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A blog about European Cinema and Media Studies



Copyright: (C) 2018 Jurgita Petrikaite
 



Guerilla Cinema: The 'Other' of Contemporary British Cinema by

Fri, 21 Mar 2008 09:32:00 GMT

This was an entirely refreshing find for a Good Friday Morning when I didn't have to get up early. Check this site out and send them some sponsorship money this is such a great idea!!!! Architecturally ands in terms of urbanism this has to be a good 'parafunctional space'. Guerilla Cinema: The 'Other' of Contemporary British Cinema Introduction I have entitled this posting 'guerilla' cinema because it is there to signify that ongoing tension or little war between mainstream cinema which is primarily about creating an ongoing business which feeds the creation of a cycle of stars, festival goings, critics and articles and slots in TV wotz'on this weekend on Friday nights. The more "artsy" it is the later it is broadcast. Film festivals by themselves or as a part of larger festivals are increasingly a part of the shift towards a "cultural industries" agenda which seeks to 'colonise the lifeworld' as the social theorist Habermas might describe it. For those of us who attend these things you are doubtless overburdened with evaluation  forms given out to gain audience feedback on the event space etc. Of course these are done as much as anything to cover the bums of the events organisers as anything else. They can be used to justify the event and to argue for "quality improvements" next time around. Of course this kind of surveillance of culture can kill any poetry in an event stone dead.  The idea for the posting came from reading an article in the latest Sight and Sound about the difficulties of distribution and exhibition for British independent filmmakers when even the "Arthouse" cinemas are increasingly showing the same fare, in a sort of mainstream for the middle-classes. Some of these issues of control are already covered elswhere in the blog. combining this perception with flicking through an issue of Architectural Design entitled Poetics in Architecture reminded me of how staid, sterile and boring everything which smacks of the 'New Labour' is or has become. This whole blog started out as an aid to Open Studies Learning which has emerged as "Lifelong Learning" in the New Labour lexicon of control terms. Whilst under the aegis of extra-mural studies this form of learning wasn't controlled in terms of having to make the students perform some work. The space of learning was poetic in as much as an enthusiast delivered a course and a group of people interested came and interacted with the content and in that specific learning space in a dynamic and performative way which wasn't subject to measurement and control. If people were disatisfied then they would move on. Many of the attendees had good qualifications in other areas but simply wanted to extend their ideas and knowledge base into different areas at a more informal level without writing essay etc. Now this form of education has become instrumentalised. Humans on the whole are inquisitive if they are not browbeaten into accepting false limitations.  The increasing commercialistion of spaces of alternative cinema at the same time create a residue 'a surplus' in which expressive and creative acts and desires find no menas of expression. The exponential explosion onto the web of YouTube and similar sites bears witness to this surplus of creativity which is largely outside of the commercial. Yet this is still unsatisfactory for cinema in its origins was a social space of F2F interactions amongst the audience. Here cinema intersects with architecture. This posting is the beginnings of an investigation into the possibilities of creating spaces of exhibition for an ever expanding multi-media consciousness which like many popular music forms seeks recognition but is also part of an unfolding cultural dynamic in which a search for 'poetry' which is defined here as a resistance to the rationalisation and control of all aspects of social life. It is a search for performative cinematic space which is 'parafunctional' in the words of Nikos Papastergiadis.  Par[...]



