Death by Hanging (1968). Reviewed by Film Matters Spring 2017 Editorial Board

Death by Hanging Criterion Blu-ray Review from Liza Palmer

Contributors: Lizzie Bankowski, Tayler Camplin, Chandler Mackenzie Comes, Michael Edwards Jr., Kenneth L. Freyer, Bobby Hartman, Claire Kalb, Megan Kiss, Jeremy Meyers, Kimberly Mariah Smallwood, Chamberlain Staub, Stephanie L. Triplett, Emmett Williams, and Kelli Wofford.

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Cinemedia CFP: Cinemas of Distraction

In his 1926 essay “Cult of Distraction,” Siegfried Kracauer drew attention to the recently constructed grand movie theaters of the time, calling them “palaces of distraction” and “shrines to the cultivation of pleasure.”  In such palaces, he wrote, “the stimulations of the senses succeed each other with such rapidity that there is no room left for even the slightest contemplation to squeeze in between them.”

Today, these distracting stimulations—and our attraction to them—seem only to have increased.  Yet, while distraction is generally seen in negative terms, as a loss of focus or deficit of attention, distraction also hints at the possibility of a radically new means of seeing the world, in which we become increasingly capable of absorbing images, sounds and information from multiple sources at once.

What, then, might “cinemas of distraction” look like?   What films or other media would exemplify distraction, from Eisenstein’s “montage of attractions to Vertov’s A Man with a Movie Camera to Nam June Paik’s multi-screen video installations, from YouTube videos to interactive documentaries to video games?

We seek essays, films, and other media (including new media) that address the topic of Cinemas of Distraction for the initial issue of the new online journal of the School of Cinema: Cinemedia.  We are particularly interested in works that offer new and innovative ways of thinking about distraction and its possibilities, including works that make creative use of distractive techniques.

Suggested Deadline for Submissions:  April 24, 2017
Send to:  cinemedia AT

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Debt in History CFP

Department of English
University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada
18-19 May 2018

At a Q&A that followed a Toronto screening of Little Men (2016), a film about two families’ battle over a lease and its impact on the lives of its central protagonists, director Ira Sachs reflected on the modern-day struggle of many families to remain in the middle class. Sachs’s film speaks to the primacy of economics in discourse. Recent scholarship has shown the value of reading film and literature economically. The enormously influential work of David Graeber, Mary Poovey, Margot C. Finn, Julian Hoppit, Sandford Borins, Audrey Jaffe, Margaret Atwood, and others have opened up new avenues for thinking about money and the humanities. This conference aims both to consolidate and to advance criticism in literature, film, philosophy, and cultural studies by attending to some incarnations of debt and analyzing their wider implications.

Abstracts of 250 words (with 50-word biographies) for 20-minute papers are invited on any aspect of economics and the humanities, as are proposals for panels of three or four papers on clearly defined themes. Submissions on creative projects that link research and creative writing and/or performance are warmly encouraged. Selected proceedings of academic work will be published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed e-journal Literature Compass (

Possible themes and topics:

  • Capitalism
  • Capital
  • Inheritance
  • Faith
  • Credibility
  • Chance
  • Marxism
  • Interest
  • Commerce
  • Trade
  • Liberalism
  • Finances
  • Housing
  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Banks
  • Credit
  • Debit
  • Ranking
  • Poverty
  • Labour
  • Forgiveness
  • Cash
  • Stocks
  • Forgery
  • Political Economy
  • Colonialism
  • Wealth

The first deadline for submissions is 1 August 2017. Details of keynote speakers, roundtables, performances, and film screenings will be announced, as they become available, on our conference Facebook page ( and on Twitter @DebtinHistory. Queries, proposals, and suggestions for collaboration may be directed to Dr Tom Ue at: ue_tom AT This project is supported by the Department of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

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Filmatique Screens Post-Soviet Cinema in April

During the month of April, Filmatique will screen films from a constellation of post-Soviet nations — Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Georgia. These countries have all declared independence in the wake of the disintegration of the former USSR.  However, remnants of a fallen empire, to which they all once belonged, pervade the region’s collective consciousness to this day.

Filmatique’s Post-Soviet Cinema Series posits a fundamental question: how to interpret borders that reveal themselves as arbitrary— imaginary and constantly shifting lines between one country and the next, between the colonial past and a way forward, between the preservation of traditional ways of life and a diaspora of young people who seek out the promise of urban life. This dualism is present in the series’s first film— Heavenly Nomadic — which captures the rhythms of Kyrgyzstan’s paradisiacal mountain gorges. True Noon and Nabat depict rural life on the brink of disappearance, while Adventure and Keep Smiling portray urban desperation in Almaty and Tbilisi.

Often, the protagonists are women forced to survive by whatever means they can. Filmatique’s Post-Soviet Cinema Series showcases exciting new voices from an oft-forgotten part of the world, exploring the lingering effects of war as well as notions of history, identity, community, poverty, and hope.

In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, Mirlan Abdykalykov, director of Heavenly Nomadic, discusses the importance of ecology, narrative traditions in Kyrgyzstan and his next project.

Filmatique’s new streaming service introduces films that are socially, culturally, or politically relevant to audiences – often for the first time. The ultimate filmgoer’s dream online movie site.

Filmatique is available to US audiences for $4.95/month, with a 30-day free trial. There is a rotating library with 24 films: each week, a new film comes in.

In March, Filmatique emphasized its collection on cinema from banned nations, in April it is exploring post-Soviet cinema, and in May it will showcase new Asian voices.

*Below is a full line-up of post-Soviet cinema on Filmatique:

  • March 30 / Heavenly Nomadic (Mirlan Abdykalykov / Kyrgyzstan, 2015)
  • April 6 / True Noon (Nosir Saidov / Tajikistan, 2009)
  • April 13 / Nabat (Elchin Musaoglu / Azerbaijan, 2014)
  • April 20 / Adventure (Nariman Turebayev / Kazakhstan, 2014)
  • April 27 / Keep Smiling (Rusudan Chkonia / Georgia, 2012)
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Announcing Themed CFP 9.2

Film Matters is officially announcing a themed call for papers — on neglected cinemas and post-global politics — for consideration in issue 9.2 (2018), guest edited by Kelli Fuery and students at Chapman University. The deadline is September 1, 2017.  Undergraduates and recent graduates, please submit your theme-related research papers today!

For more information, please download the official document (PDF):

Submissions and questions should be directed to:

  • kfuery AT

Please note that Film Matters does not accept submissions that are currently under review by other journals or magazines.

Our guest editors look forward to receiving your papers!

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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

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