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Cinema Studies

Cinema Studies


By Ehsan Khoshbakht

Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll - Iranian style! A personal journey through the history of Iranian popular cinema before the revolution and the world of "filmfarsi", a term referring to the rowdy and melodramatic genre films made from the early 1950s to 1979.

Filmfarsi provides a fascinating archaeology of "the biggest secret in cinema history" (The Guardian) - a compelling window into a lost past. This documentary uncovers a cinema of titillation, action and big emotions, which presented a troubling mirror for the country, as Iran struggled to reconcile its religious traditions with the turbulence of modernity, and the influences of the West.

Four years in the making, Filmfarsi features clips from more than 100 films, almost all banned in their country of production.

DVD / 2020 / 83 minutes

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Directed by Xavier Burgin

Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, HORROR NOIRE traces a secret history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting executive producer Robin Means Coleman's seminal book, HORROR NOIRE will present the living and the dead, using new and archival interviews from scholars and creators; the voices who survived the genre's past trends, to those shaping its future.

Includes interviews with Ernest R. Dickerson, Meosha Bean, Ashlee Blackwell and Robin R. Means Coleman.

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2019 / 83 minutes

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By Julio Alves

A documentary portrait of famed director Pedro Costa, whose masterworks include Horse Money, Colossal Youth, In Vanda's Room and Casa de Lava.

Costa's work is explored using film clips and in his own words. Despite occasional glimpses into Costa's office, he remains an enigmatic personality, which we know only through his work and creative processes. How he thinks, what he feels, and how he lives must be derived from his work.

DVD / 2019 / 65 minutes

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By Denis Cote

A man goes into the woods alone. We know nothing about him, apart from his military-style attire with a nametag indicating he might be called Wilcox. Is he a traumatized veteran, a survivalist, a desperate man or even a philosopher-hermit?

A documentary-style fictional film, a minimalist adventure yarn haunted by reality, Wilcox is both simple and mysterious. With encounters whose dialogue is inaudible, a sound design that transports reality into the world of the mind, and strangely filtered images to distance us, Wilcox, the latest film from award-winning filmmaker Denis Cote (Bestiaire, Curling, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear) is a nonjudgmental perspective on people who decide to remove themselves from the world, giving no clues as to why.

DVD / 2019 / 66 minutes

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By Sandhyu Suri

Award-winning filmmaker Sandhya Suri (I for India) skillfully weaves together archival footage-including hand colored sequences-with a new score by composer Soumik Datta to create an emotionally resonant story about life across India from 1899 to 1947.

Drawn exclusively from the BFI National Archive, Around India features some of the earliest surviving film from India as well as gorgeous travelogues, intimate home movies and newsreels from British, French and Indian filmmakers. Taking in Maharajas and Viceroys, fakirs and farmhands and personalities such as Sabu and Gandhi, the film explores not only the people and places of over 70 years ago, but asks us to engage with broader themes of a shared history, shifting perspectives in the lead up to Indian independence and the ghosts of the past.

DVD (Color, Black and White, Closed Captioned) / 2018 / 72 minutes

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Directed by Sari Braithwaite
By Chloe Brugale

Deep in the vaults of the Australian National Archives lie thousands upon thousands of celluloid scraps: scenes that were cut by government censors from films imported into the country between the years of 1958-1971. Peppered through this collection are banned scenes from some of the most influential directors in history, including Godard, Polanski, Bergman, Varda and Fellini. But censorship extended to hundreds of forgotten films-from avant-garde and documentary films to Hollywood B-movies.

When Sari Braithwaite gained unprecedented access to this mysterious collection, she though she could create a work to liberate this censored archive, to honour these displaced frames, and condemn censorship. But, after years of bearing witness to these fragments of film, this archive became challenging and unnerving. It felt almost impossible to celebrate or reconcile.

[CENSORED] is a work stitched entirely from these never-before-seen artefacts of censorship: it is the story of how one filmmaker confronted an archive to reckon with film, censorship, and the power of the gaze.

Featuring an acclaimed soundtrack by Munro Melano and the End, [CENSORED] is an entertaining and provacative polemic, challenging audiences with questions that defy easy answers. Just as the censor and the filmmaker are amde complicit, so is the audience, who bear witness to this ambitious work.

