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Showing posts from May, 2015

The Non-Circuit Festival

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This week I am attending the Transilvania International Film Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It's part of my goal to attend more film festivals - I'm a newcomer to festivals and festival studies - and the dates lined up for me for this one. Also, I have seen a couple of very strong Romanian documentaries and am curious how nonfiction might be in dialogue with recent Romanian New Wave  films.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me has been how local this festival feels. Unlike Sarajevo Film Festival, which is split between a local audience, regional industry participants, and members of the international film circuit, TIFF (not to be confused with Toronto, of course) draws an overwhelmingly Romanian audience. At some screenings, in fact, I have been the only non-Romanian in attendance. This is not to deny the national significance of the festival (it's the most important one for Romanian fiction film) and the international nature of European coproduction and distribution. And…

The Radicality of the New Archival Doc

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A German Youth (Une jeunessse allemande)
dir. Jean-Gabriel Périot, 2015, France/Switzerland/Germany
Genre: historical compilation film

There's been a lot of exploration lately within the historical documentary that has opened up the archival footage to function in different ways than a typical recollective documentary, which subsumes the meaning of the archival footage to a rigid historical idea. In one direction, documentaries have understood the document as an artifact to be highlighted and explored for its own meaning, its own historicity and texture - I'm thinking for instance of the home movies in Our Nixon. In the other direction, the found footage film has an influence on documentarians who want to resignify official history by treating archival footage differently, obliquely - Loznitsa's or Forgacs's work comes to mind.

But what if we push both directions simultaneously? A German Youth does just that and in the process raises the question of how we apprehend th…

Conferences Summer 2015 edition

Here is my current list of English-language conferences of interest to those in film studies (and some for TV and media studies). Upcoming conferences are listed in order by date or, for open calls, by abstract due date. Please let me know if I should add anything.  I will update this post throughout the summer.
Closed calls: ICA - San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 21-25, 2014 [website ] Console-ing Passions - Dublin, Ireland, June 18-20, 2015 [website] The Annual Conference of the Film Studies Association of Canada - June 2-4, 2015 Theme: “Capital Ideas” [website] Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Images (SCSMI) Jun 17-20, 2015, Birkbeck, University of London [website] NECS - Łódź, Poland, June 18-20, 2015 Theme: "Archives of/for the Future" [website] Screen - Univ of Glasgow, June 26-28, 2015 Theme: "Screening Animals and the Inhuman" [website] Visible Evidence XXII - Toronto, Aug 19-23, 2015 [website] UFVA - American University, Washington, DC, Aug 4-8, 2015 [website]

Mallwalkers

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Mallwalkers
dir. Sean Clark, 2014, US
Genre: Observational Short
Not currently in distribution

Mallwalkers has a straightforward topic: the (mostly) older Minnesotans who powerwalk though the Mall of America in the morning. The film intercuts between four sets of "characters," and perhaps inevitably walks the line between ironizing humor and humanizing portrait. There's such a palpable sense that the documentary imagines an audience who is socially distant from the Midwestern subjects, but Mallwalkers does not overly exploit.this dynamic. It's poised to be a festival audience hit while also functioning as a small-scale observational piece.


The counterpoint would be the opening and closing shots, whose carefully composed view of the mall spaces contrasts with the moving and following camera of the observational footage.