Mise-en-scène & Textual Analysis: Part One by

Sat, 01 Mar 2008 07:18:29 GMT

The Importance of Mise-en-scène and Textual Analysis: Part 1 Preface  For those visitors who are reading this piece to help them with an 'A' level textual analysis exam, you will find that the term mise-en-scène is a contested one. The OCR Textual Analysis paper specification is largely following the position of the writers Bordwell and Thompson in their book Film Art: An Introduction. Consequently there is a clear list of its expectations. an on-line page from Northallerton College has usefully put the OCR details up. You do need to be aware that there is a debate about exactly what constitutes mise-en-scène. Learning at A level should partially be a matter of recognising that things in the world aren't entirely black and white.   At the end of the day, the essay you are expected to write based upon an unseen scene from an action-adventure movie needs to discuss the creation of meaning using the various elements of film-making. In that sense the film as presented to you on the screen can be considered as an organic whole which stimulates a range of meanings and interpretations. You need to write about how these various elements contribute towards the holistic meaning. You will need to say why certain shots, for example, created a deeper sense of meaning for the audience.   Introduction:  The issue of mise-en-scène and textual analysis in terms of the importance of creating meaning within a film is a very large topic. Below there is some discussion about the term mise-en-scène. There is some discussion of depth of field with some video links. Use of depth of field creatively is a very important tool.There is some discussion around the notion of cinematic space and the use of different types of shots to help organise the cinematic space. Sound, which is a very important component creating meaning, is not discussed at all here and must be discussed elsewhere in order to keep the article of a manageable size. There is an extract from Once Upon a Time in the West followed by a shot and spatial analysis to show how meaning can be created. There is doubtless more that can be said here and some aspects will probably be revised and developed in due course. There are also some definitions and a Webliography and Bibliography. What is Mise-en-Scène? Mise-en-scène is an extremely important aspect of cinema and in many ways it is surprising that there is relatively little misè-en-scene criticism in recent film studies writing. John Gibbs (2002) focuses in the problem of misè-en-scene criticism in the opening page of his small handbook on the subject which I have paraphrased: ...mise-en-scène is sometimes used as a straightforward descriptive term but it is really a concept complicated but central to a developed understanding of film... ...Thinking and writing of misè-en-scene which is concerned with visual style in the cinema - helped the study of film reach maturity. Yet many of the textbooks of today, including those which aim to give an introduction to the subject area, underestimate the importance of misè-en-scene. (Gibbs 2002, p 1)  This term misè-en-scene originally came from theatre and meant staging. Its literal translation from the French means: having been put into the scene It crossed over into cinema relating to the production practices involved in the framing of shots. This covers the sets, costumes and lighting and also movement within the frame. As this is the expressive tool available to a filmmaker analysis of mise-en-scene is a way of identifying a particular filmmaker. As a theory it was developed by those interested in how the director and sometimes the team could participate in the construction of meaning.  Mise-en-scène is a term employed in theatre to designate the contents of the stage and their arrangement. In cinema however the reference is ra[...]



British Directors: Paul Andrew Williams by

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 18:06:38 GMT

British Directors: Paul Andrew Williams Go to London to Brighton (2006) Director Paul Andrew Williams Brief Overview Paul Andrew Williams  has proved to be a highly successful new British director. His first feature film London to Brighton was very successful for a low budget film. This has helped to attract more support from the purseholders.  Williams' next film is going to be The Cottage. It is a thriller which includes in its acting line-up Andy Serkis who was in Lord of the Rings. The UK Film Council's Premiere Fund has provided £770,000 of backing. Isle of Man Film, Screen Yorkshire and Pathe have also provided support.  Awards  London to Brighton won the Skillset New Director’s Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film has also won the Jury Prizes at Dinard and Raindance, and earned three nominations at the British Independent Film Awards. London to Brighton named by The Guardian as “best British film of the year” Filmography  London to Brighton. Pimp Derek orders Kelly to get him a girl for a client  London to Brighton (2006) The Cottage 2008 '...an anarchic, gory horror-comedy' The Cottage (2008) Webliography  Sight and Sound London to Brighton Review BBC  Film Network. Includes video extract. Shooting People Blog: Interview with Paul Williams Kingston University: Paul Williams becomes a visiting professor Guardian Interview with Williams on bad critical reception of The Cottage Guardian Review of The Cottage Film Availability:  A DVD is currently available  RETURN TO BRITISH DIRECTORS HUB PAGE [...]