DVD (Color, Black and White, Closed Captioned) / 2018 / 66 minutes

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Director: Rauzar Alexander

What do Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Patti LuPone and Alex Sharp have in common? They are but a few of the extraordinary actors who have studied under Moni Yakim at Juilliard, America's greatest performing arts school. With interviews with Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie and Kevin Kline, this compelling portrait of the master teacher-the sole remaining founder of the school's legendary Drama Division-takes us inside the drama classes where Moni and his wife Mina pour their love and passion into preparing the next generation of actors for the spotlight.

DVD / 2018 / 76 minutes

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By Cordelia Dvorak

MARCELINE. A WOMAN. A CENTURY is a fascinating portrait of the persevering French filmmaker, writer, and Holocaust survivor Marceline Loridan-Ivens (1928-2018).

Marceline was only 15 when both she and her father, a Polish Jew from Lódz, were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She survived but her father didn't, and Marceline had to find radical and unconventional ways to heal after the tragedies of the war. In 1961, she appeared in Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin's landmark film Chronicle of a Summer, which gave birth to the term cinema verité. Later she married the legendary Dutch documentary director Joris Ivens, traveled with him to Vietnam, and co-directed films such as 17th Parallel: Vietnam in War (1968) and How Yukong Moved the Mountains (1976).

Filmed as she was nearing 90 years old and living in Paris, MARCELINE. A WOMAN. A CENTURY spans the broad arc of her life from Holocaust survivor to political activist to combatively critical filmmaker. Looking back on the momentous events she experienced and filmed such as the Algerian and Vietnam Wars and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, MARCELINE is a thought-provoking chronicle of a remarkable witness of the 20th century.

DVD (French, Color, Closed Captioned) / 2018 / 58 minutes

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By Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

MOTHERTIME is a personal video diary that takes us on a corporeal journey in parenting via a small portable Go-Pro camera. Worn by both mother and child, or left on any surface and turned on and off remotely, the camera over the period of a year and a half captures a real-time, sensorial journey spanning the frenetic to mundane.

Set primarily amidst scenes at home, the film explores the whimsical, ordinary, sometimes claustrophobic repeating loops of work and play in daily domestic life. The audience is drawn into the raw and messy reality of the mother-daughter relationship as the markers of toddlerhood become the turning points of the film itself. Early mobility, language acquisition and increasing child independence provide an intimate perspective of the mother–child relationship, intentionally blurring where the mother ends and the child begins.

Like the fictional film, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, MOTHERTIME explores the boundaries of time and home to invite the viewer to see the labor of motherhood as neither romanticized nor banal, while it plays in the physical and emotional space between mother and child.

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2018 / 60 minutes

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By Eugene Richards

Thy Kingdom Come - a collaboration between photographer/filmmaker Eugene Richards and actor/producer Javier Bardem - was conceived of following the filming of Terrence Malick's To the Wonder.

As part of that production's "third unit," Richards introduced Bardem, who was portraying a parish priest in Malick's film, to the real-life residents of a small Oklahoma town. What had been intended as brief episodes for inclusion in the feature film grew in scope as the townspeople, wholly aware that he was a fictional priest, chose to share personal details of their lives.

Filmed in a dozen homes, a trailer park, a county jail, and a local nursing facility, Thy Kingdom Come is a revelatory work in which unscripted conversations, shot by Richards in beautiful widescreen, come to reveal the complexity of life in this small oil town.

DVD / 2018 / 42 minutes

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By Catherine Hebert

In 1985, Claude Lanzmann debuted one of the most monumental cinematic works of all time, Shoah, the nine hour documentary on the Holocaust told through interviews with both perpetrators as well as survivors. Ziva Postec, the editor of Shoah, was an indispensable part of the project.

Postec dedicated six years of her life, from 1979 to 1985, working closely with Lanzmann, to construct the right pace and sequence for the 350 hours of footage. In this fascinating documentary, Postec recalls this gargantuan, painful and necessary experience, as well as revealing the the film's profound impact on her personal life.

