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Medium 9780253014078

1. To Arrive at the Station: Trains of Thought

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Ever since that fine day in 1895 when the Lumière brothers’ train arrived at the Salon Indien of the Grand Café in Paris and people got out and walked, walking hasn’t quite been the same.

Walking, our birthright as a species, frees our arms to swing in the air, relaxing the prehensile hand. Arms, freed from locomotion high up in trees, swing, creating a dynamic equilibrium as we raise one foot at a time to walk. The swinging arms harness kinetic energy in a cross-diagonal movement linking the latissimus dorsi muscle of the upper back with the pelvis. Banal movements, and yet we are astonished when we watch a child take her first steps (with arms held up for balance, as in an orant gesture of prayer). To the dear ones who scream in astonished delight, those first steps appear as nothing short of a miracle.1

As a film student, Kumar Shahani, with his guru, Ritwik Ghatak, would repeatedly screen the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at the Station at the Indian Film School in Pune. They would find themselves laughing each time in jubilation at the miraculous arrival of the train, signaling the mechanization of time, the regularization of movement, and the birth of an eye without an I; perception freed from the ego and hence from human prejudice, privilege, and social hierarchy. It would appear, then, that the arrival of the train at the station is also the greeting of one machine by another, the cinematograph greeting the train, recognizing their secret affinity in the creation of modern time. This rapport between these two machines of equalized movement and framed, mobile perception endows a strange visibility to spaces, objects, bodies, and rhythms without privileging the human. This nonanthropomorphic eye shows us the railway platform emptied of the people who have arrived and departed with as much care or indifference as it does the reflective surface of the train carriage on which the shadows of the people flicker as they walk past. An any-instant-whatever becomes perceptible and eventful, or not, making the spatiotemporal playing field level because of the mechanization of time, either at sixteen or twenty-four frames per second. Therefore, despite the effect of convergence built into the perspectival geometric bias of the optics of lensing, this mechanical nonorganic eye looks at the world in a manner foreign to our organic eye, attached to our body and its necessarily limited interests and prejudices. Shahani’s and Ghatak’s jubilation in the 1960s is remarkable in that the very first viewers of this pioneering film, scholars tell us, felt not only the thrill of the encounter (screaming in delightful terror) as the train came toward them but also the sinking feeling that it was “freighted with emptiness,” an instant enchantment and disenchantment, both in one long minute or so.2

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Medium 9780861967179

Chapter 8 Mobilizing Movies: the U.S. Signal Corps and the Committee on Public Information

James W Castellan John Libbey Publishing ePub

The American entry into the war soon attracted increased attention by the authorities to film censorship and control. In April 1917 the U.S. Attorney General in Pittsburgh requested the Pennsylvania Board of Censorship to stop exhibiting three films, including the movies Civilization and War Brides, because these productions were considered pacifistic and so had a bad influence on public opinion. In Ohio the censors themselves took action and announced all war films would be checked intensively. Senator George Allen Davis from Buffalo, New York, proposed that the Federal Government ban all films with graphic scenes of the war because these would have a detrimental effect on recruitment.

Just a few days after the declaration of war by Congress, the Federal authorities began communicating with the film companies on ways to deal with war-related footage. Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, sent a letter to all newsreel companies asking them not to show any scenes of navy ships, naval exercises or preparations for war unless these films had been approved by his department. This complicated the production of newsreels significantly. To make matters even more difficult there were no official guidelines yet on what sort of film scenes could be recorded or regulations on securing an official permit to produce such films. Not until August 1917, four months after entry into the war, did the Committee on Public Information (CPI), the U.S. wartime propaganda and censorship agency, provide guidelines to American film producers. One of the most significant measures was the regulation that no photographers would be permitted to accompany the army abroad on active service in the war zone except official photographers in the government service (shades of the European authorities in 1914!).

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Medium 9780861967155

Chapter 1 Distribution Center for Experimental Films

Edited by David E James and Adam Hyman John Libbey Publishing ePub

Curtis Harrington *

The postwar revival of the experimental film movement in the United States, which Lewis Jacobs wrote about in detail in the Spring, 1948, issue of the Hollywood Quarterly, has resulted in the formation of a coöperative distribution center to extend the distribution of these films through film societies, universities, art museums, and galleries, and all interested groups and private individuals. The organization has been named Creative Film Associates, and represents the attempt of the film makers to get together on a coöperative basis to insure the widest possible circulation of their work.

