Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Passion(s) of Sam Rohdie (1939-2015)

UPDATED with a new reflection by William Routt on April 19
'In Vertigo, James Stewart's look is as important as the figure [...] whom he regards and who he transforms by his desires [...] It is important that the sight seen has in it something out of place, out of true and the normal, which engages the look of the character and lures him or her into an imaginary.'
Sam Rohdie, Montage (Manchester University Press, 2006), pp. 63-64 (Also see here)

The sad news has arrived of the sudden death, on April 3 in Florida, of film scholar Sam Rohdie, a hugely important, if at times also a divisive figure in our discipline.

In the last years, Rohdie held the position of Professor of Cinema Studies in the Department of Film at the University of Central Florida. He had previously held the Chair in Film Studies at The Queens University of Belfast and before that was Professor of Film Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. He also held academic posts in universities in England, Ghana, Italy and the United States and was an original member of the Cinema Studies Program at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He published widely on film in academic journals and books (see below). Rohdie was the editor of Screen in the United Kingdom from 1971 to 1974.

FSFF's author never met Rohdie, but was an avid reader of his work. He not only made a huge contribution to film studies as a discipline, he was also an important author and supporter of online and open access film scholarship, particularly at the pioneering Australian open access journal Screening the Past (including co-editing two dossiers for the journal with Des O-'Rawe - on ‘Cinema/Photography: Beyond Representation [Screening the Past, Issue 29]' and 'Cinema/Theatre: Beyond Adaptation [Screening the Past, Issue 21]'; see the journal's own Facebook page for its tributes to Rohdie). The latter is one of the reasons why his contribution is especially dear to FSFF.

Below, you can find invited tributes to Rohdie's work, beginning with Adrian Martin's memories of Rohdie - more will follow on a rolling basis in the next days. 

Below the tributes is FSFF's characteristic gathering of links to online scholarly works - ones by or about Rohdie, as well as a list of his major books.

If you have any resources you would like to be added, please email FSFF. Thanks.