Supplemented with previously unseen images from the making of Shoah, Ziva Postec is a moving portrait of an artist who for a long time has largely gone unnoticed, eclipsed by the towering presence of her male colleague.

DVD / 2018 / 92 minutes

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By Laurent Vedrine

Jean Rouch first went to Niger in 1941 as a 24-year-old civil engineer, building roads in the French colony. But unlike other colonists, he came to see Nigeriens as equals, spending much of the next 60 years in West Africa.

Much has been written about how Rouch's films, blending fiction and documentary, road movie and ethnography, influenced the French Nouvelle Vague and the cinema verite movement. But JEAN ROUCH, THE ADVENTUROUS FILMMAKER is unique in its exploration of the less well-known role Rouch and his films played in developing cinema in Niger, from working with local crews, to featuring Nigeriens on camera, to a fascination with telling Nigerien stories that continue to resonate.

It was a meeting with 18-year-old fisherman Damoure Zika that would set Rouch on his future path. With Zika as intermediary, Rouch was allowed to film a ceremony with his grandmother, the conduit for a spirit that would possess her. This sparked his interest in ethnography, a practice he approached with openness and lack of judgment. In contrast with filmmakers of the era who set themselves apart from the "others" they were filming, Rouch collaborated with locals such as Zika-who both co-directs and appears in many films-and screened cuts with his subjects, encouraging them to offer input and make changes.

During the course of his career, Rouch made over 120 films. The excerpts in this documentary capture their astounding range-from the comedy of COCORICO! MONSIEUR POULET to the striking MOI, UN NOIR, which launched the career of great Nigerien director Oumarou Ganda, to the shocking and controversial THE MAD MASTERS, which captured a violent possession ritual that Rouch saw as offering an outlet for the traumas of colonialism. Rouch's work was not without controversy, especially when it comes to his shaping the realities he films, and the accusation that he sometimes sensationalizes through his outsider's gaze, concerns that are addressed here.

JEAN ROUCH, THE ADVENTUROUS FILMMAKER features archival interviews with Rouch, a wealth of excerpts from his films, and interviews with an array of West African commentators: Rouch's longtime collaborator and sound engineer Moussa Hamidou, filmmakers Sani Magori, Aïcha Maky, and Abdoulaye Boka, ethnologist and filmmaker Mariama Hima, teacher and researcher Antoinette Tidjani Alou, and author and illustrator Sani Djibo.

DVD (French, Color, Black and White, With English Subtitles) / 2017 / 55 minutes

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By Eryk Rocha

CINEMA NOVO is a film essay that poetically investigates the eponymous Brazilian film movement, the most prominent in Latin America in the past century, through the analysis of its main auteurs: Nelson Pereira do Santos, Glauber Rocha, Leon Hirszman, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Ruy Guerra, Caca Diegue, Walter Lima Jr, Paulo Cesar Saraceni, among others.

DVD (Color) / 2016 / 90 minutes

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By Stuart A. Staples
Music by tindersticks

This meditative, immersive film by tindersticks' Stuart A. Staples is a tribute to the astonishing work and achievements of naturalist, inventor and pioneering British filmmaker F. Percy Smith (1880-1945).

Based in a studio in north London in the early years of the 20th century, Percy Smith developed the use of time-lapse, animation and micro-photographic techniques to capture nature's secrets in action. He worked in a number of public roles, including the Royal Navy and British Instructional Films, Smith was prolific and driven, often directing several films simultaneously, apparently on a mission to explore and capture nature's hidden terrains.

Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith is an interpretative work that combines Smith's original film footage - preserved within the BFI National Archive - with a new contemporary score by tindersticks with Thomas Belhom and Christine Ott. It creates a hypnotic, alien yet familiar dreamscape that connects us to the sense of wonder Smith must have felt as he peered through his own lenses and saw these micro-worlds for the first time.

DVD (Black and White) / 2016 / 55 minutes

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By Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

WHAT HAPPENED TO HER is a forensic exploration of our cultural obsession with images of the dead woman on screen. Interspersing found footage from films and police procedural television shows and one actor's experience of playing the part of a corpse, the film offers a meditative critique on the trope of the dead female body.