Already available for rental from Creative Film Associates is its Program I, which includes Film Exercises 4 and 5 by John and James Whitney, Fragment of Seeking by Curtis Harrington, Meta by Robert Howard, and Escape Episode by Kenneth Anger. Also available are a program of films by Maya Deren – Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, A Study in Choreography for Camera, and Ritual in Transfigured Time – and Kenneth Anger’s much-discussed Fireworks. Further releases are to be made in the near future. For the convenience of those who wish to rent an evening’s program of experimental works without facing the almost impossible task of assembling a group of films from a wide variety of sources – usually, heretofore, from the individual film makers themselves – several of the films have been put together by Creative Film Associates to form a balanced, forty-five-minute program, which is available at a rental rate lower than the total of fees for each film rented separately.

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Medium 9780253013873

3 Zombie Spaces

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

New York City in death was very much like New York City in life. It was still hard to get a cab, for example. The main difference was that there were fewer people.

Colson Whitehead, Zone One

Over the past decade the zombie has been transformed from a movie monster that appeared primarily in American underground cinema and Italian horror films to a ubiquitous trope in popular culture. Instantly recognizable to general global audiences, yet flexible enough to serve both as a legitimate monster and as the punch line to a bad joke, the figure of the mindless undead has clearly found resonance in late capitalist culture and has been connected to a wide range of concepts and ideas. In the same way that Marx and Engels related the system of industrial capitalism to the figure of the vampire, many critics have pointed out that our postindustrial obsession with zombies is no coincidence: “the nineteenth century, with its classic régime of industrial capitalism, was the age of the vampire, but the network society of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries is rather characterized by a plague of zombies” (Shaviro 282).

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Medium 9780253009234

14. Karishika with Kiswahili Flavor: A Nollywood Film Retold by a Tanzanian Video Narrator

Edited by Matthias Krings and Onookome O Indiana University Press ePub


A NIGERIAN MISE-EN-SCÈNE OF HELL FILLS THE SCREEN. WHILE Satan sends his female assistant to the world of the living, the Kiswahili voice-over announces the background to the impending drama: “Karishika was sent into a world full of evil in order to afflict people and to win them over for the devil.” A few seconds later the narrator continues: “She is called Becky Okorie, and she plays Karishika.” Now her face becomes visible, she straightens up, and the invisible Kiswahili narrator switches to direct speech in the first person: “I am here at home in Nigeria, at Lagos. I am greeting all Tanzanians who are in Dar es Salaam. May God bless you!” Meanwhile, the screen is filled with a close-up of Karishika's face, her eyes beaming in electric blue rays symbolizing her otherworldly powers, and the narrator continues: “One day, I will come, and you will see me, King Rich, with your own eyes, and I will continue to narrate Nigerian films.”

In Tanzanian video parlors, narrators are performing live translations of foreign films into Kiswahili so local audiences can follow the story. They are also ad-libbing, adding observations and personal commentary, and adapting the stories to a local hermeneutic framework. Pirated video copies of foreign films are thus subject to a profound practice of remediation. Recently, some video narrators also began selling their work as VHS cassettes and DVDS with Kiswahili voice-over. In this chapter, I will introduce one such video narrator, King Rich, who specializes in the interpretation of Nollywood films, and one of his works, the narration of Karishika – a Nigerian video film with strong Pentecostal imprint.

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Medium 9780253017451

Part 2: Maciste: In Focus

Jacqueline Reich Indiana University Press ePub

The restoration of Maciste was carried out by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Turin (MNC) and by the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna (CB, now Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna), from a nitrate positive, tinted and toned print with Dutch intertitles, preserved at the Nederlands Filmmuseum in Amsterdam (now EYE Film Institute Netherlands). The texts of the Italian intertitles were reconstructed according to the censorship certificate, the production notes, and the photographic slides of the intertitles preserved at the MNC. A duplicate negative and a positive copy colored by the Desmet method were printed. The work was carried out at the laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata (IR) in 2006. In the restoration of the Maciste series it was decided to insert ten black frames to signal the missing parts. They constitute barely perceptible brief flashes that seek to signal important discoveries in the film’s reconstruction without compromising the pleasure of storytelling.