In This World: Michael Winterbottom by

Wed, 26 Dec 2007 11:35:08 GMT

In This World: 2002. Dir. Michael Winterbottom Introduction This entry is currently going to be limited to being a webliography. It is part of an ongoing analysis of contemporary British cinema and its responses to the processes of globalisation and diaspora which are a major feature of contemporary networked society. As such it is cross linked to this entry: Contemporary British Cinema: Representing the World Locally Awards and Accolades Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear 2003 BAFTA Film Award 2004  best film not in the English Language category.   Webliography  BBC Review In This World BBC Interview with Michael Winterbottom Wikipedia In This World  Indiewire disussion with Michael Winterbottom Daily Telegraph review: In This World Chris Darke on Globalisation and In This World Guardian on In This World Observer commentary on In This World. (Very useful comments on the industrial and exhibitionary background) Tony Grisoni on his role in In This World  Screenonline Bibliography of Michael Winterbottom  Daily Telegraph Film Makers on Film: Michael Winterbottom Senses of Cinema on Michael Winterbottom Philip French Observer Review Film Availability :           In This World is available from MovieMail here.   RETURN TO BRITISH DIRECTORS HUB PAGE [...]



What is a British Film? by

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 22:49:48 GMT

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Qualifying as a British film & tax relief

Introduction  

One of the puzzling questions for A Level Students is what counts as a British film. It isn't very obvious as the murky world of film financing , tax dodges (sorry  breaks) can make  very unlikley films "British. Because of this there are several benchmarks that can be applied. Everything below the introduction  is taken from the UK Film Council site. Clicking on the links will bring you to the current definitions.

For most normal people rather than international financiers, the so called "cultural test " is the one which we would apply. To pass the cultural test the proposed film must get 16 out of 31 marks. The full table of how to get this can be found by clicking on the appropriate link. This cultural test is largely in accord with the principles of "Cultural Citizenship" which seeks to ensure a diverse set of representations of people within a particular culture at a particular historical moment. 

However for the purposes of the exam you will need to be aware of the differing benchmarks and definitions. It is worth pointing out again that the British film industry is much more than British Films.  Many people are employed in software or technical positions which are largely dependent upon Hollywood. Thus the British film industry can be doing well when the range of British films produced can be very thin on the ground  

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Qualifying as a British Film

Qualifying as a British film provides a number of advantages; productions are eligible to apply for UK Film Council funding and for the benefits of the UK’s tax relief structures. Films can qualify as British in one of three ways. They must meet the requirements of one of the following:

    • One of the UK’s official bilateral co-production treaties, or

    • The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production

    • The Cultural Test (Schedule 1 to the Films Act 1985)

    Co-production

    For information on qualifying as a British film via the UK’s official bilateral co-production treaties or the European Convention, click here.

    Cultural Test
    For information on qualifying as a British Film using the Cultural Test, click here.

    Tax Relief
    For information on the UK's system of Tax Relief for British Films, click here.

    European Certificate of British Nationality
    British qualifying films are eligible for an European Certificate of British Nationality. For information on qualifying for an European Certificate of British Nationality, click here.




    Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City by

    Thu, 06 Sep 2007 22:21:18 GMT

    Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City. 2006. Mark Shiel. Wallflower Press Short Cuts Series Paperback Return to film Studies Book Reviews In all of this, the notion of representing ‘the real’ – real society, real cities, real people – has become more and more compromised and indeed commodified. In this cultural climate, perhaps the time is right to reclaim the real for its radical potential. (Shiel p 127) Visconti's Ossessione Introduction I still think that Italian Cinema from 1943 to approximately 1980 is the most productive and interesting one of any national cinema. Sadly it is becoming less well known as this period disappears into history. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly any  serious study of the period is embedded in Italian departments and knowledge is thus limited to a few cognoscenti. Neorealism is one of the few aspects of Italian cinema taught more generally on film studies courses however this is often restricted to a brief chapter in a more general film history book. Yet ,as Shiel’s last paragraph cited above notes, rather than the solidarity of early neorealism being an historical occurrence perhaps the sentiments and general approach of neorealism are due a revival. As globalisation runs its course leaving pockets of bitter poverty in even the richest countries and in countries like Brazil leading to bullet proof cars and helicopters for the upper classes representing the real seems to be becoming a priority. Shiel’s recent book on neorealism is therefore more than welcome because it allows the interested follower of Italian cinema and also students an accessible but authoritative route into this fascinating period of European and Italian history in greater depth. The reader won't put of by the intensely theoretical work which is aimed at a very small target audience of those already in the know which is in part unfortunate outcome of the pressure of the research assessment exercise in Universities. I strongly recommend this to colleagues in the tertiary sector who teach courses such as the neorealism option on the World Cinema unit for the WJEC A level. It may also be useful for student supervisors of the OCR critical research project area for those taking the World Cinema option. Whilst the book will be too difficult for most sixth formers it will prove a remarkable useful resource which is very well informed indeed as well as original and imaginative and well written as one would expect from somebody who is teaching on the recently upgraded film studies depart at Kings College London. Technical Aspects of the Book It may seem a little churlish and pedantic to be critical of the book’s organisation but it would have been useful to have had pages references in the index to mentions of specific films, perhaps under the name of the director as Bondanella does in his large general history of Italian cinema. It is very useful to be able to navigate straight to comment upon a particular film without having to trawl through the book. As none of the other books in this series do this perhaps Wallflower will think about doing this should the titles come out in revised editions which many of them deserve to. What is Neorealism? The iconic image of Anna Magnani as Pina moments before being gunned down in Rossellini's Roma Citta Aperta   (Link to BBC interview with Rossellini on this Rossellini page) Defining Neorealism very precisely is fraught with difficulties. Discourse around Neorealism tends to fall into two schools of thought however Shiel neatly sidesteps this with a convincing argument. Defining any cultural moment is notoriously difficult and the more closely the object of research is gazed upon the more heterogeneous it can seem. Shiel notes that the term Neorealism can be used ‘flexibly&rsq[...]