Sam Rohdie 
By Adrian Martin
It was 1978. I was a student in the Media course at Melbourne State College (a training institution for secondary school teachers) in Australia, and that semester we had (thanks to his friend Tom Ryan) an illustrious guest lecturer: Sam Rohdie. At that time, Sam was completing his PhD, a minute analysis – written somewhat in the manner of Barthes or Derrida – of a segment from Rossellini’s Rome, Open City. We worked through this same segment in class, week after week, with a 16mm print and projector (those were the days!).
Sam’s goal was to show, intensively, that what history had taken for ‘realism’ (or even neo-realism) was entirely fabricated, shot for shot, cut for cut. That what happened apparently ‘incidentally’ in the scene was connected, by numerous narrative and semantic chains, to every other moment in the film. There was the thrill – de rigueur at the time – of the micro-analytic exposure of common sense and transparency, an almost paranoiac ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ as it came to be called. But there was also a sensual joy in this analysis, and that quickly came to mean more for Sam, in all the work that followed this doctoral culmination of what we might think of as his ‘Screen years’ – i.e., his time as editor, contributor, instigator and agitator at that (now august) cinema studies journal.
Almost at the second the ink was dry on that thesis, Sam got into the habit of downplaying the Screen legacy in his life – and he was still doing so when Deane Williams interviewed him in 2010 for a history of film theory in Australia. He had developed a marked aversion to the ‘dry taxonomies’ of Metz, as he told me, and indeed with the entire dream of structuralist-semiotic film analysis. He was through with the pretension to scientific rigour and certainty. He was heading somewhere else, and now in a more post-structuralist spirit, but without all the lengthy citations and footnotes of the then-recent academic past: into paradox, into pleasure, and above all into writing as a creative as well as critical art.
In 1978, Sam had given me the draft of his PhD to read – and he curtly dismissed me from his presence on the day I handed it back without any particularly searing critical comment to offer on it. That’s how he was: like Godard, Sam was always in search of an interlocutor, and so rarely found one who he deemed worthy. It was his personal style, and it infused his singularly disconcerting teaching method. Sam was aggressive and provocative in the classroom; he was impatient with having to be ‘the teacher’. This seems to have remained his teaching mode, more or less, to the end of his life (he was about to retire from the game in May). In 1978, at least, he was in the habit of identifying the ‘gifted’ students – this was to be my role, alas – and, when he got bored, giving the signal for that chosen delegate to keep the class going by yapping on without missing the beat, as he looked off and thought of more pleasant things, such as what he would cook that evening (Sam was a true foodie). 
Rossellini: Sam came to love him, not to expose him – as his essay on India eventually showed. I came to see, by the mid 1990s, when he launched his personal book-writing crusade with the brilliant Antonioni – and after articles he had written in various Australian magazines like Cinema Papers and Filmviews – that Sam now grasped every film he liked (in deep-dish Derrida style) as a conceptual paradox: a statement or position always undoing itself, implying its opposite term. This idea tracks through all of his writing on the great auteurs of Italian cinema. Fellini, for instance, may make films that, on the surface decry a world of artifice and superficiality – but, in their very being, they celebrate this artifice, and invite us to (as he once wrote) “join the party”. Rocco and His Brothers may seem to be groping toward a stern moral statement about the “conflicting claims of passion and duty, art and reason”, but Visconti is forever fascinated by the decadence that he dramatises. Sam was no longer out to expose or correct these wayward, paradoxical expressions. On the contrary, he took them for constitutive paradoxes, generating the most agonised, soulful and beautiful of films. 
I don’t pretend to have really known Sam, or to know now what ever made him tick. I have the impression that he was someone who constantly reinvented himself and his life, in terms of the places he lived (and taught), the languages he learnt, the books he read and the films he saw (and re-saw). In Australia in the 1970s and ‘80s, he hurled himself into the public works of film culture: he appeared on radio (very memorably), chaired feisty public discussions at the National Film Theatre, and contributed to curriculum committees for screen education at tertiary and secondary levels. The most remarkable sign of this intense desire to ‘assimilate’ was in his finding and championing of Australian avant-garde work – work that has rarely been approached with such theoretical zest ever since. 
But I think that, in later times and places – in Hong Kong or Belfast or Florida, by which time I had totally lost touch with him – he no longer longed to fuse himself with local scenes in the same way. Rather, he preferred to look backward (and yet forward) into history, histories of film and culture; and it was writing that sustained his interest and his passion, as we see in his final essay collections, Montage and Intersections, and no doubt the posthumous Film Modernism appearing later this year. I spotted him at the Godard conference at the Tate in 2001 – a rather lonely, sullen figure, he seemed to me, and unaccountably silent at each session’s question time, where once he would have been so vociferous – and again in 2006 on the streets of Paris, once more on a rendez-vous with Godard, this time the astonishing Pompidou exhibition Voyage(s) en utopie. And it is Godard and his Histoire(s) du cinéma that, judging from the essays he would regularly send the editors of Screening the Past in his last years, form the spine of Film Modernism
I am back in that classroom of 1978. Sam gives me ‘the sign’ to speak – I am utterly terrified, but kind-of used to this sadomasochistic ritual by now – and he looks away from the sea of students, indifferent to either their delight or their dismay. I remember one day, when he did this, just about everyone present could forgive his perennial tactic, because he was concentrated by something that formed a quite lovely spectacle: his very young daughter had fallen asleep in his lap at the front of the classroom, and he caressed her very gently and tenderly, soothing her dreams. This is the image of Sam Rohdie I choose to remember today.
© Adrian Martin, 14 April 2015


Sam Rohdie: Three Times 
By Deane Williams 
(1)
In 1989, after many years away from the University, I enrolled in an Honours year at the then legendary La Trobe University Cinema Studies department, home to Bill Routt, Rick Thompson, Barbara Creed, Lorraine Mortimer, and, of course, Sam Rohdie. I wanted to write a dissertation on Chris Marker’s Sunless and was assigned Sam as a supervisor. Sam told me he didn’t, at that time, like the film much, wasn’t a very good supervisor, suggested I might be interested in Italian neo-realism and that I couldn’t write. He also suggested that I read Proust and Jean Rouch on the “cine-trance” in the essay in Mick Eaton’s collection Anthropology, Reality, Cinema. It turned out to be not much of a dissertation. No matter. 
What Sam did was introduce me to was what I think of as intellectual film studies, what Sam, in an interview I did with him in 2009, called “serious film studies”, a term he used over and over in that interview, as distinct from a theoretical approach to film studies; an approach taken by everyone at La Trobe in this period. He continued:
I think the more correct word is seriousness and that engaging with a film or a group of films was risky and exciting and you needed to do it seriously and whatever would help you in that seriousness you should employ and so it was very… anything, anything would do but there certainly wasn’t a ‘film theory’ that I had any particular loyalty towards. You used ideas when they seemed appropriate and you went to things when they seemed appropriate and if certain structures of ideas helped you to see things, you employed them but they were kind of instruments.
In this way Sam was a kind of deep intellectual, with a formidable knowledge across, film and art history, literature, critical theory et al., matched by an equally fearsome confidence in both his own criticism of any presumed knowledge as well as his own manner in pursuing his own ideas. Sam was forthright, difficult and a hell of a writer. 
(2) 
In my PhD dissertation completed in 2000, I tried to mimic Sam’s writing on Italian neo-realism in my own discussion of Rossellini’s Stromboli in relation to R Maslyn Williams Mike and Stefani. A few years later I read and reviewed Sam’s essayistic Promised Lands: Cinema. Geography, Modernism for Framework. It is my favourite book of Sam’s, even though his Antonioni floored me at the time. I wrote then that,

