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Medium 9780253010643

1 Race Matters: The Evolution of Race Filmmaking

Barbara Tepa Lupack Indiana University Press ePub

[Instead of] a lot of slapstick, chicken-eating, watermelon Negro pictures like they had been making, … we made something that had never been made before … We were pioneers …
—George Johnson

Early race filmmaking is unquestionably the story of pioneers—pioneers like William D. Foster, the “Dean of Negro Motion Pictures,” who foresaw a dynamic future for blacks in the film industry; Emmett J. Scott, a Tuskegee Institute official who struggled valiantly to produce a film in response to D. W. Griffith’s vitriolic The Birth of a Nation; Noble and George Johnson, brothers and co-founders of the distinguished Lincoln Motion Picture Company, who produced high-quality pictures that promoted the ideology of race uplift; Robert Levy, the white founder of Reol Productions and the sponsor of the prestigious Lafayette Players, from whom many race filmmakers drew their casts; and Oscar Micheaux, the first black film auteur and the most prolific race producer of his day.1

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Medium 9780253021359

Appendix A The Reemergence of Oscar Micheaux: A Timeline and Bibliographic Essay

Charles Musser Indiana University Press ePub


The current groundswell of interest in Oscar Micheaux began with the 1969 publication in Negro Digest of an article by Thomas Cripps that characterizes Micheaux as “by far the most famous, and best, of the black silent filmmakers.”1 Cripps’s early appreciative position regarding the value of Micheaux’s silent films was courageous, since it was diametrically opposed to a prevailing disdain for Micheaux expressed by a number of Cripps’s respected colleagues at Morgan State University.2

Micheaux’s first and third novels were reprinted;3 so was Peter Noble’s The Negro in Films, an obscure book on black cinema that was first published in 1948.4

The legend of Oscar Micheaux, which had persisted in parts of the black community since Micheaux’s time, began to emerge into wider streams of American culture in 1970. Between March 24 and May 14 of that year, the Jewish Museum in Manhattan screened a program of films by black producers, curated by black cinema activists Pearl Bowser, Charles Hobson, and others. This was repeated a few months later at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Penelope Gilliatt published, in The New Yorker, a two-column notice of the Jewish Museum’s press screening of Micheaux’s film God’s Step Children;5 and Thomas Cripps published a scholarly article that included discussion of Paul Robeson’s role in Micheaux’s film Body and Soul. Bowser’s film programs and her continuing activism also signify the presence of an unbroken current of interest in black-produced cinema in the African-American community, a current that began virtually with the advent of movies and erupted into history with the black response to the release of The Birth of a Nation in 1915.

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Medium 9780253356772

Appendix 5. Reclaiming Virginity

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

Unedited version of a story broadcast on Nkhani Zam’maboma on July 11, 2008. The transcription is a copy of the original sent to the MBC, and no attempt has been made to amend its spelling and grammar.

“Worship, the Woman is Polyandrous!”

A woman speaking at the First-Grade Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe demanded her husband to restore her virginity and cleanse her of AIDS if he wanted to leave her. But some tried to think critically and condemned the ex-wife describing her irresponsible.

Magistrate Kachama made the situation even worse when he said: “The woman is saying you are still her husband. And that if you want to leave her, you should restore her virginity and cleanse her of AIDS, which she claims, you infected her. What are you going to say?”

The husband did not waste time thinking about what he could do for the lady. He just hit the nail on its head saying: “I don’t want this woman. As for AIDS, I cannot be responsible because the woman married three times before me.”

