I Am Jane Doe (2017). Reviewed by Ariana Aboulafia

Every once in a while, a film – in this case,  a documentary – comes along on a particular topic that is so eye-opening that it makes you stop and ask yourself how in the hell you didn’t know about it earlier.

I Am Jane Doe (2017) is one of these films.

I Am Jane Doe is a documentary, currently available on Netflix Instant, that exposes the human trafficking industry in the United States and analyzes the ways that Backpage.com, the country’s second-largest classifieds website, facilitates it. It tells the story of three teenaged girls who were trafficked on the website and who are all now fighting alongside their mothers to bring Backpage down through the courts of their respective states. More importantly, it brings an issue that most people would prefer to pretend does not exist into sharp, and disturbingly clear, light. Continue reading

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Lost in Translation (2003). Reviewed by Niko Pajkovic

Lost in Translation (Focus Features, 2003)

“I just don’t know what I am supposed to be,” explains Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) to the washed-up movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) as both characters quietly contemplate their lives. It is a question steeped in naïve uncertainty and existential longing, as well as one that serves as the emotional and philosophical underpinning of Lost in Translation (2003) – an atmospheric, melancholy, and at times hilarious romantic comedy from director Sofia Coppola. Lost in Translation manages to avoid the trappings of other indie films with a similar feel by offering an exploration of the complexity of human relationships, depicting an unlikely couple that bond through shared feelings of being lost. Continue reading

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Announcing Open Call for Papers 10.1

Film Matters is officially announcing our open call for papers for consideration in issue 10.1 (2019) — the deadline is February 1, 2018.

Starting with this issue, Film Matters is officially adopting MLA 8th edition style (and moving away from 7th edition guidelines) — so please prepare your submissions accordingly.  Purdue OWL’s MLA Formatting and Style Guide (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/) is an excellent resource to consult, in this regard.

For more information about this call for papers, please download the official document (PDF):

Submissions and questions should be directed to:

  • futurefilmscholars AT gmail.com

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

Undergraduates and recent graduates, please submit your film-related research papers today!  We look forward to receiving your papers!

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Filmatique. Reviewed by Emmett Williams

Filmatique (http://www.filmatique.com/) is a website that caters mainly to people who have grown tired of Netflix’s inconsistent quality and poor user interface. It offers fresh, new, and mostly foreign, films, from unknown directors and exotic locales. The site organizes these films into collections, in which each film has a common theme that connects it to the others; for example, Filmatique recently uploaded the “Post-Soviet Cinema” collection, which contains films from the former Soviet Bloc, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Georgia. These films concerned themselves with, among other things, the progression of technology and its encroachment on the traditional lifestyle of the Central Asian people. Continue reading

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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: CSGSA@mail.sfsu.edu

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 CSGSA@mail.sfsu.edu.

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 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/ForbesUnder30FilmFestival or sent to Madeline Berg and Natalie Robehmed at Forbes Media, 499 Washington Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07310.

To learn more, please visit www.forbes.com/forbes-live/event/under-30-boston. On Twitter, follow #Under30Summit.

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