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Medium 9780253002952

9 Roland Barthes, Mojado, in Brownface: Chisme-laced Snapshots Documenting the Preposterous and Factlaced Claim That the Postmodern Was Born along the Borders of the Río Grande River William Anthony Nericcio

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub


The editors have asked that I add a prolegomena to the forehead or face of this essay, and I am happy to do so. Way back in the day (old skool grad school days, when this son of la frontera was kidnapped by the Ivy League and whisked away to freeze his nalgas off in Ithaca, New York), I was a big fan of Roland Barthes—I thrilled to the jouissance of the pleasures of the text, read and reread the dispatches in Mythologies, etc. etc. Long story short, I escaped the wicked pirates of Cornell, got a job at the University of Connecticut, jumped ship to Califas and SDSU and, my first year there (1991, shh shh!) I wrote an in-house grant proposal and was awarded five hundred smackeroos to purchase my first 35 mm camera. The rest, as they say, is history. What follows are the theorylaced meditations of a Chicano on crack Kodak, a Mexicameran-American (that’s me in the center there to the right of Edward James Olmos; Barthes’s there to the right of me, or at least his photoshopped ghost is); I am utterly responsible for the contents of this rasquache semiotic whatsit and beg you reward the editors of this collection for allowing it to appear in these pages.

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Medium 9780253009234

12. Nigerian Videos and their Imagined Western Audiences: The Limits of Nollywood's Transnationality

Edited by Matthias Krings and Onookome O Indiana University Press ePub


THE POPULARITY OF NOLLYWOOD VIDEO IS NOT NEW. ONE reason for this is that it is able to read into the souls of its audience. This popularity is also partly based on the narratives, which are easily recognized and held dear by ordinary Nigerians. It is popularity that has sustained the industry thus far. What started out as a national visual practice more than two decades ago has gained a transnational coloration brought on by an expanding diasporic spectatorship. In terms of circulation, the video film does not just move from one African migrant to another: video stores in Western cities and many Internet sites sell them in virtual marketplaces. However, with the circulation of the Nollywood videos in global spaces, producers are beginning to rethink their transnational audiences as part of the narrative and production equation. They are keenly contemplating the idea of generating a Western audience for the video film. In my interviews and discussions with the video filmmakers, they expressed hope that a Western audience would yield more profits. However, given the divergence between the Western motion picture regime and Nollywood's video practice, this chapter queries how a truly Western audience might be gained for the video film. Using the experiment undertaken at Schlachthaus Theater in Bern, Switzerland, in 2005, in which I recut Nigerian videos for a Western audience, the chapter explores one means by which Nollywood could address non-African audiences.1 While my recut made Nollywood video accessible to Western audiences, this is ambivalent because mainstreaming Nollywood videos into a Western frame might prove futile. This process is risky, as it could also disenfranchise African audiences without generating the imagined Western patronage. By recutting Nollywood to suit the West, what remains of Nollywood, and can the resultant film still be called Nollywood?

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Medium 9781864620542

The Interactive Filmmaker’s Challenge

John Libbey Publishing ePub

The earliest cinema of Méliès and Lumière has more than once been likened to the current state-of-the-art interactive ‘new media’, and more specifically to non-linear interactive movies. Implicit in this observation is the fact that the sophistication of interactive movie language is awaiting the passage of time and the development of technology before it matures. It has been frequently noted that computers are still waiting for the first great visionary genius to take us into a new dimension.

This essay demonstrates how computer technologies can now offer completely new interactive movie paradigms and structures; that the expectations of the audience need redefining, and that to develop these works we can inherit from the 100-year history of cinematic images. A range of the author’s (and other) experimental works will be discussed to demonstrate how the interactive filmmaker’s challenge is not to wait for technological change or advance, but to discover specific non-linear models and subjects that make sense for the viewer, and support their fundamental leap of faith from observer to participant. Only in this way is it possible to make movies do things they haven’t done before.