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Medium 9781574411874

Isis in Nubia

Sterling Houston University of North Texas Press PDF

Isis in Nubia

a tale of ancient Africa

Isis in Nubia was first presented on May 26, 1994, at the Carver

Cultural Center, San Antonio, Texas, with the following cast:

Robert Aden

Malacandar, Wizard, Old Soldier

Gertrude E. Baker

Priestess, Ishtar, Nile Woman

Donald Bouldin

Priest, Hapsut, Young Soldier

Xavier Cerda

Young Soldier, Nubian Man

Kim Corbin

Nephthys, Nubian Girl

Kevin Evans

Praise Singer, Gilgamesh, Horus

T-Bow Gonzales


Mak Hall


Allana X. Schulman Weaver, Nile Woman

Cassandra Small


Michael Verdi


Kitty Williams

Priestess, Kali, Nile Woman

Directed by Sterling Houston

Production Design by Robert Rehm

Costume Design by Kim Corbin

Lighting Design by Max Parilla and Steve Bailey



God of Night, Revenge and Darkness, brother of Osiris


God of the Dead, Fertility and Rebirth


Goddess of Morning, Harvest, wife of Osiris


Warrior God, son of Osiris and Isis


Sister of Isis and Osiris and wife of Seth


Son of Nephthys


Queen of Syria

MALACANDER King of Syria


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Medium 9780861966967

Chapter 1 Archaeologies of Interactivity: Early Cinema, Narrative and Spectatorship

Kreimeier, Klaus John Libbey Publishing ePub

It is difficult not to discuss contemporary cinema in terms of its multiple – and for some, mortal – crises: loss of indexicality, due to the transition from photographic to digitally generated images; death of the auteur cinema, even in Europe, as a creative force, overtaken once more by Hollywood’s Bat-, Spider- and Iron-Men, with their sequels and prequels; decline of the cinema as an art-form, its medium-specificity diluted by the hybridisation of a film’s textual autonomy in the DVD bonus package; appropriation of the cinema’s history and cannibalisation of its cultural memory through television and the internet serving up teasers, trailers and other pre-cooked forms of compilation and compression. Finally, some of the most persistent anxieties arising from these crises of cinema centre on spectatorship and narrative, figured as a loss of attention and the decay of storytelling. Filmmaking, according to this argument, is threatened by the impatient, hyperactive spectator, and trapped by the contradiction between ‘game logic’ and ‘narrative logic’.

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Medium 9780253016454

5 Total African Theatre: Language, Reflexivity, and Ambiguity in The Witch of Mopti

Jesse Weaver Shipley Indiana University Press ePub

What would have happened if the King had not drunk from the Well of Madness?

In the struggle for Mopti . . . Who was the winner . . . and who the loser?

Storyteller in Mohammed Ben Abdallah’s Witch of Mopti

MOHAMMED BEN ABDALLAHS play The Witch of Mopti tells the story of a young king of the city of Mopti, who marries a poor fisherman’s daughter and rebuffs his aunt, a powerful witch, who wants him to marry her daughter. The king and the witch battle for control of Mopti in both spiritual and material realms. When the king employs powerful sorcerers from across Africa to defend himself, the witch “makes a pact with the devil,” casting a spell on the city’s well water to drive anyone who drinks from it insane. Everyone goes crazy except the king, who has not drunk from the well. His mad people see their leader’s apparently strange behavior and determine that he must be insane. In the play’s climax, the king faces a moral dilemma that pits his beliefs against his people’s needs. The conflict over sovereignty between the king and the witch is interspersed with music, dance, and storytellers’ reflections on the conventions of staged theatre. The play is framed by humorous banter between two storytellers who move among the time-place of characters, actors, and audiences.

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Medium 9780253358530

4. Calvino and the Amazons: Reading the (Post)Modern Text

Teresa de Lauretis Indiana University Press ePub


Federico V., who lived in a city in Northern Italy, was in love with Cinzia U., a resident of Rome.

Thus begins the story of the traveler in “L’avventura di un viaggiatore,” a short story included in the 1958 volume of Calvino’s Racconti and later reprinted in a separate collection bearing the title Gli amori difficili (Difficult Loves).1 This opening is also, of course, the beginning of a story—in the current sense of love affair, erotic adventure, or sentimental relationship. The intimate connection of narrative with love, articulated in the necessary link of distance and desire throughout Calvino’s fiction, is here inscribed in a late-romantic thematic of travel as quest without attainment. When that connection is remade in If on a winter’s night a traveler, a novel that obstreperously proclaims its participation in the postmodern aesthetics of simulation, textual spectacle, masquerade, and self-reflexive excess, the result is again a love story.2 But that love, unlike the earlier ones, is all too easy.