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Medium 9780253011046

6 The Problem of Heteroglossia in Early Soviet Sound Cinema (1930–35)

Edited by Lilya Kaganovsky and Masha Sal Indiana University Press ePub

Evgeny Margolit

LET ME START with a clarification: the problem of heteroglossia or multilingualism (raznoiazychie) in early Soviet sound cinema is a problem for today’s film historians; the filmmakers and film critics of the period did not consider it as such. Indeed, one of the artists who used multiple untranslated languages as a principal device in his early sound films—Ivan Kavaleridze, a prominent figure of the Ukrainian avant-garde—and even coined the term, devoted no more than a few paragraphs to the practice in his memoirs, which were written some thirty years after the fact.1 And yet those first years of sound cinema saw the release of about a dozen films—Soviet film studios produced about twenty sound films a year on average in the first half of the 1930s—that showcased a broad range of heteroglossic strategies.

Outside of the Soviet Union, we also find the practice of heteroglossia in German cinema of the same period, just prior to Hitler’s rise to power (e.g., in Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Kameradschaft [1931]; in Das blaue Licht [The Blue Light, 1932], directed by Arnold Fanck and Leni Riefenstahl from a script by Béla Balázs; in Niemandsland [No Man’s Land, 1931], directed by Victor Trivas, himself a Russian émigré), as well as in the experimental work of the Czech novelist, screenwriter, and director Vladislav Vancura (e.g., Marijka Nevernice [1935]). Yet even in the well-known Kameradschaft, in which bilingualism is an integral element of the dramatic plot, a translation of the foreign dialogue appears in subtitles. By contrast, Soviet cinema rejected translation in such cases as a matter of course. This holds true not only for Kavaleridze’s Koliivshchina (By Water and Smoke, 1933) and Prometei (Prometheus, 1936), or Boris Barnet’s classic Okraina (The Outskirts, 1933), but also for a broad range of lesser-known films that share at least one thing in common: typically these are significant works of art, situated (from a modern perspective) in one way or another outside of the contemporaneous cinematic mainstream. I emphasize “modern perspective” because many of these films went unnoticed at the time (e.g., Tommy [1931], the first sound film by the patriarch of Russian cinema, Yakov Protazanov), disappeared from view because they were banned (e.g., Moia rodina [My Native Land, 1933], by Iosif Heifits and Alexander Zarkhi, and, once more, Prometheus), or were never considered in terms of their heteroglossia (e.g., Putevka v zhizn’ [Road to Life, 1931], directed by Nikolai Ekk, the first Soviet “fully talking picture”).

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Medium 9780253014887


Alice Osborne Lovejoy Indiana University Press ePub


Alexander Dubček resigned in April 1969. That summer, under his replacement, First Secretary Gustáv Husák, the prolonged process of “cleansing” Czechoslovak society of its reformist elements began. In spite of this, Army Film remained confident in its late-1960s course. Stanislav Čeřovský, in his summary report for 1969, continued to emphasize the social and military relevance of the studio’s critical films, particularly to Czechoslovakia’s youth. “The living environment, free time or ‘moral profile’ of [military] youth,” he wrote,

is connected with … these issues in [soldiers’] civilian lives, both before and after their time in the Army, which, in turn, strongly influence their time in the Army. … We can therefore demonstrate and confirm that these two spheres of Czechoslovak society cannot be separated, that they interpenetrate each other—and thus they must be interwoven in the Army studio’s work. It is true that this issue is a very difficult one—not only from an artistic standpoint, but also from an ideological standpoint. However, this difficulty does not mean we should disregard it; on the contrary, we must consider it with intensive attention and approach it with a very thoughtful, long-term philosophy and with serious, scholarly preparation of each treatment and screenplay.1

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Medium 9780253002952

14 El Macho: How the Women of Teatro Luna Became Men Paloma Martínez-Cruz & Liza Ann Acosta

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub


ma·cho adj
having or showing characteristics conventionally regarded as typically male, especially physical strength and courage, aggressiveness, and lack of emotional response

a male who displays conventionally typical masculine characteristics1

If we accept Schechner’s claim that performance is “twice behaved behavior,” we must then ask, what is the force of that repetition?2


The play Machos, created and performed by Teatro Luna, Chicago’s all-Latina theatre company, illuminates the project of el macho. Accepting performance as “twice behaved behavior,” Machos interrogates the echoes of patriarchal conventions by dramatizing the boundaries of normative masculinity. The force compelling repetition of el macho’s gestures, vocabulary, and drives is immediate and all-encompassing: minutes into the play, the cast, donning contemporary urban Latino drag, tells us, “I learned it from my dad.” Socialization of the macho begins at birth and is reinforced at every juncture with pressures from peer groups, by mass communication, and by intimate relations and strangers alike. To relinquish any aspect of the performance of machismo is to be deemed less than a man. Our paper on Teatro Luna’s staged iteration of this high-stakes repertoire submits that the company’s performance of gender is a political act that ultimately awakens audience members to their own complicity in the construal of machismo: the revelation that gender is a ritual, rather than a biological imperative, implies that we are each an officiant laying down the liturgy of el macho. As an anti-oppression theater project, the ultimate aim of Machos is to denaturalize the binary construct of woman/man that habilitates patriarchal hegemony and to activate new social engagement with gender and sexuality as a dynamic continuum, a process of becoming, rather than a state of being.