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Medium 9780861967155

Chapter 12 Woman as Ethnographic Filmmaker

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

Chick Strand*

I have never really thought of myself as a “woman in film” . . . as opposite from “men in film” . . . I am a filmmaker (although there certainly seem to be many more men in film than women). I am not so stupid as not to see that there are differences in approach, perceptions, values, motivations, and that these differences stem from the way our culture defines men and women and from the way that we are taught to see ourselves and as men see us. The questions and ways to find answers as to what is womanness underneath all of the cultural definitions are far too complicated and interrelated to have any overt meaning during the act of creativity (at least for me). I do it . . . I make the film . . . and of course, all the things involved in our concepts of woman and reactions to being a woman come into play in what I do, but I don’t stop to analyze my motivations. Neither am I careful to present my films or the women in them in any special light, or with any social significance or in any special manner . . . except that it’s all special in that it comes from me, a woman. I do it as I feel it. I am well aware that my own perceptions and the presentations of them contain many ambiguities which coincide with the difficulties of understanding what has gone on and is going on between men and women (I am talking about the new awareness) in our society. I am simply not an analytical person and have no real interest in sorting things out for the world at large through my films. But there are women who are good at it and should make coherent statements, define the general problems and suggest solutions through their work.

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Medium 9780253017451

Part 1: The Restoration of the Maciste Series

Jacqueline Reich Indiana University Press ePub

Cabiria was an enormous success, and it is clear that the character most beloved by the audience was Maciste, due to the particular characteristics that the author imbued in him, for the special dramatic situations in which the author placed him, and also for Pagano’s effective performance.

In order to exploit that success Itala Film decided to produce a series of action films called “Maciste,” in which it developed the daring and humorous adventures of the good-hearted strongman with solid muscles and valiant heart – either as policeman, athlete, alpine soldier, or other personifications – who represented, in the most varied times and places, the same, typical figure of the super-strongman in service to just and generous causes.1

The history of cinema is also and especially the history of films. It is a story made from stories, since films themselves are not abstract ideas but material works from a tangible, variable, reproducible base, which are born, altered, and nonetheless eventually destined to disappear. Briefly, the history of cinema is also the material history of the actual print (in film for the first one hundred years of production, but also in video and digital formats today). Often it is the responsibility of the restorers and archivists, who work in the shadows, so to speak, to create the necessary conditions so that scholars and film lovers alike can see the films that make up the history of the so-called seventh art.

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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 9780253356772

7 Cries and Whispers

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

When I discussed Nkhani Zam’maboma with people I had known for over a decade in Dedza District, many would add to their reflections a sober comment on the area’s invisibility in the program.1 The villages in their chiefdom did not seem to feature in the stories broadcast on Nkhani Zam’maboma, an observation corroborated by the absence of incidents in this area from my sample of stories. No one who made such a comment thought it warranted complacency. Rather than indicating the area’s exceptional record in avoiding scandals, the lack of its stories on the radio, I was told, arose from villagers’ problematic tendency to “keep secrets” (kusunga zinsinsi). Stories about misconduct and abuse did circulate locally, but their failure to reach the national radio bespoke a widely shared fear (mantha) of publicizing unsavory incidents. I heard stories and witnessed events that could have provided material for Nkhani Zam’maboma, and villagers were able to give further examples of similarities between their experiences and those reported on the program. Not only were witches’ aircraft seen to crash-land here as elsewhere, many less spectacular incidents could also have appeared on Nkhani Zam’maboma. For instance, some villagers told me, in hushed voices, about the widespread sexual abuse of female children, often by their own kinsmen.

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Medium 9780861966899

Chapter 17 John Welle, The cinema arrives in Italy: city, region and nation in early film discourse

Richard Abel John Libbey Publishing ePub

In Early Cinema in Russia and Its Cultural Reception, Yuri Tsivian reconstructs the response to early cinema of an educated Russian public. In describing the methodology he adopts for analysing written traces of early cinema, he writes:

At the input we have a simple moving image, at the output we get a “reception text”... The task of those who take up the study of cultural reception is quite similar to that of the Rorschach psychologist: to summarize and interpret the recurrent associations and fixed ideas that each culture reads into the “moving smudges” of early cinema.1

Tom Gunning describes cultural reception in these terms:

“The writer on films filters his or her perception of the films through more than a subjective grid. As they participate in the passions and tacit assumptions of their age and nation (not to mention class and gender) they stain the image they present of the film with them.”2

As these scholars indicate, cultural reception entails tracing the recurring patterns, dominant motifs, and familiar metaphors contained in each culture’s written accounts of early cinema.