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Medium 9780253008343

1 Family Secrets: The 400 Blows (1959), The Woman Next Door (1981)

Fox, Alistair ePub

TRUFFAUTS FILMS ARE PARTICULARLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO PSYCHO-analytical interpretation. It would be a mistake to view this as merely accidental. Emanating from the unconscious experience of the filmmaker, they manifest, as naturally as a patient on an analyst’s couch, the grand Freudian scenarios – in particular, the fundamental Oedipal one.

One can compare this scenario to a play in three acts. The first begins with the birth of the infant who enjoys, for a certain length of time, a state of symbiotic fusion with the mother. During this stage, if it is experienced harmoniously, all of the child’s desires are gratified. For the infant, who as yet has no awareness of having a separate identity, the mother represents the only reality and meets all of his or her needs. The second act marks the intervention of the father into this Eden-like tableau, and the child’s movement out of a dyadic relationship into a triadic one. By demanding a separation of mother and child, the father imposes a limitation on the desires of the latter. At this stage, the infant displays feelings of hostility and jealousy toward the father and feelings of love for the mother, who has now assumed an autonomous reality. If they were to be pushed to the limit, the logic of these drives would require, as in the myth, that the child kill his father and marry his mother. The resolution of the Oedipus complex occurs in the third act, when the child, acknowledging the law of the father, identifies himself with it and thus becomes integrated into the world of culture that regulates social behavior. Renouncing the possibility of a limitless desire, he accepts that words replace things – the learning of language – and that woman replaces the mother – the institution of marriage, which sanctions the integration of desire within the law. The fundamental role that this scenario plays in shaping personality, together with the dynamic of desire, constitutes a psychic reality that is never brought to a definitive conclusion.

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Medium 9780861967094

Health Entrepreneurs: American Screen Practices in the 1910s

Ludwig VoglBienek John Libbey Publishing ePub

Advertisement for Excelsior Slide Company, Moving Picture World 12, no. 5 (6 May 1912): 442.

“Pure milk, pure water, sanitary sewerage, and good food are better than moonlit nooks, golf links, tango teas, or boardwalks”.1
Dr Charles Bolduan

Public health discourses in relation to cinema are particularly rewarding to study during the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, especially as it played out in major American cities. In the variegated metropolitan civic fabric, cinema became a tool for health instruction as an intertwined aspect of Americanisation and civic learning. Moving pictures were used for raising awareness about the link between sanitary and civic conduct in efforts to reshape behaviour. Cultural integration, Americanisation, and body politics at large were thus correlated with images of citizens keeping their bodies clean and healthy. These didactic initiatives during the first decades of the 20th century brought together a cross-section of civic movements and organisations in lieu of government leadership at the federal as well as municipal level.

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Medium 9780253352521

11 Storytelling, Commemoration, and Identity

Ray Cashman Indiana University Press ePub

Whether told at wakes, at ceilis, or in other contexts, local character anecdotes are narrative orderings of past events. Given that a primary performance context for telling local character anecdotes is occasioned by death, the memorial impulse of the wake begs stories that remember the dead, conjuring them back to life. At the nighttime communal debriefing of the ceili, daily confrontations with massive socioeconomic change spark conversation, and local character anecdotes provide both welcome distraction from and serious contemplation of the present through contrast with the remembered past. Local character anecdotes told in Aghyaran, then, join in a much larger project of commemoration, and a consideration of commemoration offers us a final perspective on what is at stake in telling anecdotes.