Promised Lands is a book that is formally like the cinema that Rohdie revels in. Like Rohdie’s beloved neo-realism the book is invested with the present but only as it relates to what Rohdie and Bazin understood to be “the unforeseen”. In adopting this approach Rohdie divests himself of intention, of arguing a point, of calling on reliable witnesses to nail the reading of any situation, photograph or film. The book is open ended, free flowing marked by gaps, fissures and repetitions masking an intricacy at its heart.
I wrote that Promised Lands was a kind of ideal film studies book, eccentric to the pressures many of us submit to in academic life, a book that worked away at Albert Kahn’s The Archives of the Planet, in an imaginative, indirect and marvellous work of writing about cinema. 
(3) 
In 2009 I travelled to Orlando Florida to spend the day with Sam, eating at a Vietnamese restaurant, interviewing, talking about Sam’s latest interests and writing endeavours: Chris Marker, Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma and Johan van der Keuken.  Sam was incredibly generous with his time and his remembrances, able to understand his enormous contribution to film studies in a measured and engaging way. Sam had obviously thought a lot about his various roles, in Ghana, in London at Screen, New York, Australia, Hong Kong, Belfast, Florida with each move understood in amongst the significant cultural shifts occurring around him. I think the interview captured the intellectual spirit of a truly eccentric character. Rest in Peace Sam Deane Williams 
“Journeying” Rev of Promised Lands: Cinema. Geography, Modernism – Sam Rohdie”,Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media. 45: 2 (Fall 2004): 118-120.
 “Some Things You Never Learn” – Sam Rohdie Interviewed by Deane Williams. in Noel King and Deane Williams. Australian Film Theory and Criticism. Vol. II: Interviews. Bristol and Chicago, Intellect, 2014. 157-168.  
© Deane Williams, 15 April 2015