The visual narrative of the genre, one reinforced through its intense and pervasive repetition, is revealed as a highly structured pageant. The experience of physical invasion and exploitation voiced by the actor pierce the fabric of the screened fantasy. The result is recurring and magnetic film cliche laid bare. Essential viewing for Pop Culture, Women's and Cinema Studies classes.

DVD (Color) / 2016 / 15 minutes

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Director: Peter Flynn

The Dying of the Light explores the history and craft of motion picture presentation through the lives and stories of the last generation of career projectionists. By turns humorous and melancholic, their candid reflections on life in the booth reveal a world that has largely gone unnoticed and is now at an end. The result is a loving tribute to the art and romance of the movies - and to the unseen people who brought the light to our screens.

DVD / 2015 / 94 minutes

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Director: Nurit Jacobs-Yinon

The story of Safaa Dabour, an observant Muslim woman from Nazareth, struggling to take charge of her own fate and freedom and to establish the first and only Arab cinematheque in Israel. She succeeds in taking charge of her own fate and freedom and established and run the cinematheque. A single woman in a man's world, she travels to bring Arab box-office hits from Arab states, and seeks against all odds, to create an island of culture for the society to which she belongs. This is a cinematic profile of a courageous woman whose path to freedom is interwoven with the battle for her own cinematheque.

DVD (Hebrew, Arabic, With English Subtitles) / 2015 / 52 minutes

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BEYOND ZERO: 1914-1918

By Bill Morrison
Music composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov and performed by Kronos Quartet

Given up as lost for generations, footage from World War I never before seen by modern audiences comes to thrilling new life in BEYOND ZERO: 1914-1918. Auteur director Bill Morrison scoured film archives for rare 35mm nitrate footage shot during the Great War. Now, viewers can see an actual glimpse of a war fought in fields, in trenches, and in the air emerges for the first time.

Through a veil of physical degradation, unstable chemical elements and the bleeding of original film dye, viewers can see soldiers performing training exercises, parades and troop movements. While some of the battle footage was re-enacted for cameras, some is documentary footage of the war itself. All the footage was originally shot on film at the time of the conflict.

A prismatic and cinematic a message in a bottle from a century ago and accompanied by a magnificent score by Aleksandra Vrebalov performed by the Kronos Quartet, BEYOND ZERO: 1914-1918 is a powerful record of wartime past. Out on the same fields with the soldiers 100 years ago, the film is itself both collaborator and survivor.

DVD (Color) / 2014 / 40 minutes

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Director: Ruth Walk

The life and art of David Perlov, who is considered to be the most important Israeli documentary filmmaker.

December 13, 2013 marked ten years to the death of artist, filmmaker and teacher David Perlov. In the film, Perlov's apartment on 4 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard in Tel Aviv is once again the studio that it was in his lifetime. Perlov lived in his apartment on the 14th floor for thirty years, filming, editing and screening films. The rooms remain untouched; the walls lined with his sketches, painting and still photos. Friends, students and family members visit the apartment in the film and together form a perspective of the unique character of Perlov – an immigrant from Brazil who became the father of modern Israeli cinema, an artist who widely influences generations of students. The film offers archive materials and rare documents from Sao Paulo and Paris which illuminate the relationship between painting, filmmaking and photography that filled Perlov's life.

DVD (Hebrew, Portuguese, English, French, With English, French Subtitles) / 2014 / 65 minutes

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By S. Louisa Wei

In GOLDEN GATE GIRLS author and professor S. Louisa Wei tells the story of filmmaker Esther Eng, the first woman to direct Chinese-language film in the US, and the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930's. A San Francisco native and open lesbian, her contribution to film history is sadly overlooked – her 11 feature films mostly lost. After the retirement of director Dorothy Arzner in 1943 and before Ida Lupino began directing in 1949, Eng was the only woman directing feature length films in the US.

Wei's documentary paints a fascinating picture of how Eng's career in filmmaking broke through gender and racial boundaries in Hollywood and Hong Kong, at a time when opportunities for Chinese women in the industry were few and far between. With a captivating archive of newly discovered images and interviews with those who knew her, Wei uncovers a rich chapter of film history that challenges both gender hierarchies and national narratives. Essential viewing for Cinema Studies and Asian American Studies.

