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1. Nabil Maleh: Syria’s Leopard (Syria)

Edited by Josef Gugler Indiana University Press ePub

Christa Salamandra

The anti-regime uprising that began in Syria in 2011 lends a particular poignancy and urgency to a discussion of filmmaker Nabil Maleh’s life and work. The eminent director epitomizes the figure of the artist-activist, the socially committed and politically engaged cultural producer. Over decades of production and across genres, his work has challenged artistic, cultural, and political regimes. Maleh often cites a defining moment of childhood resistance: the seven-year-old Nabil confronted a soldier who tried to keep him off a public park swing so that military officers’ children could have free rein. In return for his defiance, the boy received a slap which, as Maleh puts it, echoed throughout his life.1

Aesthetics and ethics merged early in the director’s life. Born in 1936, the son of a high ranking army physician, and eldest of four siblings in an elite Damascene family, Maleh credits his mother for shaping his artistic and political sensibilities. Samiha al-Ghazi, an educated woman from a family of high-ranking nationalist activists and politicians, encouraged her son’s creative pursuits from an early age and instilled an enduring resistance to authority. At nine Maleh attended his first political protest, for the Palestinian cause; at fourteen he had a poem about Vietnam published in a Beirut newspaper. Soon afterward he became a political cartoonist and columnist for the Syrian daily Alif Baa, writing of the 1950s tumult: multiple coups d’état in Syria, the Suez Canal Crisis, and the Baghdad Pact. Upon completing secondary school Maleh worked as a substitute teacher in Syria’s rural northeast, experiencing firsthand “a world of barefoot children, unjust labor, and the wasted future of generations.”

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Medium 9780253008343

2 Deceptions: Shoot the Piano Player (1960), The Soft Skin (1964)

Gillain, Anne Indiana University Press ePub

AN ARTIST, AN UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS PROFESSIONAL MAN, TWO men who are uncomfortable with who they are; a meeting with a new woman, the hope of renewal . . . and, at the end of each story, two gunshots that echo one another. With Shoot the Piano Player and The Soft Skin, separated by only three years, the filmmaker anatomizes both the faking of success and the faking of a couple’s relationship. There is little doubt that autobiography played a role in the genesis of these two works. Each of them was made in the wake of moments of exhilaration that Truffaut, by his own admission, found hard to bear: “I have experienced periods of emptiness and sadness more often after successes than failures: I had violent bouts of depression after The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim, for example.”1 Shoot the Piano Player and The Soft Skin are the works that followed, respectively, each of those two films. More specifically, what Truffaut was analyzing through their twin protagonists was the loneliness of men who live a hidden life, closed in upon themselves, and whose deeply concealed self only reveals itself through the interior monologues of Charlie Kohler or the secret activity of Pierre Lachenay: stolen glances, furtive telephone calls, secret rendezvous. The former lives in silence, the latter lives a lie. The first looks for places to hide; the second prepares himself for flight in advance. The dissociation between appearance and reality, both as it pertains to the individual and to the environment, superficial and deep, is conveyed in the case of Shoot the Piano Player through narrative fragmentation, and in the case of The Soft Skin through visual fragmentation. Both the atomization of the story and that of the images reflect, in this instance, the splitting up of the self, experienced as internal self-mockery or externalized drama, by masculine heroes who are unable to bear their need and desire for women.

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Medium 9780253021342

5. In the House of Stories: Village Aspirations and Heritage Tourism

David Afriyie Donkor Indiana University Press ePub

THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES the intersection between Anansesεm performance and heritage tourism in neoliberal Ghana. As mentioned before, the 1990s saw a rise in popular trepidation about the Ghanaian government’s divestiture of state-owned enterprises and its courtship of foreign direct investment. Public concerns about external influences in the government and fears of foreign profiteering detracted from the political legitimacy of J. J. Rawlings’s administration. In order to undermine and confuse this opposition, the neoliberal regime sought to co-opt the stylistic rhetoric of pan-African cultural revival, which previously had been a feature of the anti-colonial movement. One aspect of this strategy of cultural legitimation was that the Rawlings regime began to strongly promote international black heritage tourism in Ghana, thereby making foreign involvement in the country appear less offensive. The regime proposed (in partnership with foreign investors) that the development of the country’s tourism industry, including the associated hotels, resorts, transportation, and infrastructure projects, could be tied to courting African diaspora tourists who would return to Ghana to experience “traditional” sites and cultural events.