    Rossellini and the French New Wave by

    Wed, 22 Aug 2007 23:29:56 GMT

    Roberto Rossellini & the French New Wave  It is generally acknowledged by most critics that Roberto Rossellini was an enormous influence in the development of the French New Wave. Andre Bazin considered that Rossellini was hugely important in the development of a realist aesthetic within cinema and his viewpoint strongly influenced the young critics cum filmmakers especially Truffaut and Godard. McCabe in his recent biography of Godard emphasises the point: It is impossible to overstate [the] Rossellini’s importance for both Godard and the Nouvelle Vague. Bazin’s theories are unthinkable outside of a continuous dialogue with Rossellini’s brilliant war trilogy, but he was also the director for the young critics in the fifties... Roberto was sans pareil. He was the man who had not only provided a totally new film-making practice for Europe in the postwar years but who had gone to Hollywood and won the most beautiful of Hitchock’s actresses, Ingrid Bergman. The series of films he made with her... For Cahiers were the very definition of modern cinema. (McCabe, 2004, p 161)           McCabe argues that it was Voyage to Italy that was the most admired. McCabe notes that Le Mepris by Godard can be read as a remake of Voyage to Italy although of course the endings are radically different with Rossellini being immensely optimistic at the end whilst for Godard there is death. I argue elsewhere on this blog discussing Visconti's Bellissima that Godard's metacinematic approach to Le Mepris links his work to that of Visconti as well.             The connections between Truffaut and Rossellini are if anything even stronger as Ingrams and Holmes (1998) point out. Bazin had introduced Truffaut to Rossellini in 1954 and Truffaut worked with him ‘intermittently’ as an assistant director between 1955-1956. Rossellini didn’t make any films in these years but Truffaut gained experience of pre-production in the preparation of scenarios rather than the process of practical production.           The recent re-release of Voyage to Italy from the BFI with a commentary option by Laura Mulvey opens up an opportunity to reassess Rossellini’s work and its influence upon the Nouvelle Vague Cahiers critics. For Rossellini location shooting was a pre-requisite of cinema and although he used the well established Hollywood lead actors Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders part of the reason that they were affordable was because they had already peaked in Hollywood. Mulvey notes that Rossellini gave Sanders a hard time during the shooting and that Rossellini was seeking to breakdown the Hollywood professionalism of Sanders and to get the real Sanders to come through. As for the rest of the cast it was a mixture of minor actors non-professionals and friends. The music was scored by Rossellini’s brother who had worked with him on many occasions. This then was a classic authorial approach to production. With regard to the realism of the shooting it is worth noting the many shots taken from the point of view of the car and in the car. There is a marked contrast between the way these are shot and the studio work of Clouzot’s car scenes in Les Diaboliques made two years later.           Apart from the actual conditions of film-making the film can be marked out as distinctively modernistic in terms of how it treated narrative. Mulvey emphasises this aspect of the film describing it as ‘the first modern film’. By this she means that the film is resistant to a modernity marked by its instrumentalism and its emphasis on driving forward narrative goals in a way which emulated the instr[...]