DVD (Chinese, Color) / 2014 / 90 minutes

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The Thanhouser Company was a trail-blazing studio based in New Rochelle, New York. From 1910 to 1917 it released over 1,000 films that were seen by audiences around the globe.

This 53-minute documentary reconstructs the relatively unknown story of the studio and its founders, technicians, and stars as they entered the nascent motion picture industry to compete with Thomas Edison and the companies aligned with his Motion Pictures Patents Corporation (MPPC).

Ned Thanhouser, grandson of studio founders Edwin and Gertrude Thanhouser, narrates this compelling tale, recounting a saga of bold entrepreneurship, financial successes, cinematic innovations, tragic events, the launching of Hollywood careers, and the transition of the movie industry from the East Coast to the West and Hollywood.

DVD / 2014 / 53 minutes

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Director: Rob Kuhns

In 1968 a young college drop-out named George A. Romero directed "Night of the Living Dead," a low budget horror film that shocked the world, became an icon of the counterculture, and spawned a zombie industry worth billions of dollars that continues to this day.

Birth of the Living Dead shows how Romero gathered an unlikely team of Pittsburghers - policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives and a roller-rink owner - to shoot a revolutionary guerrilla style film that went on to become a cinematic landmark, offering a profound insight into how our society worked in a singular time in American history.

DVD / 2013 / 76 minutes

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Director: Tom Donahue

Casting By places the spotlight on one of filmmaking's unsung heroes - casting director Marion Dougherty - and takes us on a journey through 50 years of Hollywood history from an entirely new perspective. Relying of her exquisite taste and gut instincts, Dougherty helped usher in the 'New Hollywood' with movies like Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Bonnie and Clyde, and in the process launched the careers of iconic actors including James Dean, Robert Duvall, Warren Beatty, Christopher Plummer, Glenn Close, John Travolta, Jeff Bridges, Bette Midler and countless others. Breaking away from tradition studio typecasting, Dougherty started the first independent casting agency and quickly became a favorite for directors, producers, and studio chiefs. Over the next 35 years, Dougherty became an indispensable ally to some of the best filmmakers in Hollywood.

In Tom Donahue's entertaining and illuminated documentary, directors and actors including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Lane, Jon Voight, Bette Midler and John Travolta reveal insights into their early careers and share fond memories of Doughery, all interwoven with rarely seen clips as well as scenes from classic films The Sting, Goodfellas, Annie Hall, The Great Escape and West Side Story.

DVD / 2013 / 89 minutes

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By Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES traces the fascinating birth, evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman and introduces audiences to a dynamic group of fictional and real-life superheroines fighting for positive role models for girls, both on screen and off.

From the birth of the 1940s comic book heroine, Wonder Woman, to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society's anxieties about strong and healthy women. The film goes behind the scenes with actors Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) and Lindsay Wagner (the Bionic Woman), comic writers and artists, and real-life superheroines such as feminist icon Gloria Steinem, riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna, and others, who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre.

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2012 / 55 minutes

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An intriguing rarity for those seeking to study and understand a sub-genre of horror filmmaking, The Walking Dead Girls! is a behind the scenes look into zombie culture in the United States and the obsession with sexy female zombies. What is it about zombie bimbos, or "zimbies", that are starting to gain the world's interest? Why are zombies now in mainstream culture and seen in advertising from JCPenney to Sears?

With interviews with zombie master maker George Romero, cult filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman, scream queen Linnea Quigley and cult movie star Bruce Campbell.

Includes a rare look into the making of a zombie pinup calendar and behind the scenes of "Stripperland", The Walking Dead Girls! is a look into the zombie phenomenon created by Romero that is 40 years in the making.

DVD / 2011 / 90 minutes

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The Ultimate Cinema Taboo.

Explore the disturbing, pervasive urban legend of the "snuff" film, an alleged film where someone is purposely murdered on camera. This compelling, educational documentary features interviews with film professionals, FBI profilers and academics who all help examine the myths and evidence of snuff films, and its relationship to cult horror films, serial killers and pornography in our culture.

DVD / 2008 / 76 minutes

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