Expanded Cinema Studies? Free eBook on Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art


Screen Heritage Goes App! The Curzon Memories Project

Engaging video about the Curzon Memories App, a practice-research project by Charlotte Crofts, funded by the Digital Cultures Research Centre and the University of the West of England. The video was made by Sy Taffel.
My thinking about locative media as a means of exploring screen heritage is informed by the “apparatus theorists” of the 1970s (Baudry, Comolli, Heath, Metz, Mulvey, Wollen, all collected in Philip Rosen’s seminal collection Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Reader, 1972), who were interested in the cinematic apparatus both in terms of the equipment of production and projection and in terms of the conditions of spectatorship (the engaged spectator in a darkened communal auditorium). At the [Curzon Memories App] project’s heart is a concern with both the culture and technologies of seeing: how we might use new screen media as a lens through which to understand the old cinematic apparatus and in turn historicise the new media. The idea is to use locative media to add depth to the everyday architecture of the cinema beyond that which is immediately apparent, and so enhance visitors’ experience and understanding of the cinema and the collection. In this sense, the project is centrally concerned with the interface between cultural memory and the technological imaginary of the moving image. [from Charlotte Crofts, ‘Technologies of Seeing the Past: The Curzon Memories App’, Paper published in the proceedings of the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, London 2011 pp. 163-4]

One of the cinemas cited [in David Bordwell’s recent post about the threat of digital conversion to art house cinemas] is the Art House Cinema, in Champaign-Urbana, a University town in the middle of corn fields in the mid-West (where I happened to live for a short spell […]) […].  I think it might be where I first saw Terence Mallick’s Days of Heaven as a girl of nine, and have been haunted by it ever since. This, combined with my involvement with the Curzon, and indeed the Whiteladies Picture House campaign, made me feel how urgent it is to preserve screen heritage beyond the conservation of the films themselves – which is in itself incredibly important – but there’s something rather pressing about preserving the cinema-going experience in today’s multi-screen world: the apparatus of cinema, the built environment, the technologies; which is at the heart of the Curzon Memories App, and Projection Hero in particular. [Charlotte Crofts, ”, The Curzon Project, January 31, 2012]

I hadn’t really thought I was making a documentary the whole time I was developing the app, but with hindsight, my experience as a filmmaker couldn’t help but inform the project and trying to articulate my work […] really helped me to see that ‘experience design’ is essentially an extension of documentary practice – we all want to move people and make them see the world differently – I’m just excited about doing that in the actual place you are interested in exploring. [Charlotte Crofts, ‘Curzon Memories App as interactive documentary’, The Curzon Project, April 12, 2012]

[I]t is quite clear that printed works of reference are a thing of the past. I do not here mean, of course, the polders of misinformation contained in the poorly triangulated written texts of Wikipedia: rather I have in mind the breathtaking and illuminating elegance of Touch Publications and Charlotte Croft’s ‘Geo-spatial, Geo-temporal’ app to guide a tourist around a physical site. Why slap a guide-book around when your phone will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about what you are looking at. This will not destroy the publishing, on whatever platform, of unenhanced alphanumeric texts but it surely must transform the presentation of printed information. (And, ok, it’s the first major change in that since the codex started to replace the scroll in the 4th Christian century – this technicism stuff is easy to fall in with.) And Charlotte’s application isn’t going to make the tourist a citizen of the world but it will immeasurably improve their experience of travel. [Brian Winston on i-Docs 2012. Wikipedia link added by FSFF ! :)]

Like Brian Winston in the last of the above quotations, Film Studies For Free (an ever-upbeat Cassandra) has seen the future: it comes on little screens!! 

OK, so maybe that’s not such an original (or all-encompassing) prophesy. But FSFF really has seen a remarkable, and original, slice of the future of ‘pervasive‘ and ‘locative‘, mobile Film Studies. 

The little screens in question here, with their “virtual-experience-design”, are very much attached (in this particular project) to a very memorable, big screen, in three dimensions, with its associated history and real-world experiences.