In Memoriam: Sam Rohdie 
By Lesley Stern 

The film is beautiful. The Chinese authorities wanted a film which glorified the Revolution, a film full of certainties. Antonioni gave them instead a film of immense affection, care, and attention, but one as a result at odds with the official, the sure, the conventional, and the false. In doing so, the film suggested a politics of art based on openness, on looking, on wondering, on respect for the specific, the particular, the individual. It was a journey in search of what was hidden and interior in China, not its political public face, but its human one.[i]
Sam, here, is writing about Antonioni’s 1972 film, Chung Kuo Cina. But it seems to me this could also be read as an account of his own journey through cinema, and about the relationship between writing about films and films themselves. Sam’s later books and writing hover between a careful attention to the films he discusses, as entities existing independent of the individual gaze, and as worlds that bring into being the consciousness of the writer, that elicit and shape a mode of writing and reflection that is acutely personal. 
Sam and I worked together, along with others, in the Cinema Studies Program at la Trobe University in Melbourne for about six years, from 1977-1982. During that time we maintained a strong collegial relationship and a kind-of-friendship. A couple of years later he cut me out of his life as he was wont to do. And we had no further contact. 
I learnt more, teaching with Sam, than from any other single person. He might have been cavalier with students (Adrian describes his mode very well and also captures the way in which Sam, despite his unorthodox pedagogic mode, had a tremendous impact on those students who endured) but he never condescended and always (usually correctly) assumed that people were capable of grasping much more complex ideas than commonsense dictated. As a colleague, though, the thrill was in the preparation, in the discussion about the curriculum and courses, in the space opened up in these discussions and debates to really interrogate why the cinema mattered (interrogate? oh where did this word come from? It just torpedoed right out of the 1970s, exploding into this so much more subdued bit of writing). We had a lot of fun devising and imagining courses, like an introductory unit that would begin with All that Heaven Allows and end with River of No Return
Sam was a formidable presence. He could be charming, seductive, engaged -- or cruel, malicious, capricious, indifferent. And sometimes it varied from one moment to the next. I learnt early on that if you could get a toe hold in an argument with Sam the important thing was to hang on, even if you had to swing from the chandeliers or more often from decidedly less glittering perches. We argued a lot during those years. Some of those arguments were predictable but you could also be blind-sided. One day, seemingly out of the blue, he lit into me with particular fury about Jeanne Dielmann. He chose his moment well: a party, when there was a hush in the room. He denounced the film (and me) as retrograde, as exhibiting all the worst tendencies of neo-realism, as a huge black mark against feminist film and any claims made on its behalf for experimentation. Indeed, in general he considered my feminism as proof of an impoverished imaginative grasp of cinema. Robbe Grillet is another figure about whom we disagreed. For Sam all relations in film could be plotted, figures positioned and transposed, the game enjoyed. 
This is the story I now tell; his story would no doubt be different. He would be the first to say that we all tell stories, and indeed he reveled in performativity. He picked up and dropped people just like he did ideas. He would include people in his will and excise them, often publicly. If you were able to grasp the performative aspect of his vitriol you might survive, and even on occasion enjoy the drama, but a lot of people didn’t survive. 
Let me qualify or reconsider what I have just said. Sam did not treat people and ideas in quite the same way. I think he had a lot more respect, on the whole, for ideas; he was a tenacious and passionate intellectual, he never floated ideas whimsically, always his arguments were based in extensive and deep reading, viewing, thinking through. In the interview he did with Deane Williams he reconsiders his position of the Screen days, and talks about how he has no canon, no fixed allegiances, how he likes to probe and find out what curiosity yields, what ideas are useful, or new—generated by a text. I think this is true in his criticism, but I would also say that he has remained remarkably true to certain film makers and writers: to Italian cinema of the postwar period, to Godard, to Proust and Barthes. 
Take A Lover’s Discourse. Sam and I were in agreement in loving that Barthes. Though at the time its influence did not actually register in much film writing. But it does register in later Rohdie, reading a book like Promised Lands: Cinema, Geography, Modernism is also to reread the Barthes of A Lover’s Discourse
Ideas/people: are they so distinguishable, or so interchangeable? Surely not, but it is not always so easy to tell how, in what circuitous and often unexpected ways they are connected. 
After living for some years in Melbourne Sam bought a place on the outskirts of the city where he (I think) remodeled the existing house and terraced the hillside to landscape a vegetable garden. He was a marvelous cook, his touch was light and deft. I remember a particular lunch he conjured: raw crunchy fresh vegetables and a rich yellow mayonnaise, and then a stir fry with snow peas from the garden. But most of all I remember how he showed with great pride his pantry. It was cool and spacious, shelves lined with jars of fruit and jam and chutneys he had bottled. 
I often recall that day, a poignant pleasure, not long before we became no-longer friends. Often when I am feeling sorry for myself, when I start cataloguing all the things that are missing from my life, top of the list is usually a pantry. I always think, then, with considerable envy, of Sam’s pantry. But as I walk in and start browsing the shelves ideas start bubbling. The Rohdie pantry is also a library, an archive, a film museum, a curiosity cabinet. 
Looking forward to meeting Sam again in his forthcoming Film Modernism.
[i] http://www.littlerabbit.com/antonioni/masamrohdie.html
© Lesley Stern, 18 April 2015