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Medium 9780861967223

Chapter 7 Beyond cinema, beyond the NZFA

Emma Jean Kelly John Libbey Publishing ePub

The previous chapter examined Dennis’ narratives of his life, while this chapter takes the threads of Dennis’ experience and knowledge of social injustice and relates these to the presentation of archival materials which he undertook. It will demonstrate how Dennis’ practice was a creative endeavour and a collaborative venture which sought, through remembering rather than forgetting the colonial history of NZ and the South Pacific, to trouble the contemporary moment. Stephen Turner’s analysis of settler culture and its effects is employed to consider Dennis’ practice.140 In addition Homi Bhaba’s concept of hybridity is investigated in relation to one of Dennis’ final soundscape works, Ocean of Time (2000).

As we have seen, Dennis had worked with Māori and helped develop a “kaupapa” for the Archive which incorporated Māori values into its framework. He explained in a lecture and a subsequently published paper that his aim was “uncovering and releasing the images” from the Archive to find ways in which Pākehā and Māori could work together (Dennis, 1990). This could be interpreted as an attempt towards “kaupapa Māori”, an indigenous centered perspective and practice which engaged face-to-face with Māori in order to enable the descendants of taonga to respond to them (McCarthy, 2011; Tapsell, 2006; Te Awekotuku, 1991). This perspective required not only a strong sense of place and self, but imagination to create new ways of presenting archival materials in a culturally appropriate manner. It involved cooperation and engagement with others. Dennis’ work from 1983 onwards increasingly took materials outside the Archive walls into the wider world. In doing so he incorporated the values and practices he had learned from Witarina Harris, Barry Barclay, Merata Mita and the audiences for the films he had screened (Dennis, 1989). It also utilised his international contacts and knowledge, his cinematic sensibilities and theatrical flair.

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Medium 9780253016737

Epilogue: The Abandoned Offspring of Late Socialism

Constantin Parvulescu Indiana University Press ePub

THE MOST ILLUSTRATIVE social and political predicament for writing a coda to a study on subject production in socialist Eastern Europe is that of Romania of the 1980s. A dictatorship, almost as bombastic and as leader-centered as that of the Stalin era, emerges here in the last decade of socialism. Social revolution, increased nationalism, Stakhanovist industrial expectations, grand biopolitical and urban projects, and the production of a new subject are again high topics on the regime’s agenda. The population is more intensely mobilized and exposed to propaganda, its private lives more attentively scrutinized, its links with the rest of Europe more limited, and the pressure of social conformism more suffocating.

But Romania’s late socialist period, also known as the Ceaușescu era, was no Stalinism. It was an example of history repeating itself not as caricature, but as simulacrum. It lacked some of Stalinism’s basic ingredients. First of all, the timing: during Romania’s late socialism, international tensions had been loosened, state borders had been at least tacitly recognized, and the two-system cohabitation in Europe accepted. Europe was neither in ruins nor at a crossroads which could open toward a revolutionary road. The traditional bourgeois opposition had been silenced and the country’s economic structure transformed. The government talked insistently about human rights, and political violence was dampened. It was no longer articulated in a climate of reconstruction and hope, and most importantly it was no longer conceived as geared toward changing the world, but toward saving socialism and its elites.

