of expression and censorship, in conjunction with English PEN at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon, London. The launch night for the event will be in mid-May, kicking off with a night of short films made by the Go Group in Georgia. You can find more information about the night here. If you do have a short film or documentary that you would like to be screened at one of these nights, email intern1@indexoncensorship.org with a short 100 word summary of your film, or a link to your video online and details of any charities/organisations that you are affiliated with. As Index on Censorship is a non-profit charity, we cannot offer any payment for the artists, just a platform and opportunity for new filmmakers to screen their film to a large public audience.

          >"Making films anyhow": On Glauber Rocha’s DIY cinema


          Terra em Transe/Entranced Earth (Glauber Rocha, 1967)

          Glauber said more: “We are going to make our films anyhow: with handheld cameras, in 16mm if there is no 35mm, improvising in the street to get people’s true gestures”; “..a cinema on the basis of whatever means are possible, at low cost and in a short time”; “..a political cinema that intends to inform not by logic, but by poetics.”

          Making films anyhow. Not making films anyhow. In fact, filming with a hand-held camera revealing its nervous presence in the scene more than the scene itself properly speaking, was not a way of simplifying and impoverishing cinematographic writing, but a creative intervention to make it more complex and rich. Glauber’s Earth Entranced (Terra em Transe, 1967) is a good example, the scene improvised, not because it had not been thought through properly beforehand in the screenplay, but because it continued being thought through there in the shooting; the image tremulous; not because of any failure or lack of skill on the part of the photographer, but because at that time reality was being discussed like that in speech, nervous and tremulous.

          In fact, this cinema, with an idea in its head and a camera in its hand, enriched the speech of itself. It helped people think of screenplays as a challenge to shooting, of shooting as a response to the challenge of the screenplay, of the camera as a challenge to the eye. It helped people think of cinema as an expression finished, on the screen and, at the same time, unfinished, just in the imagination, part of a process that does not end with the film on the screen; it helped people think of film as a work print, a not yet finished print for the spectator to clean up and bring order to; cinema as an inventor and stimulator of images.

          José Carlos Avellar, ‘Writing the Speech’, FIPRESCI, 2006

          The links list offered up today is Film Studies For Free‘s customary tribute to Glauber Rocha, a political and aesthetic leader of the Cinema Novo movement which emerged in Brazil in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

          Known above all for the trio of films Deus e o diabo na terra do sol (Black God, White Devil, 1964), Terra em transe (Earth Entranced/Land in Anguish, 1967), and O dragão da maldade contra o santo guerreiro (Antonio das Mortes, 1969), the latter about a legendary gunman hired to kill a group of rebelling peasants, Glauber Rocha’s work — made according to his DIY dictum ‘An idea in your head and a camera in hand…’ — has been an inspiration for much cinema in Brazil and elsewhere.

          This post is also intended to support and publicise a (for charity) screening of Glauber Rocha’s Terra em Transe in London by Latin America House/CasaLatina.org on April 8. Do please go along if you can, and find out more about about this important filmmaker’s work and about Brazilian cinema, politics and culture more generally.