The Curzon Memories App, the beautifully designed outcome of an innovative research project by Charlotte CroftsSenior Lecturer in Film Studies and Video Production at the University of the West of England, provides a “locative media experience” designed to enhance visits to the Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon, and its ‘Living History’ collection of cinema technology, through “context-aware oral history and dramatisation”.

The above video sets out brilliantly the scope and functionality of the app. FSFF‘s favourite-sounding element is Projection Hero, a “miniature cinema installation which you can manipulate with your phone – open the curtains, dim the lights and play the movies – including the infamous Pearl and Dean ‘Asteroid’ theme and poignant interviews with retired projectionists”. It looks forward to trying this out in the cinema itself.

The App is free. Just click on the relevant link, below, to access and download it. It’s very much worthy of your exploration and support, even if you live nowhere near Clevedon – a lovely, little, English town not far from which FSFF‘s author happened to grow up, and in which she was forever traumatised by X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes… 

If you like it, please take time to rate it, and leave an appreciative comment, too, at the digital store of your choice. 

The further links below will take you to much more information about, as well as research consideration of, this wonderful project and will also tell you all about Crofts’ latest, innovative, project. 

The Road to Digital – New AUP eBooks on Film Archives and Mobile Screens and a Video Lecture on Digital Cinematic Attractions

  • Digital Cinema Essay-Film-Lecture (for Film History and Criticism, University of Roehampton, 29 March 2012) by William Brown
    • Films mentioned in William Brown’s essay-film-lecture, above: Arabesque (John Whitney, USA, 1975); TRON (Steven Lisberger, USA, 1982); Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron, USA, 1991); Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, USA, 1993); Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, USA, 1994); The Incredibles (Brad Bird, USA, 2004); A Very Long Engagement (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France/USA, 2004); Sleep Dealer (Alex Rivera, Mexico/USA, 2008); Day Watch (Timur Bekmambetov, Russia, 2006); The Host (Joon-ho Bong, South Korea, 2006); Panic Attack! (Fede Alvarez, Uruguay, 2009); O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel Coen, UK/USA, 2000); Making Of O Brother, Where Art Thou?; 300 (Zack Snyder, USA, 2006); Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis, USA, 2007); Singin’ in the Rain Golf GTI Advert (Ne-o, 2005); Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, USA, 2008); Fight Club (David Fincher, USA, 1999); War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, USA, 2006); Spider-Man (Sam Raimi, USA, 2002); Avatar (James Cameron, USA, 2009); The Day After Tomorrow (Roland Emmerich, USA, 2004); The Matrix (Andy and Larry Wachowski, USA, 1999); Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez, USA, 2007); The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, USA/New Zealand, 2003)
    • Academic texts mentioned in the above lecture: Bordwell, David (2002). ‘Intensified Continuity: Visual Style in Contemporary American Film’, Film Quarterly, 55:3 (Spring), pp. 16-28; Brown, William (2009). ‘Man Without a Movie Camera – Movies Without Men: Towards a Posthumanist Cinema?’ in Film Theory and Contemporary Hollywood Movies (ed. Warren Buckland), Abingdon/New York: Routledge/AFI, pp. 66-85;  Buckland, Warren (2006). Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster, London: Continuum; Elsaesser, Thomas, and Warren Buckland (2002). Studying Contemporary American Film: A Guide to Movie Analysis, London: Arnold; Gunning, Tom (1986). ‘The Cinema of Attraction, Early Film, Its Spectators and the Avant-Garde’, Wide Angle, 8:3-4, pp. 63-70; Manovich, Lev (2001). The Language of New Media, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press; Minnis, Stuart (1998). ‘Digitalisation and the Instrumentalist Approach to the Photographic Image,’ Iris, 25, pp. 49-59; Prince, Stephen (1996). ‘True Lies: Perceptual Realism, Digital Images, and Film Theory,’ Film Quarterly, 49:3 (Spring), pp. 27-37; Wood, Aylish (2002). ‘Timespaces in spectacular cinema: crossing the great divide between spectacle versus narrative,’ Screen, 43:4, pp. 370-386
Film Studies For Free presents a delightfully digital trove of film studies treasure today. Above, a fabulously illustrated, highly informative, and very wide-ranging, first year university lecture on Digital Cinema by University of Roehampton film scholar (and filmmaker) William Brown.  
And, below, links to two wonderful, openly accessible, online “digital film studies” books published by Amsterdam University Press, the best academic publisher ever, in FSFF‘s admittedly, somewhat biased view: Giovanna Fossati’s 2009 From Grain to Pixel: The Archival Life of Film in Transition; and, just published, Nanna Verhoeff’s 2012 Mobile Screens The Visual Regime of Navigation.  
Both have been added to FSFF‘s continuously updated list of openly accessible film studies books.