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Medium 9780861966967

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

Klaus Kreimeier 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 9780253006486

8 Cannibal Apocalypse: Cannibal and Zombie Films

Ian Olney Indiana University Press ePub


Antonio Margheriti’s Apocalypse domani (Cannibal Apocalypse, 1980) tells the story of retired Green Beret captain Norman Hopper (John Saxon), who attempts to settle back into life in suburban Atlanta after serving in the Vietnam War, only to find that he is suffering not only from post-traumatic stress disorder, but also from a contagious virus that is slowly changing him into a bloodthirsty cannibal. The film opens with a flashback sequence detailing a wartime mission he led to rescue a pair of American POWs held captive at a North Vietnamese village. His unit storms the village and locates the two soldiers, Charlie Bukowski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and Tom Thompson (Tony King), who are imprisoned in a pit. Recognizing Bukowski as a hometown acquaintance, Norman drops to his knees and extends his hand to help the men out. As his eyes adjust to the gloom, however, he is horrified to see that they are busy feasting on the corpse of a young Vietnamese woman who fell into the pit with them during the firefight. Before Norman has time to react, Thompson lunges toward him and takes a bite out of his arm. The flashback ends, and Norman is back in the United States after his tour of duty, unable to adjust to life at home. He is emotionally distant from his wife, Jane (Elizabeth Turner), suffers from terrible nightmares, and battles an almost uncontrollable craving for human flesh. This craving – which family friend and psychiatrist Dr. Mendez (Ramiro Oliveros) variously describes to Jane as a “contagious illness that manifests itself as a form of rabies” and a “biological mutation due to a psychic alteration” – only grows more powerful when the supposedly cured Bukowski is released from a nearby mental hospital and insinuates himself into Norman’s life. Norman finds himself opening his refrigerator in the middle of the night to stare hungrily at a slab of raw meat that has begun to drip bloody juices onto the shelf below. During a guilty tryst with Mary (Cinzia De Carolis), a rebellious teenage girl who lives next door with her aunt and younger brother, he cannot keep himself from biting her leg in the throes of passion. Even when Bukowski is recommitted after a violent confrontation with the police at a local flea market, Norman cannot rein in his cannibalistic impulses. Ironically, it is when he visits the hospital where both Bukowski and Thompson are being held, desperate for treatment, that he finally surrenders to his urges, feasting on a lab technician and helping a nurse named Helen (May Heatherly), who has also been infected by the cannibal virus, to free his former army buddies. In a climax that recalls the ending of Carol Reed’s postwar thriller The Third Man (1949), the quartet of runaway cannibals are pursued by the police through the sewers of Atlanta, where they are gunned down one by one until only Norman survives. He returns home and dresses in formal military attire before shooting his wife – who has been infected by Dr. Mendez, a victim of nurse Helen – and then himself. Arriving belatedly, the police pronounce the strange case closed. In a twist ending, however, it is revealed that Norman’s teenage neighbor, Mary, and her younger brother have both contracted the contagious cannibal virus and are feeding on the flesh of their aunt, whom they have murdered and stored in their fridge.

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Medium 9780253356772

Appendix 2. Graveyard Visit

Harri Englund Indiana University Press ePub

A story broadcast on Nkhani Zam’maboma on July 25, 2003, followed by translation.

Mayi ŵina wa m’mudzi mwa [location omitted] akuti anapezeka ali kumanda masanasana dzuwa likuswa mtengo. Mayiwo amene wangoyamba kumene ntchito pa kampani in a kumzinda wa Blantyre akuti anapezeka atagona pa mitumbira iŵiri ya manda. Anthu atayang’anitsitsa pafupi ndi mayiwo, anapeza kuti panali kathumba momwe munapezeka zinthu monga malezala, singano ndi kabotolo momwe munali magazi. Atamufunsa chomwe amachita kumandako, iye anayankha kuti samadziŵa chomwe amachita ponamizira kuti ataledzera. Anthu ambiri akukhulupirira kuti mayiwo akufuna kukhwimira ntchito imene anayipeza kumene kuti asamuchotse ndiponso akuti akufuna chizimba choti atenthere uvuni ya njerwa zake zomwe akuti akufuna kumangira nyumba ya makono. Mwamuna woyamba wa mayiwo akuti anathawa zochita za ufiti za mayiwo zokhangati zomwezi. Mwamuna amene anakwatiŵa naye mayiwo panopa akuti akumukhwi-mira kuti asamachoke pa khomopo kuti azingosamalira ŵana cholinga choti iye azipanga zofuna zake.

