Neruda (2016). Reviewed by Stephen Borunda

Gael García Bernal in Neruda (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2016)

“If God is in my verse”

…if God is in my verse,
I am God

If God is in your distressed eyes,
you are God… (Neruda, Poetry of Neruda 6)

[Please be aware that the following film review contains spoilers.]

In his magnum opus What Is Cinema? French cinema theorist André Bazin argues that cinema is inherently a binary medium because film “is the story of the relations between expressionism and realism” (Bazin 139). Film then is a balance between what the camera physically captures (that interplay between lights, mirrors, and figures) and the possibilities for what that captured image represents (that interplay between symbols, dialogue and their implications). This Bazinian dialectic aptly describes the forces most strongly at play within the latest directorial work of Chilean director Pablo Larraín – Neruda (2016). In what could perhaps be the magnum opus of Larraín’s still burgeoning oeuvre (yes, I am partial to Neruda over his more popular 2016 film Jackie), Larraín focuses upon the true story of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s flight from his country; but within that historical account is a surrealistic story of how our identities, for better or worse, are contextual and reliant upon the people within that context. Continue reading

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Socialism on Film (SOF). Reviewed by Emmett Williams

The Socialism on Film subcollections offer a curated view of important moments in the history of socialism.

Socialism on Film (SOF) is a remarkable project, detailing the history of the most important political, philosophical, and economic movement of the last one hundred and fifty years, and its reflection on the cinema. An undertaking quite clearly years in the making, it has collected films of all kinds from nations around the globe, courtesy of the archive of the British Film Institute (BFI), from the dawn of the motion picture to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and uploaded them to the SOF database, where subscribers can view them at their leisure. The site is owned and managed by Adam Matthew Digital, in partnership with the BFI. It offers short free trials, and federated access through OpenAthens, The UK Access Management Federation, and the Deutsches Forschungsnetz Network. It is mainly targeted at educators, for obvious reasons. I was provided with trial access to SOF, which gave me full access to the site for about a month. Continue reading

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A Dog’s Purpose (2017). Reviewed by Ariana Aboulafia

A Dog’s Purpose (Universal Pictures, 2017)

Making A Dog’s Purpose into a movie probably sounded like a really good idea on paper.

After all, the novel (originally written by W. Bruce Cameron in 2010) was a #1 New York Times bestseller, selling over 2.5 million copies and inspiring Cameron to write two more books, entitled A Dog’s Journey and A Dog’s Way Home, the former of which peaked at #79 on the NYT bestseller list.[1] Numbers, as they say, don’t lie – and if book sales are any determination, it’s clear that there are millions of people who love Cameron’s tale of a dog with multiple lives, continuously searching for its meaning and an understanding of where, exactly, it fits into a mostly human-filled world. I was one of those people who loved Cameron’s written version of A Dog’s Purpose, and I still am; but, unfortunately, I cannot say that I feel the same way about Hallström’s film. Continue reading

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CFP: Cinema De-Centered

Presented by: Cinema Studies Graduate Student Association, San Francisco State University
Dates: October 19 + 20, 2017
Keynote Speaker: Stephanie Boluk & Patrick LeMieux
Contact Email:

As the primary mode of experiencing moving images has drifted from the silver screen to home entertainment and digital devices, cinema’s role in popular culture must be interrogated. Just as the digital age has forced physical film onto the brink of extinction, so too has the movie theater become a place of decreasing significance. Simultaneously, definitions of cinema continue to expand. As disciplines have coalesced around terms like “new media” and “digital media,” the increasing ephemerality of cultural objects in the digital realm should be questioned. This conference seeks to explore contemporary moving images in the context of cinema in the digital age. Approaches may include but are not limited to: historiographical accounts of cinema and digital culture, de-centering or queering normative cultural texts, exploring new genres or categories of moving images, and investigating social implications of digital media texts.