Film is in a state of rapid change, with the transition from analog to digital profoundly affecting not just filmmaking and distribution, but also the theoretical conceptualization of the medium of film and the practice of film archiving. New forms of digital archives are being developed that make use of participatory media to provide a more open form of access than any traditional archive has offered before. Film archives are thus faced with new questions and challenges. From Grain to Pixel attempts to bridge the fields of film archiving and academic research, by addressing the discourse on film ontology and analysing how it affects the role of film archives. Fossati proposes a new theoretization of film archival practice as the starting point for a renewed dialogue between film scholars and film archivists.

    • Table of Contents
      • Acknowledgements 9
      • Framing Film (in Transition): an Introduction    13
    • part one practice and theory of (archival) film
      • 1    Film Practice in Transition    33 
      • 2    Theorizing Archival Film    103
    • part two theorizing (archival) practice
      • 3    Film Archival Field in Transition    149
      • 4    Restoration Case Studies: Theorizing Archival Practice    211
      • A New Mindset for (Archival) Film in Transition: a Conclusion    255 
      • Notes 261 Glossary of Technical Terms    285 List of Illustrations    291 Filmography 293 Bibliography 297 Index 311

“Nanna Verhoeff’s new book is a must for anybody interested in visual culture and media theory. It offers a rich and stimulating theoretical account of the central dimension of our contemporary existence – interfacing and navigating both data and physical world through a variety of screens (game consoles, mobile phones, car interfaces, GPS devices, etc.) In the process of exploring these new screen practices, Verhoeff offers fresh perspectives on many of the key questions in media and new media studies as well as a number of new original theoretical concepts. As the first theoretical manual for the society of mobile screens, this book will become an essential reference for all future investigations of our mobile screen condition”. – Lev Manovich

    • Table of Contents
      • Acknowledgements    9
      • List of Illustrations    11
        Introduction    13
      • 1. Panoramic Complex    27 Building Visions    28 Panoramic Desire    32 Movement in the Panorama    39 Modes of Viewing    42 The Gaze in Motion    44 A Panoramic Complex    46 The Windshield as Screen    48
      • 2. Self-Reflection    51 The Point of Self-Reflection    51 Meanings of the Screen    56 Spatial Attractions and Visual Deixis    57 Navigating the Screen    65 Navigation as Narration    68 Boundary-Crossings    70
      • 3. Theoretical Consoles    73 The Status of the Gadget: The Case of Nintendo DS    73 Portrait of the Gadget as a Theoretical Console    77 Touch Screen: Dirty Windows    82 Mobile Screen: Carrying, Sharing, Transporting    89 Double Screen: Split, Insert, Map    92 Gadgetivity    95
      • 4. Urban Screens    99 Places of Transit    99 Screenspace    104 Urban Transformation    107 Screen Practices    114 Installation    116 Programming Hybridity    124 Responsive Presence    129
      • 5. Performative Cartography Mobile Dispositif Contesting Cartography Performative Cartography Cartographic Interface Tagging, Plotting, Stitching Layering in Augmented Reality Haptic Engagement
      • Epilogue: You Are Here!
      • Notes Bibliography Index of Names and Titles Index of Terms


 Film Studies For Free brings you the ever happy tidings of the new issue of Senses of Cinema.

It’s a fascinating collection of work, and very wide-ranging: from part one of an interview with, and an article by, Jean-Louis Comolli, film theorist and Cahiers du cinéma editor in possibly its most political period (1966-1978) through Murray Pomerance on Hitchcock to a number of articles on the Oscar-laden French film The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011).