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Medium 9781864620009

Body consciousness in the films of Jan Svankmajer

Edited by Jayne Pilling John Libbey Publishing ePub


I believe that body, figure, extension, movement and place are only fictions of my mind. What, then, shall be considered true? Perhaps only this, that there is nothing certain in the world.1

– Rene Descartes

We shall never completely master nature; and our bodily organism, itself a part of that nature, will always remain a transient structure with a limited capacity for adaptation and achievement. This recognition does not have a paralysing effect. On the contrary, it points the direction for our activity.2

– Sigmund Freud

The work of Jan Svankmajer, celebrated Czechoslovakian animator and avant-garde filmmaker, demonstrates an ongoing pre-occupation with the codes and conditions of bodily function and identity. His fictions are characterised by the recognition of transience in the body and the place of the body as a defining instrument in socio-cultural mechanisms and indeed, as a socio-cultural mechanism. Svankmajer uses the unique vocabulary of animation in expressing these principles and essentially re-defines the conditions by which the body might be represented and re-defined aesthetically and politically.

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Medium 9780861966820

John’s Brothers

Marie Beardmore John Libbey Publishing ePub


Like her youngest brother, John’s illustrious sister Anne has made her life in media and film. Not so, John’s two elder brothers, Michael and David, who chose very different life-paths.

Michael was the eldest by about two years, then David, and then after quite a long gap of some years, came Anne, who was two years older than John. Both John’s brothers went into the forces but embarked on very different life-paths. Michael went into North West Europe and was Captain Coates up until the end of the war. David went into the RAF, but he didn’t want to be commissioned and ended up having the laziest life according to John. “He was on the coast in Kenya for most of the war – don’t know whether it was radar, searching for aircraft and submarines during the whole of the Japanese time and never did anything amazing or brave, as he admitted when he got back. He had a really nice time, better than us being doodle bugged.” After the war, Michael had fallen in love with the local farmers wife, Kay, a Czech girl who had two daughters, and additionally they had a daughter of their own called Gay. He bought an open Delage, the French equivalent of a Bentley with a strap down bonnet and no hood, and set off with Kay and the three kids for the south of France, not knowing exactly what they were doing. Fortunately, Michael had money from his pension at the end of the war, and they went and settled in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, between Nice and Cannes. It was an old town and already had an established artists colony, and that’s where he settled and painted. He sold some paintings. He married Kay and lived there for quite some years.

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Medium 9780253352521

7 Anecdotes and the Literary Character

Ray Cashman Indiana University Press ePub

If Aghyaran anecdotes are uniquely suited for contemplating the characters of those people depicted in them, then we need to know more about the issue of character. Of course, the term “character” has several meanings. “Character” may have an evaluative connotation when defined as a person’s relative moral excellence. “Character” may also have the more neutral connotation of an individual’s disposition or essential nature. In this chapter, I am concerned with “character” in the sense of an individual portrayed in narrative. In local character anecdotes these portrayals are established through various strategies for displaying psychological and ethical traits. These traits distinguish one character from another, perhaps assigning a character to a recognizable type and allowing that character to embody a given ideological stance. Put another way, my task in this chapter is to discuss character in literary terms. At issue here is what narrative strategies are employed in local character anecdotes in Aghyaran to depict personality.

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Medium 9780253355560

8: How have Documentaries Addressed Social and Political Issues?

Bill Nichols Indiana University Press ePub

8    How Have Documentaries Addressed Social and Political Issues?


When we first asked “What to do with people?” in Chapter 2, our discussion fell primarily within an ethical frame. What consequences follow from different forms of response to and engagement with others? How may we represent or speak about others without reducing them to stereotypes, pawns, or victims? Similar questions arose in the discussion of the observational and participatory modes. These questions allow few easy answers, but they also suggest that the issues are not ethical alone. To act unethically or to misrepresent others involves politics and ideology as well.