JUST ADDED  
Cut 
By William Routt 


Perhaps I should begin by pointing out that what you read here was not written by Bill Routt. It is being written by William D. Routt, an identity with which Bill should be intimately acquainted but who is by no means me. 
And what I am writing or have written emphasises a specific and crucial element of my (and your) relation to Sam Rohdie: Sam as a distorted reflection. In 1989 I, the one who writes this, dedicated an essay about cinema and architecture to “Sam – miroir insolite,” a pretty up itself way of telling him (if he ever read it or understood the secret message) that I was writing about this topic because he had been teaching and thinking and occasionally talking about Antonioni and architecture, and that I was also conscious of having taken other cues from what he had done. Of course, as it turned out, my dedication was much more than that. 
I had taken a lot of pleasure in the disturbance Sam caused when he initially arrived in the same batch of media faculty as I and another, at La Trobe's School of Education. There had been a raucous, pointed exchange with other members of the School on matters of history in which Sam was the Big Dog and I was the Small Dog. Even when he scared me, I thought it probably did me some good – because he could not shut up, because he had to say what he thought (or, rather, felt), because he was a bully, because he liked to embarrass and destroy. And because I also thought that there was no particular, no specific malice in what he did and said. There was a malice towards all, not malice towards one. He wanted no part of anyone (he wanted us all, all of us). Don't you wish you were like that? I did. 
So Sam was my bizarre mirror, an inversion of vision as printing is an inversion of what has been written, in which I identified myself distorted, no good, and truly. Saw the Big Dog without ever being the big dog. My reflection, projection, identification. The triumph of the finite me in the Absolutely Other. I hope he was that for at least some of you as well because, I think, it may have been something of what he intended, if he ever intended, if we ever really intend. 
Almost to the measure that his later, post-La Trobe, work was not within a mainstream that he, as editor of Screen in the early seventies, did so much to establish, that work is a benchmark of the best that a passionate, loving, and ambitious curiosity about  the cinema can produce. What interests me most about Sam's writing after Promised Lands, however, is its form. Fellini Lexicon, Montage, Intersections, and the forthcoming Film Modernism are all what I will call quilts, made of pieces that “stand alone”, related by colour and shape set in a certain relation to one another, a relation that might be another relation in another context, a relation that perhaps only seems to suggest a bounded whole – each a small model of community that does nowork. In this sense, what he wrote in that period takes us back to the  dissertation on just 43 shots of Rossellini's that he wrote, and I read, during his first years at La Trobe University. 
Fourteen years ago (almost to the day that I heard about Sam's death), he sent me an email asking what I knew about Primers. The wonderful, perfectly elementary Fellini Lexicon was about to come out and he was working on a short book about Godard along similar lines. Diane, who makes the actual quilts and to whom my writing is always (sometimes also) dedicated, collects childrens' books and she and I began to talk about such books. I picked through what she said and I said and wrote back to Sam. Some time after that he told me that he might quote/use what I had sent him in his Godard book. 
Two intriguing things happened since then. 
The first is that "the Godard book" no longer exists. Instead there is Film Modernism, which apparently is/will be something of a Primer on the topic of its title and on Godard and on Godard's Histoires, which Sam loved and lured me to love in a certain "round and round we go, down and down we go, into that old black magic" fashion. I do not know what may be in that book beyond love and black magic. 
The second intriguing thing is that in sorting through my computerised files a couple of year ago, I came across a couple of pages about Primers which I thought must have been written by Sam - for what would I have to say on such a topic? Since they had been placed, clearly by mistake, among the files of my own writing, I conscientiously deleted them in order to avoid inadvertent plagiarism. Now I remember that I was keeping them because they belonged with my notes about The Fairy Spectator, a very interesting book about mirrors and morals - thus, like Lois Weber's Hypocrites and other texts, about the cinema (only The Fairy Spectator was written in 1784). But now those pages are lost utterly because I was not able to distinguish myself from Sam. Or so it may be. There was no mirror left, no inversion. In writing, to my mind and for a couple of paragraphs, we were one. 
* 
I am thinking just now, intermittently, of Sergei Eisenstein's glass house in which no one notices anymore that the walls are glass, that someone can see and be seen through them. Instead all behave as though they are invisible to others. And this is the cinema: we watch, we judge. In the end our judgement is delivered; the glass house is smashed, and with it everything else is destroyed. One reason I am thinking about this is that I was first drawn to Eisenstein's glass house project while I was writing the essay I dedicated to Sam. 
"I wrote a story about living in the city, you know, after the end of the world thing. Just glass, everywhere glass" (an Author). 
For every image is  a sememe, that is, an assertion, a speech act. Every image demands interpretation, that is, judgement. Every image in this way reflects its viewer; every image is a figure. Every figure cuts itself off from other figures, every figure foresees its own destruction and everyone knows the exploding dice are loaded. 
Or at least this is what happens when one sees the thing in the mirror - a figure, a singularity, always already a monster. But this is also what happens when one stops looking, stops being distracted by the refractions of the light, the unending proliferation of sense. All that glass is, of course, already in the city before world's end, but invisible. All those reflections refracting reflections. We have but to look (again). 
There are more than a Viewer, or Viewers, and a Figure, or Figures, here. There is an Author. There are Authors. Histories, Memories, Texts, Secrets, Erasures, Lies, the Unnameable, the Unintended. And Futures, of course.  There is a community there and here, an unworking or nowork community, lured by curiosity, and awakened by a touch.  
The Big Dog - is it ambition? And the Little Dog - curiosity? What does ambition want - is it love?  Surely curiosity wants only understanding? They lie there together in the hall, waiting for me (and others) to take them for a walk. 
(But I would say that, about understanding and love, wouldn't I?).  As though one had to make a dichotomy here, as though this writing has been an act of separation instead of conjuncture. I am not writing about Sam. I cannot write about Sam, for there are no words of mine to replace his words which I make my own whenever I read them. I can write only about me, about the part of me that I sense as Sam. This is what I would write about you also. You know that. 
And you would make of me. 
*
© William D. Routt, 19 April 2015