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Medium 9780253329059

Twelve “Eighty-Six the Mother” Murder, Matricide, and Good Mothers

Elizabeth Bell Indiana University Press ePub

Lynda Haas

It is hard to speak precisely about mothering. Overwhelmed with greeting card sentiment, we have no realistic language in which to capture the ordinary/extraordinary pleasures and pains of maternal work. (Ruddick 1989, 29)

Phone conversations at my house are frequently the most trying moments of the day; regardless of what my children are involved in before I pick up the receiver, all three decide they need my immediate, undivided attention the moment I begin to talk. People without children, I’m sure, find the constant interference—“just a minute, no—no chocolate milk right now”—frustrating. I must admit, I too am usually frustrated; but, I have learned that motherhood means

being constantly interruptible, responsive, responsible. Children need one now. . . . The very fact that these are real needs, that one feels them as one’s own (love, not duty); that there is no one else responsible for these needs, gives them primacy. (Olsen 1978, 18–19)

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Medium 9780861967155

Chapter 28 Alternative Projections Screenings Series

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

Adam Hyman

From the start, the screening series for Alternative Projections was the anchor of the whole project. Pacific Standard Time was geared towards exhibitions, and the Filmforum exhibition was this series, with the research, papers, and oral histories all supporting the films and providing a resource for critics, scholars, and filmmakers to learn more about the films. In our original proposal, we estimated that we would present sixteen different programs. We ended up presenting twenty-eight different shows, including one marathon, and even had two additional programs curated that we couldn’t fit in the calendar! In sum, artists made a large number of interesting films in Los Angeles from 1945 to 1980, far more than are widely-known.

We committed ourselves to focusing on short films, including only two works that might be defined as features, Stanton Kaye’s Georg and Chick Strand’s Soft Fiction, due to the importance of each. We also decided not to have any single-filmmaker screenings, instead emphasizing themes, approaches, or groups. Our choice and Alternative Projections’s strong archival component allowed us to go deeper within the period we were covering, 1945–1980, than did Filmforum’s earlier series, Scratching the Belly of the Beast (1994). We rediscovered and presented a great many films that hadn’t been seen in decades, often located by personal relationships or by the discovery of old program notes that made us curious. It took many hours of viewing by Mark Toscano, our guest curators, and myself of the films we located or knew in order to devise these programs, and to define some contexts that we felt would enrich their viewing. As you can see, we included some films in more than one screening to demonstrate how all these films could be approached in multiple ways. Full notes for the series, including individual film descriptions, can be found at http://www.alternativeprojections.com/screening-series/, and an ever-growing filmography of works made in LA is at http://alternativeprojections.com/data/films.php.

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Medium 9780253012265


Jennifer M Bean Indiana University Press ePub

Anupama Kapse

THE YEAR WAS 1897, the film was Edison’s The Kiss, but the city was Osaka and the audience Japanese. Japanese policemen attempted to forestall its screening, deeming it to be impertinent, but a quick-witted benshi assured them that a kiss was like a handshake in America, rather appropriate for the new technology of motion pictures. Mark B. Sandberg and Priya Jaikumar have shown us how cinema played fast and loose with place and location in “Picturing Space”; in this section we turn to some curiously impertinent appropriations of cinema’s textual meanings, genres, and stars. Aaron Gerow’s account of the initial response to The Kiss (1896) shows not only how a change in exhibition venue could stand intended meaning on its head, but also how quickly the spoken word could strike out at early impressions of a “dumb” (the pun is intended) medium imported from the United States. Invoking an originary moment other than that of the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at a Station (1896), Gerow redirects us to a scenario where cinema’s first audiences responded to it with another kind of horror, marked not by fear and excitement but disdain and suspicion.1

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Medium 9780253016447

9. Merzak Allouache: (Self-)Censorship, Social Critique, and the Limits of Political Engagement in Contemporary Algerian Cinema (Algeria)

Edited by Josef Gugler Indiana University Press ePub

Will Higbee

I am from a generation that grew up in the years that followed the war of liberation. Like many others, I was patient and idealistic. I attached great hope to the country’s independence, tomorrow looked promising, the nation was being rebuilt. Today, we need to reconsider everything, tear it all down, and rebuild from scratch.