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Medium 9781864620542

Unaltered to Date: Developing 35mm Film

John Libbey Publishing ePub

At the end of the year 1889, I increased the width of the picture from ½ inch to ¾ inch, then, to 1 in. by ¾ in. high. The actual width of the film was 1in. to allow for the perforations now punched on both edges, four holes to the phase or picture, which perforations were a shade smaller than those now in use. This standardized film size of 1889 has remained, with only minor variations unaltered to date.

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, 1933.1

When Thomas Edison introduced his Kinetoscope in April 1894, it used a film that is almost identical with the 35mm film used today – the same width and with four similar perforations on each side of the image. W.K.L. Dickson’s abridged account is accurate except for the date, which he exaggerated in his eagerness to reinforce Edison’s claim that his invention preceded all competitors. At the end of 1891 and the beginning of 1892 Dickson made the changes which resulted in a film 35mm wide.

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Medium 9780253021342

3. Selling the President: Stand-Up Comedy and the Politricks of Endorsement

David Afriyie Donkor Indiana University Press ePub

ON MAY 11, 1995, a coalition of political opposition leaders in Ghana known as the Alliance for Change organized a demonstration they called Kum-me-preko (Kill me once and for all). The immediate cause of this protest was President Jerry Rawlings’s decision to implement a new 17.5 percent value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services. Rawlings enacted the new tax in an attempt to meet the requirements of Ghana’s “structural adjustment program”—a series of drastic policy changes mandated by debt-holding international finance institutions (IFIs). The VAT was intended to make up for the loss of revenues caused by the concurrent lowering of the corporate tax rate and the elimination of import and export tariffs. In effect, these tax reforms were designed to shift revenue burdens away from large-scale businesses and toward consumers, thereby creating a more inviting climate for private investment in Ghana.1 Unsurprisingly, the new tax policy immediately came under fire from labor unions and the general public for increasing the tax burden on the poor and in some cases catapulting the prices of goods and services out of the reach of ordinary citizens. The organizers of the Kum-me-preko protest called the VAT a “gruesome policy measure.”2

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Medium 9780253006462

Chapter 5 Power, Citizenship, and Local Content: A Critical Reading of the Broadcasting Services Act

Katrina Daly Thompson Indiana University Press ePub

The interests which a discourse serves may be very far from those which it appears, at first sight, to represent.

—Chris Weedon, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory

There is a history of common stereotypes used in Zimbabwean discourse, which are, in complex ways, sometimes reinforced and sometimes subverted in Zimbabwean media. Viewers play an active role in selecting which stereotypes will and will not have power in their own identities. These discourses have tremendous power, so much so that the government transformed them into legislation, the 2001 Broadcasting Services Act.

The BBC’s recommendations that Zimbabwe privatize the ZBC went unheeded. For over thirty years, broadcasting in Zimbabwe has been organized as a state monopoly governed by the 1973 Broadcasting Act inherited from Rhodesia. A challenge to this monopoly came for the first time from private radio broadcasters in 2000, leading to the BSA. The act had two main goals: to restrict the possibility of real liberalization and to mandate local content. Unfortunately, the public conversations about the act among culture workers focused almost entirely on the latter. Their conversations revealed nuanced approaches to national culture and the concept of “the local,” but they ignored the immediate effects of the act for the state’s control of information. The state-owned media encouraged a focus on the local content component of the act in order to deflect attention from its restrictive effects, which were to distribute local propaganda and to limit foreign news, thereby restricting Zimbabwe’s public image to one produced by the state.

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Medium 9781864620009

Bartosch’s The Idea

Edited by Jayne Pilling John Libbey Publishing ePub


Berthold Bartosch deserves to be discussed among the important filmmakers – not just important animators – both for the intrinsic artistry of his 1932 film The Idea and for its seminal position as the first animation film created as an artwork with serious, even tragic, social and philosophical themes (as opposed to ‘documentary’, educational animations of McCay and the Fleischers or abstract animations of Ruttmann and Fischinger). That Bartosch does not always occupy a position of honour in film history stems partly from the fact that the 25-minute Idea has not always been easily available to viewers and partly because The Idea could be his only surviving film from a 45-year career that included some dozen film works.