    Francois Truffaut's New Wave Films: Issues of Youth, Sex, Stars & Gender by

    Sun, 08 Jul 2007 07:23:39 GMT

    Introduction Of all the new young French directors who came to prominence between 1958-1964 Francois Truffaut is currently the most written about. Truffaut’s key films from this period are 400 Blows (1959), Shoot the Piano Player (1960) and Jules et Jim (1961). In 400 Blows the character Antoine Doinel a schoolboy, who is at odds with his parents, school and society  is introduced. The film won Truffaut the best director’s  prize at Cannes in 1959 and firmly placed him on the map of French film directors.  Below some of the circumstances of these films are explored. Firstly the article notes the position of the changing representations of youth, it then develops some issue, themes and concerns within Truaffaut's three key films of the Nouvelle Vague. Finally the article relates these films to issues of gender and the specific kind of femininity represented in the New Wave. It also questions whether Truffaut's films can be understood as being misogynistic.   A Celebration of Youth Begins In Europe  and the USA the phenomenon of youth as having a separate cultural identity had started. 400 Blows gains much of its vibrancy from a representation of youth which is totally different to anything which had come before. How far its elements are autobiographical are unclear however this to some extent irrelevant for Doinel acts as an allegory for the position of youth in France. France in this representation was seen as repressive and thoroughly hierarchical suffering the hangovers of an imperialist nation which had been invaded and was undergoing severe post-war stress as problems in Algeria and Vietnam started to emerge.    There is something of the freshness and vigour of both Vigo the pre-war French director and the neo-realist approach of Roberto Rossellini in Truffaut’s approach - Truffaut had worked for Rossellini who was even a witness at his marriage.  In Rossellini's Roma Citta Aperta (1945) a young tearaway and his followers played an important role in symbolising resistance to Nazi occupation and the closing scene of children walking into a future Italy was symbolically powerful.  400 Blows is not so clearly optimistic as Roma citta aperta. It challenges the audience through its open ending.  Antoine having successfully escaped from the institution and standing at the seaside is in a state of confusion: where next? is the question posed by the closing shot on his face. The shot begs the question what is the future of this boy. Does the audience want him to go back to the reform school, how do they want Antoine’s life to proceed? are his parent’s good influences? There are no straightforward answers for Antoine is in a very confused and ambiguous position. Antoine has been mistreated, yet at times is dishonest as the interview with the psychologist makes clear. It is the underlying quest of the film to place the audience in a position of reflexivity which makes the film so effective and makes it a part of a distinctly modern tradition. The film thus  poses a question for France. Its politics are thus linked to its form. 400 Blows Doinel appears as a character in many of Truffaut’s subsequent films. There are strong autobiographical references in this film and it is claimed that the film contributed to the divorce of Truffaut’s parents.  Apparently they were very upset by the contents as Doinel’s parents are very unsympathetic characters. Apparently Albert Remy who played the father bore quite a strong resemblance to Truffaut’s father. Gillain points out that interviews with Truffaut revealed two contradictory positions on the film’s status as autobiographical having claimed that he had experienced all the hardships represented in the film and denied that the film was his a[...]