Potential topics for consideration:

  • Moving images and historicity in the digital age
  • Cinematic form in relation to other media such as: video games, social networks,
    virtual reality, etc.
  • Emergent forms of contemporary moving images
  • Moving image texts that transgress boundaries through form or content
  • Intersectional potentialities of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the digital realm
  • Temporal displacement or ephemerality in digital culture
  • Cultural studies and digital artifacts
  • Traditional cinematic forms that de-center the viewer or medium such as: slow cinema,
    experimental film, polemic film, etc.

We are accepting submissions from graduate students, lecturers, post-doctorate, adjunct faculty, and working artists of all disciplinary backgrounds. We welcome presentations and video essays on papers, films, and other forms of visual media. In order to be considered, please submit an abstract of the presentation (300-500 words) as well as a brief biographical statement (100 words) to Chase Menaker, Gabrielle Vasso, and Pavel Koshukov at

Deadline for Submissions: August 31, 2017 

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Introducing the 2017 Masoud Yazdani Award Judges

Judging for the 2017 Masoud Yazdani Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Scholarship is now underway thanks to the hard work of the following volunteer judges:

Kelli Fuery is assistant professor of Film and Media Studies at Chapman University’s Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. She did her BA (Hons) at Macquarie University in Critical and Cultural Studies, graduating in 1995 with a First. Her first graduate teaching appointment was at Royal Holloway, University of London in the Media Arts department teaching Film Theory and Analysis, Film History, and Television Studies, where she enjoyed teaching with a focus that balanced practice and theory. Since then, Fuery has held posts in contemporary Film, Media and Cultural Studies at Monash University, the University of Newcastle, Australia, and in the (now) School of Film, Media and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London. She completed her PhD (2005) at Murdoch University in Critical Theory, Film and Visual Culture. She is the author of Visual Cultures and Critical Theory (2003), and New Media: Culture and Image (2009), and has published in such journals as The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Arts & Health: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice, and Conradiana.

Travis Merchant is an adjunct instructor of Writing, Film, and Communications at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh, NC. He completed his BA degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Film Studies and English, where he also produced an Honors thesis in Film Studies. He has published in Film Matters and presented at the 2016 and 2017 Visions Film Festival and Conference.

David Resha is assistant professor of Film Studies at Emory University’s Oxford College. He completed his PhD in Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010). Prior to joining the faculty at Emory, Resha held a position at Birmingham-Southern College. Resha’s primary scholarly focus is documentary film history and aesthetics. He has authored the book, The Cinema of Errol Morris, and his articles have been published in a number of leading journals including Screening the Past and Quarterly Review of Film and Video.

Film Matters is grateful for the service that our 2017 judges are providing! And we look forward to announcing the results at some point in 2017. So watch this space!

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Forbes Announces Second Annual Under 30 Short Film Festival

Forbes announced today its second annual Under 30 Short Film Festival, a short film competition for filmmakers, under the age of 30, who are innovating and using a variety of techniques to accomplish a range of missions, from entertainment to advocacy. Submissions will be accepted beginning today through August 18, 2017.

The next generation of great moviemakers will compete for the opportunity to show their short films at the 2017 Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, October 1 – 4. The summit is expected to bring together more than 6,000 of the world’s top entrepreneurs and game changers who are leading the way in industries such as media, technology, entertainment, social good and more.

“Film is a notoriously tough industry to break into,” said Forbes’ media and entertainment reporter Madeline Berg. “But there are so many young filmmakers creating impressive and important—or just plain entertaining—content.  This is our opportunity to highlight some of those.”

Filmmakers can choose to submit their work in one of four categories: Animated, Live-Action/Theatrical, Documentary and Shot on Cellphone. Judges include industry insiders, as well as Forbes’ media and entertainment reporter Madeline Berg and associate editor Natalie Robehmed.