(Still courtesy William Moritz)

Animator Berthold Bartosch working in his cramped attic studio

Born in 1893 in Bohemia, Bartosch studied art in Vienna and under the influence of his socialist professor Hanslik, began (during World War I) making animated educational films on such topics as communism, humanism and the socialist theories of the Czech patriot Thomas Masaryk. After the war, he moved to the Berlin branch of the leftist Institute for Cultural Research, where he continued his filmmaking – and met Lotte Reiniger. He began working for her on her silhouette animations, primarily animating backgrounds and special effects, such as ocean waves, snow storms, clouds and the moving starscapes behind Prince Ahmed’s flight on the magic horse in the feature-length animated film The Adventures of Prince Ahmed, which they shot between 1923 and 1926. In 1930 he married and moved with Maria to Paris, since the atmosphere in Germany was deteriorating for pacifists and socialists.

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Medium 9780253020659

6 Heading Home: Post-Mortem Road Narratives

Hakim Abderrezak Indiana University Press ePub

It is perhaps at the occasion of the death of the migrant that one can grasp his real place with regard to the migratory space that he took up more than a generation ago. Standing on his feet or lying in a coffin, he will return to his place of origin where something stronger than him snatched him one day.

—Yassin Chaïb, “Le Lieu d’enterrement comme repère migratoire”

Born, or arrived in France at a very young age, schooled and brought up in France, they will have to work there all their lives, and they will die in France (and maybe unlike their elders, they will have tombs in France; because the conditions and reasons of a post-mortem repatriation, which is almost the norm nowadays, will have ceased).

—Alain Gillette and Abdelmalek Sayad, L’Immigration algérienne en France

The choice of burial place for French citizens of North African ancestry is a pressing issue not only because death is inevitable, but more importantly because for Maghrebis and their children, burial cannot always follow rules of tradition, which are essentially practical. Indeed, it is customary to bury loved ones in local cemeteries. It is logical that one should want to keep close to home that which is close to heart. But this is not an inevitability for Maghrebis and Beurs. From the moment of their arrival in France and even more so when they realized France was to become their “home,” Maghrebis have had to ponder the question of what was to be the final “home” for them and their children. Available scholarship in the humanities, and in the realm of cultural studies in particular, has treated the notion of home, uprootedness, exile, and biculturalism. But the notion of final “home” has understandably not yet concerned scholars, for the generation of immigrants who arrived in France in the middle of the past century has just started to pass away en masse. Questions related to their burial have been tackled in various disciplines, such as sociology and (clinical) psychology, which deal with the practical and economic aspects of this phenomenon. One can only hope that the humanities will catch up soon. This will become more likely when a higher number of fictional accounts and biographies are produced, thus provoking humanistic studies. Indeed, as of today only a few of these have appeared. A dead individual cannot by definition write the account of his own passing away, just as with illiterature the experience of the death of the other is often told by external “witnesses,” humanists, writers, relatives, etc. But what the available literature and cinematography teaches us is that a reflection on the issue is taking place a priori. It is characterized by investigative journeys, the unknown, and rituals of initiation. According to writers and filmmakers, these narratives imposed themselves as an inevitable source of creative productions through personal confrontation with death. Put differently, these writers and filmmakers’ experiences of the death of a loved one have led them to ponder the sensitive subject. Consequently, retirement, death, and burial sites have taken center stage in their fictional works. This emergence in migrant literature and cinema often concerned with questions of identity in the here and now is a significant move that is bound to raise a few important questions for experts. This is no new matter for the North African community based in France; indeed, the epigraph from French journalist Gillette’s and Algerian sociologist Sayad’s L’Immigration algérienne en France dates back to 1976. It highlights the essential and continual concern: will Beurs be buried back home like their ancestors? The quote starts with the expression of an objective vision: French citizens of Maghrebi heritage will pass away in France. It includes a statement introduced by “maybe” and framed by parentheses. The embedded hypothesis indicates that one is to expect the ending of a trend, which consists of taking the corpse of a family member to Algeria to bury it there.1 Why do the authors assume that this practice is likely to come to a close?

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Medium 9780861967025

Early Cinema Today –

Edited by Martin Loiperdinger John Libbey Publishing ePub

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