Links to all the great contents are given below.

Senses of Cinema, Issue 62 Contents


Feature Articles

Great Directors

Festival Reports

Book Reviews

Cteq Annotations

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
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.

New Issue of WIDE SCREEN Journal: Cinemas of the Arab World, Militant Cinema, Film Production Studies, SciFi

Frame grab from Drôle de Félix (Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, 2000)

Film Studies For Free‘s author is busy with marking this weekend, and so can only look longingly for now at the below Table of Contents of a bumper new issue of the journal Wide Screen which appears to be going from strength to strength. There are some very enticing and valuable items here, so FSFF wanted to rush its readers the usual direct links to the openly accessible contents.

Wide Screen Vol.3 No.1

  • ‘From the Editors’ Desk’ by Kuhu Tanvir PDF


  • ‘Militants and Cinema: Digital Attempts to Make the Multitude in Hunger, Che, Public Enemies‘ by Joshua Aaron Gooch Abstract PDF
  • ‘Minnelli’s Yellows: Illusion, Delusion and the Impression on Film’ by Kate Hext Abstract PDF
  • Trauma, Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction and the Post-Human’ by Anirban Kapil Baishya Abstract PDF
  • ‘Drôle de Félix: A Search for Cultural Identity on the Road’ by Zélie Asava Abstract PDF
  • ‘An Analysis of the Technoscientific Imaginary in the Remake of The Stepford Wives‘ by Jessica Johnston and Cornelia Sears Abstract PDF 
  • Home Sweet Home: The Cautionary Prison/Fairy Tale’ by Paul Tremblay Abstract PDF 

Film Production Studies (Contd. from W.S. 2.2)

  • Handling Financial and Creative Risk in German Film Production’ by M. Bjørn von Rimscha Abstract PDF
  • Opening Pandora’s (Black) Box: Towards A Methodology Of Production Studies’ by Graham Roberts Abstract PDF 

Cinemas of the Arab World:  

  • ‘Introduction: Cinemas of the Arab World’ by Latika Padgaonkar Abstract PDF
  • ‘Cinema “Of” Yemen And Saudi Arabia: Narrative Strategies, Cultural Challenges, Contemporary Features’ by Anne Ciecko Abstract PDF 
  • Director Profile: Mai Masri’ by Latika Padgaonkar Abstract PDF
  • Salah Abu Seif and Arab Neorealism’ by Ouissal Mejri Abstract PDF 
  • Review: London River‘ by Latika Padgaonkar Abstract PDF 

Book Reviews:

  • ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Seriously Funny Since 1983’ by Radha Dayal Abstract PDF

>Unstable Platforms? Film/Moving Image Studies Papers from MIT7 Media in Transition


Teaser image, courtesy of Warner Brothers, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 out on July 15  (David Yates, 2011). Read Debora Lui’s paper on Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

Today, Film Studies For Free brings you links to film and moving image related papers from the conference proceedings of the seventh annual Media in Transition conference, which will take place next week, May 13-15, 2011, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Here’s the conference’s mission statement:

Has the digital age confirmed and exponentially increased the cultural instability and creative destruction that are often said to define advanced capitalism? Does living in a digital age mean we may live and die in what the novelist Thomas Pynchon has called “a ceaseless spectacle of transition”? The nearly limitless range of design options and communication choices available now and in the future is both exhilarating and challenging, inciting innovation and creativity but also false starts, incompatible systems, planned obsolescence. How are we coping with the instability of platforms? 

FSFF particularly liked ““Make Any Room Your TV Room:” Media Mobility, Digital Delivery, and Family Harmony” by film and media studies scholar and blogger extraordinaire Chuck Tryon, film and television scholar and media studies blogger extraordinaire Michael Z. Newman‘s paper ‘The Television Image and the Image of the Television“, and “Who Told You You Were Special Edition? The Commercialization of the Aura” by Justin Mack.

There are other great papers online connected to the conference theme of unstable platforms and the experience of mediatic transitions that don’t treat moving image topics and you can access those here.