Winners Announced on September 15, 2017

The judges will select one winner from each of the four categories. These winners will be announced on September 15. All four category winners will receive complimentary attendance to the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, which will feature 200 world-class speakers and include keynote addresses, panels, pitch competitions, a music festival, a food festival and opportunities to meet and network with mentors from the entertainment world and beyond. At the summit, the four winning films will be shown and the audience will vote for the grand prize winner.

Last year’s Forbes Under 30 Short Film Festival received over 1,500 submissions, with live-action/theatrical short film Rest of Your Life, by Melanie Ho, taking the grand prize. The animated Hum by Thomast Teller, the documentary Where Are We Now by Lucie Rachel and The Garbage, a cellphone filmed work by Kushtrim Aslanni, took the category prizes.

How to Apply for the Forbes Under 30 Short Film Competition:

Filmmakers must be under 30 years of age at the time of the film festival (October 1, 2017) and will be required to provide proof of age with their submissions. All submissions must be under 10 minutes long, completed in 2016 or 2017, created by a filmmaker based in the United States and have subtitles if not in English. Please specify the category the film falls into at the time of submission.

Films can be submitted through or sent to Madeline Berg and Natalie Robehmed at Forbes Media, 499 Washington Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07310.

To learn more, please visit On Twitter, follow #Under30Summit.

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An Interview with Jinkyu Ahn, Experimental Animator. By Emmett Williams

Contained (Jinkyu Ahn, 2017-)

Jinkyu Ahn is an experimental animator whose work has been featured and won awards around the world, from the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards to Animaze Daze at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Ahn participated in this Film Matters interview via email in summer 2017.

Emmett Williams: Your biography, as seen on your website, is a bit sparse. Could you tell us some more about yourself, and your background?

Jinkyu Ahn: I was born in Pohang, South Korea and spent my childhood there. After studying landscape architecture in college and completing military service, I came to the United States and began studying art in Los Angeles. I first studied drawing and painting. Afterward, I earned a BFA in Character Animation and an MFA in Film and Video at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

It is typically considered a red flag to have such an eclectic academic background – going from landscape architecture to character animation to film and video may seem indicative of an unfocused mind. I saw it as strengthening my ability to express myself in a multifaceted way.

As a child, one of my favorite activities was writing poetry. However, I was limited by my youth to only written poetry – I neither had the technical know-how (and possibly the inspiration) to do more than that. However, with my studies, I can finally enjoy expressing the sensibilities of poetry in a visual, and often nonverbal, medium. Continue reading

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The Pulitzer at 100

First Run Features is proud to announce the theatrical premiere of The Pulitzer at 100, the latest documentary by Oscar- and Emmy-winning director Kirk Simon. The film opens at the prestigious Lincoln Plaza Cinema on July 21, with other cities to follow.

The Pulitzer at 100 celebrates the centenary of this revered and seminal national award for literary excellence in journalism and the arts. The totality of the Pulitzers has had an immeasurable impact on the American sensibility and beyond over the past 100 years. The riveting tales of the winning artists give an insider’s view of how these pinnacles of achievement are selected in the twenty-one categories and how the award has the power to change lives and communities. The diverse stories explored in the film relate to immigration, race, gender, and above all freedom of speech – all issues that are ever more relevant in America today.

Featuring interviews with several notable prize recipients, including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians such as Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Ayad Akhtar, Carl Bernstein, Robert Caro, Martin Baron, Nicholas Kristof, Thomas Friedman, David Remnick, Wynton Marsalis and John Adams, the film also brings Pulitzer-winning works to life through readings by Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, John Lithgow and Yara Shahidi, all of whom bring their own talents to bear on the words of their favorite writers.

Interwoven with the stories of the journalists and artists and readings is the history of the man who created it. Joseph Pulitzer, who came to America to fight as a mercenary in the Civil War, left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the School of Journalism in 1912, not only to elevate the professionalism and to improve the craft but also to establish the Pulitzer Prizes, which were first awarded in 1917. Today, both the iconic prizes and the prominence of the School of Journalism at Columbia represent the highest standards of integrity and excellence in writing.