Works by Sam Rohdie online

Online works about Sam Rohdie's work:

Sam Rohdie's Books
  • FORTHCOMING Film Modernism, New York : Manchester University Press, October 2015 (see below for blurb)
  • JUST ADDED Intersections: Writings on Cinema New York : Manchester University Press, 2012
  • Montage, Manchester ; New York : Manchester University Press ; New York : Distributed in the USA by Palgrave, 2006
  • Fellini Lexicon, London : BFI Publishing, 2002
  • Promised Lands: Cinema, Geography, Modernism; London : British Film Institute, 2001
  • The Passion of Pier Paolo Pasolini, London : British Film Institute / Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1996
  • Rocco and His Brothers, London : BFI Publishing, 1993
  • Antonioni, London : BFI Publishing, 1990
Film Modernism publisher's summary
This book is at once a detailed study of a range of individual filmmakers and an exploration of the modernism in which they are situated. It consists of fifty categories arranged in alphabetical order, among which are Allegory, Bricolage, Classicism, Contradiction, Desire, Destructuring and Writing. Each category, though autonomous, interacts, intersects and juxtaposes with the others, entering into a dialogue with them and in so doing creates connections, illuminations, associations and rhymes which may not have arisen in a more conventional framework. The apparent arbitrary order and openness of the book, based as it is on the alphabet, is indebted to Jean-Luc Godard's interrogation of history and of film history in all his work, especially in his Histoire(s) du cinema and its associative reach.
     The author refers to particular films and directors that raise questions related to modernism, and, inevitably, thereby to classicism, and often offers more in the way of questions and speculations than answers and conclusions. Jean-Luc Godard's work is at the centre of the book, though it spreads out, evokes and echoes other filmmakers and their work, including the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, João César Monteiro, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Orson Welles. This innovative and eloquently written text book will be an essential resource for all film students.

Monday, 6 April 2015

On Desktop Documentary (or, Kevin B. Lee Goes Meta!)

Kevin B. Lee talks about Desktop Documentary at the University of Sussex, March 17, 2015

Film Studies For Free is thrilled to present an entry dedicated to some of the latest work of one of its absolute heroes: filmmaker, critic, and pioneer (and expert proponent) of the online video essay format, Kevin B. Lee.

On March 17th, 2015, Lee gave a Masterclass on his work at the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex, UK.

Recently, he and others at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have developed a form of filmmaking they call Desktop Documentary, which uses screen capture technology to treat the computer screen as both a camera lens and a canvas. Desktop documentary seeks both to depict and question the ways we explore the world through the computer screen.

The Masterclass straddled a screening of Transformers: The Premake (2014, embedded below), Lee’s innovative essay film in this idiom. The ‘Premake’ produced and studied viral fan footage of the making of Michael Bay’s 2014 blockbuster Transformers 4: The Age Of Extinction and examined the ways in which this operated as an unofficial crowdsourced publicity vehicle for the film.

Below, you can find a complete audio recording of the Masterclass, an 'iPhone guerrilla video recording' of Kevin's five minute long introduction of the 'Premake,' and also a high quality video recording of the brilliant, first half hour of the Masterclass in which he discussed in detail the audiovisual antecedents of the innovative form his film took. There are also some links to further related online resources.

In FSFF's very humble view, this form of audiovisual presentation, with its incredibly skilful and brilliantly thought through use of screen capture, has the potential to revolutionise aspects of media studies teaching and learning - even as it's going to be pretty difficult to achieve the expressive and argumentational heights that Lee manages in his 'Premake'. Thanks Kevin!






Tuesday, 31 March 2015

KOSMORAMA! Great online resources from the Danish Film Institute


Short films from a small nation - marketing postwar Denmark (13 Nov 2014)
Fifty years before Borgen hit British TV screens, Danish directors were making films for British audiences. Driven by the need to market Danish produce and culture abroad after World War II, the government funded hundreds of short films in many languages, encompassing topics from pensions to bacon to handicrafts.

As the Spring break in the UK beckons, Film Studies For Free sparks back into life with some shorter entries.