—Merzak Allouache in Khatibi, 2011

In a career of almost forty years, comprising fourteen feature films as well as numerous TV films and documentaries, Merzak Allouache has confirmed his reputation as one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed directors in the history of Algerian cinema. From his award-winning directorial debut Omar Gatlato, one of the key works of Algerian and indeed Arab cinema of the 1970s, to The Rooftops, a film that combines narratives from five different neighborhoods in Algiers as a means of exploring class and religious divides in Algeria, Allouache has repeatedly demonstrated, both on and off-screen, his commitment to engaging with the realities and crises facing Algerian society since decolonization, and, above all, the struggles facing Algerian youth. The director has, moreover, achieved this prominent position among contemporary Algerian filmmakers despite spending almost as much time working in France as he has in Algeria over the past three decades. Such conditions of exile or temporary displacement are not unusual for postcolonial Arab directors, a point acknowledged by Tunisian director and critic Férid Boughedir when writing about the significant contribution of exilic and diasporic filmmakers to New Arab cinema of the 1970s and 1980s (Boughedir 1987, 10). For his part, Allouache defines himself not as an émigré director but as a cinéaste de passage: a filmmaker whose movement between France and Algeria is dictated by the political, artistic, and economic conditions associated with each new project. The director’s key distinction between émigré filmmaker and cinéaste de passage underlines the complex position occupied not just by Allouache but by many filmmakers of the North African diaspora(s) living and working in France: maintaining a presence that is simultaneously between and within the film cultures and industries of France and the Maghreb (Higbee 2007, 62).

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Medium 9780253016294

2. Lance Spearman: The African James Bond

Matthias Krings Indiana University Press ePub

LANCE SPEARMAN, AKA The Spear, is a nattily dressed detective whose trademark is a fashionable straw hat, bow tie, and goatee. He likes cigars and scotch on the rocks, and is fond of beautiful women. From 1968 to about 1972, the crime-fighting adventures of “Africa’s top crime buster,” who had “a charming way with the girls” and “a deadly way with thugs,” appeared weekly in African Film, a photo-novel magazine published by South African Drum Publications. Through the publisher’s subsidiaries in Nairobi and Lagos, African Film had an almost Pan-African circulation, at least in Anglophone Africa, and was widely read in countries as diverse as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

By taking a closer look at African Film, this chapter draws attention to the photo novel, a genre and medium of African popular culture which, despite its wide historical circulation and immense popularity, tends to be largely overlooked in current discussions about African visual media. Although the African photo novel is still in circulation in various forms and countries, I am especially interested in its heyday, which was the late 1960s to the early 1970s. I suggest that at a time when African filmmaking was still a rather new and highly expensive venture, the photo novel—a kind of cinematic comic book—served as a surrogate for film. Probably no single title makes this argument more plausible than African Film magazine.

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Medium 9780253006486

2 Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: The Academic Case against Euro Horror Cinema

Ian Olney Indiana University Press ePub


To begin, I argue that Euro horror’s liminal presence in Film Studies is partly due to the fact that when making decisions about which movies to analyze, scholars continue – consciously or not – to rely upon traditional aesthetic criteria. Although ideological rather than aesthetic issues have been the primary focus of film theory and criticism since the 1970s, the old notion that a film must possess some kind of “artistic value” to be worthy of study has endured. The persistence of this notion has stalled the scholarly exploration of some forms of popular cinema despite the powerful influence of Cultural Studies in academia. In particular, as Paul Watson contends, it has led to a pervasive (if largely unspoken and perhaps unrecognized) bias against the exploitation film, that “blatantly commercial product, sold on the basis of its apparent revelatory qualities, and designed to ensure maximum possible return from the minimum investment and resources” (76):

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Medium 9781864620009

Resistance and subversion in animated films of the Nazi era

Edited by Jayne Pilling John Libbey Publishing ePub


The average person today might not know much about German film during the Nazi era and even animation scholars might not know what German animation existed between 1933 and 1945. Such a gap in cinema studies reflects a larger problem present in the United States’ perception of this crucial period. Forty years after the World War II, many Americans still naively accept simplistic stereotypes of the Nazis such as the demonic fiend whose appetite for sadistic cruelty is matched only by his ravenous, perverse sexual appetite (who inhabits such dramatic works as Visconti’s The Damned, and is the bumbling fool, somehow quaintly charming, popularised by such comedies as Hogan’s Heroes). A similar simplistic notion of the era itself – i.e. everything from 1933 to 1945 was Nazi, everything before or after wasn’t – clouds and weakens our perception of one of the most tragic and dangerous episodes in human history. Distancing the Nazis by making them into the stereotypes of demons and fools means we can comfortably say that ‘they weren’t like us’, and by containing them so solidly in a particular time slot, we can assure ourselves that ‘such horror can’t happen here and now’. Yet, the complex truth about the Nazi era is considerably more menacing.

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