    British Women Film directors by

    Sat, 16 Jun 2007 05:59:45 GMT

    British Women Film Directors Return to British Cinema Hub Page Introduction Whilst of general interest to those dealing with issues of gender and cinema this posting should prove useful to those studying Women and Film within the current OCR specification. Given the large number of British films and the very small number of Women directors the average rocket scientist can swiftly work out that there is a serious gender imbalance within the industry in the UK.   The Directors This list of directors is taken from the BFI list of Directors in British and Irish Cinema plus some additions. Sue Clayton isn't in the list although appears elsewhereon the site. Nor does Andrea Arnold feature in the list. Arnold recently made the film Red Road (2006) and has won at the Oscars and at Cannes. The list amounts to 11 women film directors in the history of British cinema. Not a good record over the last 100 years. Of these several are active film makers and can be included in the specification for OCR Contemporary British Cinema. Of these 11 directors five are currently active and include: Andrea Arnold, Antonia Bird, Gurinder Chadha, Sally Potter, Lynne Ramsey. Adler, Carine (1948-) Arnold Andrea (1961 -) Bird, Antonia (1959 -) Box Muriel (1905 - 1991)  Chadha, Gurinder (1960 -) Clayton Sue (? ) Craigie, Jill (1911 - 1999) Grierson, Ruby (1904-1940)  Mander, Kay (1915 - )  Mulvey, Laura (1941 - ) Potter, Sally (1949 - )  Ramsey Lynne ( 1969 -) Toye, Wendy (1917 - ) Webliography Guardian feature on the 'Celluloid Ceiling' Kate Kellaway Guardian blog: Why is that film-making continues to be the most gender inequitable career in the arts? Rachel Millward Guardian blog: Kate Kellaway asked what could be done to encourage more women into film-making. Here are my suggestions. Rachel Millward is the organiser for the Bird's Eye View Women's Film Festival. It is solely to celebrate women film makers and started in 2005 in venues across London. Return to British Cinema Hub Page [...]



    British Cinema: Social Realism - Webliography by

    Sat, 16 Jun 2007 00:03:27 GMT

    Introduction This page functions as a portal into the important strand of British filmmaking described as social realist. Laid out chronologically this portal will be particularly useful for: * Those unfamiliar with the history of the British cinema  * Students following undergraduate film studies course to provide an overview before tackiling more in depth work  * 'A' level media students following the current (2006 /07) OCR Media A2 Unit on Media Issues & Debates: Contemporary British Cinema. For the OCR unit it will historically contextualise the continuing use of social realism as a successful film form * The WJEC Film Studies A level "British & Irish Cinema" Unit. Overview Social realism has played an important role in both British cinema and TV. The British documentary movement which developed under the leadership of John Grierson  was enormously influential in stimulating what became a strand of fiction film described as social realism. Humphrey Jennings who started out with this movement brought a sense of the surreality of popular culture in everyday life to his work. His wartime docu-dramas and documentary work are exemplary pieces of art working across genres to produce some of the best work ever made by a British director. Jennings was an inspiration to Lindsay Anderson and those who gathered around him in the British 'Free Cinema'. Technical discoveries by cameraman Walter Lassally were to influence the work of the French New Wave Filmmakers and cinematographers.  The documentary work made by them led into the 'British New Wave' at the beginning of the 1960s. This in turn led to social realist films and TV documentaries in the mid to late sixties with Ken Loach and Producer Tony Garnett being exemplary. Cathy Come Home was a TV drama which heldped the housing charity Shelter to set up. Poor Cow and Kes are classic Loach films from this period. While the 1970s and 1980s saw less work of this style films such as Meantime by Mike Leigh were very influential. The actor Gary Oldman was outstanding in this and returned to this form as a director in Nil by Mouth made in the late 1990s. There was a return to popularity for this kind of film in the 1990s particularly by Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. This has continued up until 2006 with Ken Loach winning the Palm d'or at the Cannes festival for The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) combining social realism with history. Brtish social realism has also been strongly influential in other types of films which have combined genres into hybrids such as social-realist / comedy. The Full Monty (1997) and Brassed Off (1996) are good examples of this. Perhaps the first hybrid of this type was Billy Liar (1963) at the end of the British New Wave. This film provided a bridge into the 'Swinging Sixties' particularly in the next film by John Schlesinger Darling which starred Julie Christie  as well. The BFI "Screenonline article on comedy" cites several films which also appear  elsewhere as social realistically inflected. Films dealing with changing British identity often combine social realist aspects of life with comedy including East is East (1999) and Bend it Like Beckham (2002). Webliography laid out chronologically This covers the British documentary movement and via Free Cinema moves into British Social Realism  John Grierson Trust John Grierson Director Page Empire Marketing Board Documentary Film Units and Film Sponsorship BFI Screenonline Biography of Paul Rotha Humphrey Jennings Kinoeye:  Humphrey Jennings page. Links previously on this page are now on the above page plus many m[...]