Introduction: Videographic Essays (Issue 1, 2017). By Allison de Fren & Adam Charles Hart

The utilization of digital technologies and audiovisual materials to present film and media research and analysis is gaining increasing acceptance as an alternative to the written scholarly essay. Whether called the “video essay,” “audiovisual essay,” or “visual essay,” videographic criticism presents an exciting opportunity for media scholars to think and write using the very materials that constitute their object of study—moving image and sound. This new initiative at Film Matters aims to highlight the excellent, innovative video essays being made by undergraduates, and to encourage students—as well as faculty— to create and share their audiovisual scholarship. Continue reading

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Identifying (with) a Murderer: Six Steps Towards Sympathy. By Ciara Wardlow

Identifying (with) a Murderer: Six Steps Towards Sympathy from Ciara Wardlow on Vimeo.

Identifying (with) a Murderer: Six Steps Towards Sympathy
Ciara Wardlow, Wellesley College

Making video essays, I usually follow a certain methodology. I select a film, usually having a vague idea or perhaps several half-formed ones, and then do exhaustive amounts of research. I keep reading until I feel I have a good idea of what has been written thus far about the film in question—the major themes and arguments, the most influential writings, things of that nature—because only then do I know what has not been written yet. From there, I build my final argument and then start working on the actual making of the video. If there is one thing linking all my video essays, it is the desire to make an argument that is new; to truly challenge myself and my ability to analyze a film. Continue reading

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Reversing the Gaze: Empowering the Other in Wes Anderson Films. By Shannon Shikles

Reversing the Gaze: Empowering the “Other” in Wes Anderson Films from Shannon Shikles on Vimeo.

Reversing the Gaze: Empowering the Other in Wes Anderson Films
Shannon Shikles, Eckerd College

This video essay argues for a reevaluation of Wes Anderson’s films in relation to issues of race and gender. As I discuss, Anderson’s films, including The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), have been criticized for their reinforcement of white masculinity as a source of power, often expressed through access to the male gaze as defined by Laura Mulvey and Jane Gaines. However, I would argue instead that Anderson’s films present a comic world where the white male is not dominant or composed, but rather a struggling and emotionally bottled individual. As parodies of hegemonic representations of race and power, Anderson’s films highlight often-unconscious ideologies so that the spectator disidentifies with the film’s traditional male protagonists and so questions their empowered position. The audience is then aligned with the “other” in the film, taking an oppositional view of the white male protagonist. Continue reading

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The Eye Is the Heart: Metropolis and the Kino-Eye. By Sophia Kornitsky

The Eye is the Heart: Metropolis and the Kino-Eye from Sophia Kornitsky on Vimeo.

The Eye Is the Heart: Metropolis and the Kino-Eye
Sophia Kornitsky, Wellesley College

In my audiovisual essay, I want to highlight the often-neglected theoretical significance Metropolis (Lang, 1927) has to offer. Many scholars view screenwriter Thea von Harbou’s message— “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart!”—as overly sentimental. After watching the film, particularly the somewhat modernist sequence of the Android’s dance, I feel this cannot be the case. By applying Dziga Vertov’s notion of the kino-eye to an analysis of the film, some rather intriguing questions are raised and answered. Continue reading

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Open Call for Undergraduate Videographic Film Scholarship (Issue 2, 2018)

Film Matters is excited to announce the next call for videographic film scholarship by undergraduate students—an initiative managed by Allison de Fren, Adam Hart, Christina Peterson, and Maurizio Viano.

For more information about this opportunity, including specific instructions for formatting submissions, please download the official document:

The deadline is October 1, 2017.

Questions and submissions should be directed to Allison de Fren, Adam Hart, Christina Peterson, and Maurizio Viano at: VideographicFM AT gmail.com

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The Epistemology of Moonlight (2016). Reviewed by Sarah Foulkes

Little (Alex R. Hibbert) and Juan (Mahershala Ali) in Moonlight

If mainstream cinema is upheld to the task of democratically representing its viewers then it often fails. So when a film comes out that depicts marginalized figures it’s passed under the kind of scrutiny that a lot of other films evade. As if clinging to a lifeboat of fair representation, critics and audiences look for holes in the raft – sometimes discarding it entirely, or patching it up with forgiving praise. But Barry Jenkins’s film Moonlight​ (2016) has proven to be an indestructible raft (but not by any means “tear”-proof). As we are prone to do when talking about films depicting minorities, we compare it to those that came before them. Indeed, two of the most notable queer films from this century are Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Carol (2015).​ They both take place in pre-Stonewall America. But Moonlight​ is set in the present and the twenty-odd years leading up to it. Though Moonlight​ couldn’t be more different from those two aforementioned films, all three share a significant similarity: none of these films stages a coming out scene. In the films set before the 1969 Stonewall riots, coming out is an unwise, if not unthinkable, decision. With characters forced out of the closet and their secret used against them. Indeed, a lot of queer narratives play out like detective stories. Who will find out the secret and what will they do with that knowledge? Continue reading