In a harsh critique of the documentary tradition, especially as represented by television journalism, Brian Winston argues that 1930s documentary filmmakers in Great Britain took a romantic view of their working-class subjects; they failed to see the worker as an active, self-determining agent of change. Instead, the worker suffered from a “plight” that others, namely government agencies, should do something about.

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Medium 9780861966608

Chapter 9 Transnational Media and National Vision: Television in Liberalized India

NoContributor John Libbey Publishing ePub

The transformation of political values and objectives brought about by exposure to foreign programming and the entry of foreign capital in the national communicative space remains a significant concern for several observers of transnational media. Yet, the notion of values central to this discussion continues to be an abstraction in most literature. Terms such as beliefs, opinions, and political or social values commonly appear in discussions around media. Such investigations, however, require specified notions in the context of a community because of differentiated reception of foreign messages. Without doubt the entry of foreign media represents a salient development for local communities, their economies at the least, but the more explicit implications may be lost in broad discussions and conclusions.
Tracing values in their social and political context presents an essential exercise for furthering our understanding of global expansion of commercial media. Media institutions play multiple roles in a setting. The programming may offer illustrations of social and political realities of a community (Curran & Gurevitch, 1991; Ang, 2001). Communities also utilize local media institutions to articulate and reinforce their sense of community by providing communication sphere for community discussions. How does the entry of foreign corporations and commercialization of domestic media change this role and what form of threat does this present for community values?

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Medium 9780253353801

20 Brunswick = Fluxus

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Aaron Jaffe

The image of man is always intrinsically chronotopic.

This chapter considers the cultural meaning of “wood” in The Big Lebowski.

There are unusual quantities of wood in the film: paneling, floors, bowling alley lanes, furniture, numerous props, and so on. From the opening sequence of exquisitely shot bowling balls casting down wooden runways to the final encounter between the Dude and the Stranger bellied up to the wooden bowling alley bar, Lebowski makes the uncanny “cultural power of wood” conspicuous, as Harvey Green puts it in his book on this subject (xxii).

In Coen films—and in Lebowski especially—design takes on a degree of agency that moves its significance from the background into the foreground. The role of wood, in particular, underscores a decisive concern in the plot and a cultural innovation the film makes concerning it: the role of genealogy—as in the genealogical tree. The Lebowski family tree (Jeffrey, Bunny, the Dude, Maude, the little Lebowski on the way) is decidedly not arborescent in the sense Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari criticize in A Thousand Plateaus, because it’s hardly unidirectional, patrilinear, patrimonial, or branching ever vertically. Nor is it rhizomatic, the more famous alternative the pair propose to designate the non-hierarchical, heterogeneous, and horizontal. The Lebowski family wood might be more adequately described as lumberescent—cultural wood that functions no longer as a signifier of vertical or horizontal growth but as a plasticized gift and plaything of design.

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Medium 9780253007643

Part Two

Joshua Malitsky Indiana University Press ePub

We therefore take as the point of departure the use of the camera as a kino-eye, more perfect than the human eye, for the exploration of the chaos of visual phenomena that fills space.

The kino-eye lives and moves in time and space; it gathers and records impressions in a manner wholly different from that of the human eye. . . .

We are preparing a system, a deliberate system of such occurrences, a system of such seeming irregularities to investigate and organize phenomena.

Until now, we have violated the movie camera and forced it to copy the work of our eye. And the better the copy, the better the shooting was thought to be. Starting today we are liberating the camera and making it work in the opposite direction—away from copying.


The Young Pioneers was a Soviet version of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In the spring and summer of 1924, Dziga Vertov chronicled the activities of one Pioneer unit in a six-reel film that was to serve as the first part in a six-part documentary series about post-revolutionary activity called Life Off-Guard.1 The title of this installment, Kino-Eye on Its First Reconnaissance: First Episode of the Cycle “Life Off-Guard” (1924), offers a hint at its primary focus. The title does not mention the apparent object of the film—the Pioneers. Rather, it reveals the film’s interest in experimenting with a new theory of production (“kino-eye”).

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