The first of these results from some correspondence with Claire Thomson of University College London (who features in the excellent videoed talk, embedded above). Dr Thomson very kindly wrote to FSFF to point it in the direction of the following two online resources from the Danish Film Institute
The Danish film journal Kosmorama was established in 1954, and since 2011 has been publishing 4-5 issues a year in online open access format, from its base at the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen. Most of Kosmoramas articles are peer-reviewed, but space is also reserved for writing accessible to a wide audience of cinephiles. 
The journal also tries to strike a balance between publishing in English for a global audience, and catering for Scandinavian readers, with articles in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. A clever feature of Kosmorama is its use of embedded film clips, images and documentation to illustrate arguments and analyses. The site also hosts a research blog, which is a place to share news on recent publications and upcoming workshops, lectures, conferences and call for papers, and readers can sign up to a newsletter so as not to miss a single issue
Recent content in English includes articles on media in Wim Wenders Paris, Texas, metafiction in House of Cards, state-sponsored short films, Mormonism in early Danish cinema, and a theme issue on Body Language in the Moving Image. Article submissions of around 5000 words on any aspect of cinema and television are welcome, and information for potential contributors can be found via Kosmoramas English homepage: http://www.kosmorama.org/ServiceMenu/05-English.aspx  
The Danish Film Institute is also home to an extensive web resource on the auteur Carl Th. Dreyer.  Carl Th. Dreyer: The Man and His Work combines a growing collection of essays on Dreyers life, work and style with an extensively annotated filmography, film clips, stills, posters, and a searchable database of the Dreyer Archive. Whether you want to read about aspects of Dreyers style or filmmaking practice, research his correspondence, watch his short films, or find out what  Lars von Trier inherited from Dreyer (answer: some stylistic tricks, and a tailor-made tuxedo), do visit the site here: http://english.carlthdreyer.dk/
Thanks very much to Dr Thomson for these. FSFF readers will be able to find lots of articles online at Kosmorama, but the ones in the latest issue have been listed and are linked to below.

ARTICLES / KOSMORAMA #258 – BODY LANGUAGE IN THE MOVING IMAGE


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

New JUMP CUT, MOVIE, CINEMA on Deleuze, L'ATALANTE on acting and cinephile directors, CINEMA COMPAR/ATIVE CINEMA on Manny Farber and MUCH MORE


Happy 2015 from Film Studies For Free! Quite a few major online journal launches of Fall 2014 issues didn't make it into FSFF's end of year round up (which did announce new issues of The Cine Files, Mediascape, [in]Transition, NECSUS, Frames and other great items). So links and contents are gathered below for convenience.

As the brilliant Jump Cut issue 56 has just been published, FSFF wanted to rush that news to you, but will also add further links of note to the foot of the entry in the coming days. So do come back to take a look at those.

CINEMA:
 Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, 6 (2014): GILLES DELEUZE AND MOVING IMAGES
    • Edited by Susana Viegas PDF
    • Editorial: Gilles Deleuze and Moving Images, 1-7 PDF by Susana Viegas
    • Abstracts, 8-15 PDF
ARTICLES
    • Cinema: The “Counter-Realization” of Philosophical Problems, by Mirjam Schaub PDF
    • Visual Effects and Phenomenology of Perceptual Control, by Jay Lampert PDF
    • Double-Deleuze: “Intelligent Materialism” Goes to the Movies, by Bernd Herzogenrath PDF
    • Bringing the Past into the Present: West of the Tracks as a Deleuzian Time-Image, by William Brown PDF
    • Thought-Images and the New as a Rarity: A Reevaluation of the Philosophical Implications of Deleuze’s Cinema Books, by Jakob Nilsson PDF
    • Visions of the Intolerable: Deleuze on Ethical Images, by Joseph Barker PDF
    • Artaud Versus Kant: Annihilation of the Imagination in the Deleuze’s Philosophy of Cinema, 
    • Jurate Baranova PDF
    • Para Além da Imagem-Cristal: Contributos para a Identificação de uma Terceira Síntese do Tempo nos Cinemas de Gilles Deleuze, by Nuno Carvalho PDF
BOOK REVIEWS
    • Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature, by Niall Flynn PDF
    • Brutal Vision: The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema, Adam Cottrel PDF

CINEMA COMPAR/ATIVE CINEMA, No. 4, Fall 2014 (English language version)
CINEMA SCOPE Issue 61, 2014, online feature and interview content


JUMP CUT No. 56, fall 2014 (all items below are available here: http://www.ejumpcut.org/currentissue/index.html)