From annual Orange parades and urban gable end murals to the relatively recent explosion of local historical societies, commemoration is a shared drive of thousands of people across Northern Ireland. Whether they be marching in a parade or telling anecdotes at wakes and ceilis, acts of commemoration are often precisely where the community of the network and the community of the social imaginary come into dialogue, gesturing toward identity (Noyes 1995:471). In the same way that we considered the place and function of anecdotes within the broader generic system of Aghyaran oral traditions, we should consider the place and function of anecdotes within the broader range of Aghyaran commemorative practices.

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Medium 9780253011046

7 Challenging the Voice of God in World War II–Era Soviet Documentaries

Lilya Kaganovsky Indiana University Press ePub

Jeremy Hicks

IN 1943, A DOCUMENTARY of the battle of Moscow (Razgrom nemetskikh voisk pod Moskvoi) titled Moscow Strikes Back won the Soviet Union its first Oscar. This version of the film had discarded the original voice-over and added a new one, written by Albert Maltz and read by Edward G. Robinson. This was not an unusual practice, and it has been repeated many times since. Both during and since the war itself, Soviet World War II black-and-white newsreel images have been recycled to illustrate this or that television documentary about the conflict, stripped of the verbal context provided by the voice-over commentary that first accompanied them in the original films. In removing what are assumed to be pompous voice-of-God commentaries encumbered by encomiums to Stalin and the party, historical filmmakers imply that a new voice-over will provide more informative verbal interpretations than the original, with less distortion and to greater effect.

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Medium 9780861967025

The Best Years of Film History:

Loiperdinger, Martin John Libbey Publishing ePub


for Chiara Caranti

In the summer of 2003 the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato presented a series of five programmes of films from 1903, curated and introduced by Tom Gunning. I do not know how this came about. The section was called, in English, The First Great Year of Cinema: 1903 and, in Italian, Cento anni fa: I film del 1903.

My involvement dates from April 2004, when the director of the Cineteca di Bologna, standing beside me, was wondering to himself whether the Hundred Years Ago series should continue and, if so, who might curate it that year – and muttering that it was, in any case, now too late as the festival starts at the end of June. I muttered back to him that I could do it – a remark which has afforded me the happiest seven years of my career.1

It is mostly thanks to the films. The body of work produced from 1904 to 1910 is the most interesting in the whole of cinema history, for it was then, as it would never be again, that a whole host of aesthetic and narrative possibilities of the medium were explored and tested. It is also the least known and most undervalued work. Moreover, films of this period have to be properly programmed, for screenings to be a success. All this makes the curator’s job both challenging and rewarding. We are talking about films or fragments with running times of between one minute and fifteen (except for the exceptions, of course). Choosing between hundreds of short films, grouping the chosen titles into programmes and putting them into an effective running order, with films being dropped or exchanged the whole time, is a job which can be done well or badly. It is as important to the way the films are received as the staging of a play is to its success. I aim, via my programming, to make the selected films accessible and to provide a context for them by the way they are combined, so that each film’s special qualities are shown to their best advantage and each film’s position in the programme fulfils a dramatic function. A badly-constructed programme reduces or destroys the audience’s ability to see, think and feel. But we have arrived far too quickly at these reflections on programming principles. So let us return to these rarely-seen films of before 1910.

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Medium 9780861966592

Chapter II The Cartoon Before Tex

Place-Verghnes, Floriane John Libbey Publishing ePub

Even though the art of animation is often associated with innovation, it has to be said that it finds its roots as early as 1645, when Athanasius Kircher (1601–1690) invented his Magical Lantern (the method of which he described at length in a book entitled Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae). It consisted of a

mere box in which a mirror and a source of light had been placed ... The light rays – reflected by the mirror – would come out of the box through a small slit, and go through a pane of glass on which an image had been stuck. The image was then screened on a white wall through a magnifying lens.15

Etienne Gaspard Robert – working under the pseudonym Robertson – used the same device almost 150 years later, when he gave a fright to the whole of Paris by screening the heroes of the Revolution in his Fantasmagorie show (1794).