A thoughtful and colorful tapestry of the last 100 years of journalistic and artistic life in America, The Pulitzer at 100 is an illuminating and thought-provoking work that will spark the imagination of viewers, marking the beginning of a re-exploration and revisiting of the astonishing power of literature, in all forms, that have enriched our lives, whilst containing a century-long social commentary on the human condition, wherein lie many answers to the problems manifested in the world today.

There are more than a thousand recipients of this prestigious award including journalists, novelists, poets, musicians and photographers and this film has been made from the most valuable of resources, the artists themselves, many of whom are featured in The Pulitzer at 100:

  • Carl Bernstein, The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, 1973
  • Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting & Affairs, 1983,1988 & 2002
  • Martin Baron, Editor of The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, National Reporting and Explanatory Journalism, 2014, 2015 & 2016
  • Robert Caro, Pulitzer Prize for Biography, 1975 & 2003
  • David Remnick, Editor-in-Chief of The New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 1994
  • Sheri Fink, Pulitzer Winner for Investigative Reporting, 2010 & 2015
  • Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting and Commentary, 1990 & 2006
  • Carol Leonnig, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and National Reporting, 2014 & 2015
  • Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2012
  • Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1999
  • Paula Vogel, writer of How I Learned To Drive, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1998
  • Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2008
  • Wynton Marsalis, Pulitzer Prize for Music, 1997
  • John Adams, Pulitzer Prize for Music, 2003
  • Nick Ut, Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, 1973

Continue reading

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From “Looking-Into” to “Living-Into”: Theorizing Existentialism in Cinema. By Karan Tripathi

Isabelle Huppert and Andre Marcon in L’avenir/Things to Come (Les Films du Losange, 2016)

In the early scenes of L’avenir (Things to Come, 2016) we see a French artist resting in peace at a place where he wanted to submerge himself in the music of winds and sea till the eternity. Commenting on the same, Heinz (Andre Marcon) tells Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) that music is not only felt, it is seen. As the movie progresses, we see Nathalie experiencing the same contradiction, a semiotic rather, in her own self. We see her exploring and experiencing the various interpretations of herself, a development of an empathy she creates with the space and circumstances. In a cinematic construction that enables it, we see Nathalie oscillating from a life which she “thinks” of being hers and the life she somehow indulges herself with. It is the fascinating movement of her identity from the past to the present to the future and the constant divergence of it all that made me question the idea of linearity and unity of life and identity. Continue reading

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Anna Kendrick: Acting Real in Tinseltown. By Luke Batten



This first academic piece on Anna Kendrick examines her constructed and individualistic off-screen and on-screen persona, with particular emphasis on the prevailing issues of patriarchy within the film industry. This is achieved through a study of the representation of women within the melodrama, romantic comedy/chick flick, fantasy, and musical genres of film, whilst considering Kendrick’s own perspective on the subject from interviews and her observations in her memoir Scrappy Little Nobody. The aim of this article is to further discourse on the representation of women within the aforementioned genres, and interrogate the portrayal of the female performer more broadly, both on- and off-screen.

Chapter one of this dissertation analyzes Kendrick’s off-screen depiction in conjunction with her child star status, celebrity culture, and social media. The following chapter investigates her on-screen personality as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air and Beca Mitchell in Pitch Perfect, the films which brought her to international recognition as an actor. The final chapter of this work evaluates her more recent on-screen characterization as Cinderella in Into the Woods and Cathy Hiatt in The Last Five Years.

Author Biography

Luke Batten is a film and TV graduate from the UK currently working part-time whilst he pursues his aspirations as a writer. His primary interest is in contemporary American film, with his approach to film criticism focused on films’ sociological implications. He has a great passion for both mainstream and independent film, and has contributed to Diegesis Magazine.

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