HOLLYWOOD, MAINSTREAM
    • Saving Mr. Banks and building Mr. Brand: the Walt Disney Company in the era of corporate personhood by Mike Budd 
    • The horrors of slavery and modes of representation in 12 Years a Slave and Amistad by by Douglas Kellner
    • Django Unchained—thirteen ways of looking at a black film by Heather Ashley Hayes and Gilbert Rodman 
    • The artificial intelligence of Her By Robert Alpert 
    • Attack the Block: monsters, race, and rewriting South London’s outer spaces by Lorrie Palmer 
    • Class warfare in the Robocop films by Milo Sweedler
    • Pirates without piracy: criminality, rebellion, and anarcho-libertarianism in the pirate film by Michael D. High 
    • Demon debt: 
Paranormal Activity as recessional post-cinematic allegory By Julia Leyda 
    • Wolfen: they might be gods by Tyler Sage
    • As beautiful as a butterfly? Monstrous cockroach nature and the horror film by Robin Murray and Joseph Heuman 
    • U.S. ambivalence about torture: an analysis of post-9/11 films by Jean Rahbar 

TECH AND BUSINESS
    • Hugo. The Artist—specters of film new nostalgia movies and Hollywood’s digital transition
    • by Jason Sperb 
    • The tail wags: Hollywood’s crumbling infrastructure by Jonathan Eig
    • The white flag of surrender? NBC, The Jay Leno Show, and failure on contemporary broadcast television by Kimberly Owczarski 

INTERNATIONAL
    • Inhabiting post-communist spaces in Nimród Antal’s Kontroll by György Kalmár
    • A 'Failed Brotherhood': Polish-Jewish relations and the films of Andrzej Wajda by Tim Kennedy 
    • "Made in Bollywood”: Indian popular culture in Brazil's Caminho das Indias by Swapnil Rai 
    • Of radio, remix, and Rang de Basanti: rethinking film history through film sound by Pavitra Sundar 
    • Cinema and neoliberalism: network form and the politics of connection in Icíar Bollaín’s Even the Rain by Shakti Jaising 
    • The revolution must (not) be advertised: The Players vs. Ángeles Caídos, the discourse of advertising, and the limits of political modernism by Greg Cohen 
    • The film as essay: Jafar Panahi’s search for self in This is Not a Film by Bebe Nodjomi 

BOOKS AND FESTIVALS
    • Buffoon queers by Andrew J. Douglas [Review of Scott Balcerzak, Buffoon Men: Classic Hollywood Comedians and Queered Masculinity (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013]).
    • Montgomery Clift: or, the ambiguities
    • by David Greven (Review of Elisabetta Girelli, Montgomery Clift, Queer Star [Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014])
    • ‘Factory of new film expressions’: Alternative Film/Video Festival, Belgrade festival review by Kamila Kuc 
CLASSICS FROM THE PAST
    • Broken Blossoms—artful racism, artful rape by Julia Lesage
SPECIAL SECTION
ACTIVIST COUNTER-CINEMA
    • Part one: Jump Cut 40th anniversary
      • Introduction by Chuck Kleinhans
      • Marxism and film criticism: the current situation (1977) by Chuck Kleinhans and Julia Lesage
      • Introduction to 
Jump Cut: Hollywood and Counter Cinema (1985) by Peter Steven
      • The Sons and Daughters of Los: culture and community in Los Angeles by David E. James
    • Part two: the current scene, recurring issues
      • Perpetual subversion by Julia Lesage
      • Flying under the radar: notes on a decade of media agitation by Ernest Larson
      • Subversive media: when, why, and where by Chuck Kleinhans
      • Activist street tapes and protest pornography: participatory media culture in the age of digital reproduction by Angela Aguayo
      • Anarchist aesthetics and U.S. video activism by Chris Robé 
    • THE LAST WORD
      • John Hess, award for activism
      • Looking back, deliciously

L'ATALANTE. REVISTA DE ESTUDIOS CINEMATOGRÁFICOS N°19You'll need to create a user account for free at this journal but once you have you'll be able to access lots of wonderful articles.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Editorial
Pablo Hernández Miñano, Violeta Martín Núñez


Notebook

Dialogue

(Dis)agreements

Vanishing Points
Notebook: Cinephile directors in modern times. When the Cinema Interrogates Itself
Table of Contents
Issue Masthead
2

Editorial
Rebeca Romero Escrivá 5

Notebook

Dialogue

(Dis)agreements

Vanishing Points

MOVIE: A JOURNAL OF FILM CRITICISM Issue 5, 2014 (Edited by Alex Clayton and Kathrina Glitre)
Jim Hillier: 1941 – 2014 - A Tribute


Other Online Items of Note (MANY MORE TO BE ADDED IN THE NEXT DAYS):