This ancestor of the animated movies was therefore to be one of the longer lasting ones, since what other creators did afterwards was only to improve the original method by implementing it with two major principles of animation: the persistence of vision and the need for gaps between images.

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Medium 9780253008343

Conclusion: The Art of the Secret

Fox, Alistair ePub

TEN MINUS FOUR = A HEXAGON. AS I HAVE SAID, THIS FORMULA can serve as a paradigm for understanding Truffaut’s narrative procedure. Instead of explicit and abstract information, we find an indirect response formulated in a metaphoric, figurative language. Puzzling at first sight, it can be exposed through an imaginative and ingenious analysis. It requires the interlocutor to engage in mental gymnastics that disobey conventional channels of communication. I will now study the details of these gymnastics because they produce the emotion and constitute the foundation of the psychic well-being that is procured by fiction.

We know that at the very first screening of moving images, organized by the Lumière brothers, the audience, seeing a train arrive at a station, was seized with panic. This was emotion in its raw state. Silent cinema played on this extraordinary power of the image and harnessed it in order to create very refined forms of expression. Fifty years later, emotion had become dulled. “The golden age is behind us,” said Truffaut in 1982 to journalists from Cahiers du cinéma, adding: “. . . in the work of directors who began making films in the silent era, there is an authoritative aspect that subsequently has been irremediably lost.”1 What he envied in these pioneers was their direct impact on the imagination of the spectator. Being the inventors of cinematic language, they were able to adopt “the most radical solution,”2 when faced with a problem, without fearing that they would appear naive. With them, the effect of surprise was assured from the outset. Truffaut knew that he no longer enjoyed the same privilege. The guilty party responsible for this was “French quality” cinema, with its commonplaces and clichés, as he observed in his first critical article published in March 1953, titled “Les Extrêmes me touchent”: “Twenty years of contrived grand subjects, twenty years of Adorable Creatures, Return to Life, Don Camillo, and others like Moment of Truth have created a blasé audience whose sensibility and judgment have been alienated by the ugly and contemptible “fear of being duped” that Radiguet had already denounced.”3 In the post-classical era, in order to achieve the same effect as the great filmmakers of the past, it was necessary to use a new type of coding to give the film power over the imagination. In an age of wariness, Truffaut put in place a narrative system that was meant to elude the perceptual predispositions of the spectator. It depends upon the principle of “clandestine persuasion.” Instead of the direct style of early cinema, he used an indirect style, as in “the raw and the cooked.”4

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Medium 9780253013873

12 Zombie Arts and Letters

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Then the idea hit him. Moses ran into his apartment and removed a leaf from the Book Isis had given him. He returned to the balcony where below the crowds had taken trees and were now using them to pound on the Palace gate. Moses uttered The Work aloud. 1st there was silence. Then the people turned toward the Nile and they saw a huge mushroom cloud arise.

A few minutes later, screaming of the most terrible kind came from that direction. The crowd dispersed, trampling 1 another as they rushed for the shelter of their homes. This was a turning point in the Book’s history.

Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo

Genre fiction is project-based art. Whether cowboy Western or inter-galactic sci-fi, genre writing entails a double inventiveness according to the set of directives imposed upon each story in advance. On the one hand, by definition such writing exercises a creative function following explicit conditions of constraint, whether formal, aesthetic, historical, moral, or economic. From the pulps to the remainder bin, genre fiction necessarily knows its limits; this is part of its “project.” On the other hand, it also recognizes and formalizes these limits as constraints in the first place, a gesture as constitutive of a genre’s artistic project as any subsequent improvisation or “genre bending” that arises in tension with these constraints. “Write a detective novel,” someone might say, and we already know what this means. It’s no different with zombie stories. The zombie genre, which began to take shape in the 1930s, reaching a kind of market saturation during the past decade, resembles virtually all other popular modes of genre fiction in the necessary restriction of its imaginative conditions. Every genre story, after all, must at once name and confront the exhaustion—or at least the exhausting familiarity—of its conventions. And keep on pursuing the project.

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