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Capturing the Artist in Time: The Joyful Energy of Agnes Varda: Agnes Varda: From Here to There. Reviewed by Mina Radovic

Agnes Varda: From Here to There (Cinema Guild, 2014)

The five-part documentary series Agnes Varda: From Here to There, directed by the resolute Agnes Varda and released by Cinema Guild, follows the filmmaker as she traverses the globe, meeting with friends, filmmakers (including Chris Marker and Manoel de Oliveira), artists, and locals, and visiting various art exhibits and film premieres. Her travelogue reveals a personal observational insight into the contemporary art scene, highlighting the importance of valuing the most underrepresented and seemingly absurd of innovations in today’s globalized world. Continue reading

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Call for Undergraduate Reviewers

Film Matters is seeking current undergraduate students to review a few Criterion releases and recent academic titles for us.  The available items are listed below:

Criterions (if a title has TAKEN by it, it has already been claimed):

  • TAKEN 45 Years Blu-ray (Haigh, 2015)
  • TAKEN Canoa: A Shameful Memory Blu-ray (Cazals, 1976)
  • Fox and His Friends DVD (Fassbinder, 1975)
  • Multiple Maniacs Blu-ray (Waters, 1970)
  • TAKEN Something Wild DVD (Garfein, 1961)
  • TAKEN Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Blu-ray (Almodovar, 1988)

Books (if a title has TAKEN by it, it has already been claimed):

  • TAKEN Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America, by Michael Z. Newman (MIT)
  • On the Eve of the Future: Selected Writings on Film, by Annette Michelson (MIT)
  • Sweet and Lowdown: Woody Allen’s Cinema of Regret, by Lloyd Michaels (Wallflower)

Students interested in this opportunity should email a brief statement of interest to Liza (futurefilmscholars AT gmail.com), indicating your preferred selection, as well as your name, affiliation, and any relevant qualifications for reviewing a specific title (like past course work, etc.).

Priority will be given to emails received before March 17, 2017.

Students who are selected for this opportunity will receive a review copy of the item in exchange for the completed review.

Deadlines for reviews to be submitted to Liza will be September 1, 2017.

This is an excellent way to build experience and CVs and we look forward to hearing from you!

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CPH:DOX Announces Nominees for Festival Competitions

CPH:DOX, one of the world’s largest documentary film festivals, announces the nominees in the four festival competitions and introduces a fifth addition for the first time.

NEXT:WAVE is the title of the new competition, launched by CPH:DOX together with their main sponsor Normann Copenhagen. NEXT:WAVE is dedicated to international emerging talents,  young up-and-coming filmmakers who have the courage to take chances and stand out on the international film scene. The competition includes feature-length and short films, including eight world premieres.

In collaboration with Normann Copenhagen CPH:DOX launches a new competition for international emerging talents, the NEXT:WAVE Award. Here you will find nine nominated films, including five world premieres, such as the playful Argentinian debut 1996 Lucy and the Corpses in the Pool and an exploration of fables, folklore and Persian mythology in the hybrid fairytale Janbal. The winner of the NEXT:WAVE Award will receive 2,000€.

More information about the nominees for NEXT:WAVE Award: https://cphdox.dk/en/cphdox-and-normann-copenhag

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHLJdOwBHxc

See all the nominees in CPH:DOX’s competitions at: https://cphdox.dk/program/program-2017/

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Interview with Jeremy Borum. By Ty Johnson

Jeremy Borum is a film composer and well-established artist in Hollywood. Not only has he composed for dozens of major projects, he teaches seminars, performs for enormous audiences, has built multiple studios, and even co-owns ZMX Music, a digital sheet music publisher. Most recently, his accomplishments include becoming a published author. After reading his end result, Guerrilla Film Scoring, I called him to talk about his inspirations for the book, and why he saw such an inherent need for a work such as this.

Ty Johnson: Tell me a bit about you and Guerrilla Film Scoring.

Jeremy Borum: I’m a pretty busy film composer and orchestrator in Hollywood. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve always focused on large ensembles. So my expertise is with large orchestras and big bands; conducting, managing the sheet music, all of these sort of live elements, which are increasingly and unfortunately rare in this industry. People don’t get big orchestras all that often. So there’s an increasing need to, with a smaller budget and with a smaller time frame, still chart out something that sounds equally good as the live orchestra you wish you had. That was kind of the feed for the idea for the book. You know, the standards are not dropping, the expectations remain the same, but budgets and schedules are shrinking constantly, and so there needed to be some sort of a guide for how to actually do that without sacrificing your art, and that didn’t exist until I made it. Continue reading

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