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Cinema Studies

Cinema Studies


PRISMS AND PORTRAITS: THE FILMS OF ROSINE MBAKAM is a collectable DVD set that contains four of her critically acclaimed, award-winning features as well as two previously unavailable shorts films. Rosine Mbakam's powerful and empathetic documentary films focus on the migrant experiences of women and the legacies of colonialism. Cameroonian-born and Belgium-based, she constructs films with a patient rigor devoted to giving the women she features space to tell their own stories.

Disc 1: The Two Faces of Bamileke Woman

Rosine Mbakam left Cameroon at 27 to live in Belgium. Seven years later-having studied film and married a European-she returns, accompanied by her son. Motivated by a desire to better understand her past and the place she grew up, Rosine is nonetheless surprised by the revelations her mother and other women make in startlingly intimate conversations.

THE TWO FACES OF A BAMILEKE WOMAN is a sharply observed, nuanced and powerful feature documentary debut that captures the relationship between a woman and her mother-and subtly expresses the dislocation of emigration.

Also includes two short films, YOU WILL BE MY ALLY and DOORS OF THE PAST.

Disc 2: Chez Jolie Coiffure

Sabine's hands move quickly and precisely as she tightly braids hair in her tiny salon. The sign outside offers African, European, or American hairstyles. More than a place for women to get their hair done, Jolie Coiffure serves as a community hub for West African women-many from Cameroon, like Sabine. Fueled by endless cans of soda and cups of McDonald's coffee, she recruits for a tontine-an investment scheme paying each member a yearly annuity, organizes accommodation for a pregnant woman who lacks immigration papers, and, in quieter, more introspective moments, tells her own harrowing journey to Belgium after working as a domestic under terrible conditions in Lebanon.

CHEZ JOLIE COIFFURE is a highly revealing documentary, capturing the day-to-day lives and concerns of immigrant West African women in a space they can call their own.

Disc 3: Delphine's Prayers

Delphine, who is only identified by her first name, is quick-witted, engaging, passionate, and intense. Born and raised in Cameroon, at 30, she has survived a series of personal catastrophes. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father did little to care for his children. She was raped at 13, became a mother soon after, and supported herself with sex work on the streets of Douala. Now, she lives with a Belgian husband three times her age and their children, estranged from much of her family. In DELPHINE'S PRAYERS, she frankly shares her experiences with director Rosine Mbakam over several interview sessions.

Like Mbakam's previous documentary, the acclaimed CHEZ JOLIE COIFFURE, DELPHINE'S PRAYERS is shot in a single room. Her films offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of women whose stories are rarely seen on camera.

Disc 4: Prism

Is the technology of photography and motion pictures inherently racist?

For PRISM, Belgian filmmaker An van. Dienderen invited Rosine Mbakam, from Cameroon, and Eleonore Yameogo from Burkina Faso, to work together on a film in which the differences in their skin color, and experiences as filmmakers, serve as points-of-departure to explore this provocative question. Invented and standardized with white skin in mind, "the aesthetics and emulsions weren't created for us," the film director and actor Sylvestre Amoussou says in PRISM. And that underlying issue remains, even with digital technology: such white-centricity has meant that photographic media assume and privilege whiteness. To tackle the issue of racism in Western filmmaking, PRISM takes what some see as simple technical problems, and while creating powerful counter-images and methods of working, explores their insidious personal, cultural, and historical ramifications.

4 DVDs (Cameroon Pidgin, With French, English Subtitles, Color) / 2022 / 349 minutes

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Director: Juliana Piccillo

Since the dawn of cinema, sex workers have served as muses to movie-makers. From white slavery pictures (The Girl Who Went Astray, from 1900), to iconic rom-coms (Pretty Woman) and indie hits (Tangerine), hookers, hustlers, call girls, street walkers and strippers have been staples of the silver screen. Cinematic sex workers are punchlines, cautionary tales or fantasy figures. They are brutalized, killed off, sometimes rescued and almost always represented as if no sex worker is in theater. Even in recent documentaries such as Born Into Brothels or Tricked, reality is distorted by filmmakers (almost always non-sex workers), who are determined to show trauma, violence and pathos rather than the resilience, successes, and thriving communities that are the norm for many sex workers.

The Celluloid Bordello brings sex workers to the theater. With equal parts historical overview, critique, and homage, this eye-opening film lets real life dommes, escorts, porn stars and hustlers tell you which films they love and which they hate, which get it right and which miss the mark, and, most importantly, how perpetuating stereotypes in media affects real peoples' lives.

DVD / 2021 / 86 minutes

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By Olivier Peyon

In March 2011, the largest tsunami in Japan's history triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Newly transferred to Tokyo from Hong Kong, French executive Alexandra (Karin Viard) finds herself in the middle of the confusion and panic of the crisis. While government officials scramble to assess the full extent of the damage, local media downplays the disaster.

While senior management flees back to France, Alexandra stays behind out of a sense of moral duty to her colleagues in the Tokyo office. However, as the crisis escalates and radioactive clouds threaten the city, Alexandra is increasingly torn between the demands of management and the desire to protect her colleagues and family.

TOKYO SHAKING is a complex exploration of the struggle between personal duty and corporate bureaucracy in the shadow of a modern environmental catastrophe.

DVD (French With English Subtitles, Color) / 2021 / 101 minutes

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By Alain Resnais

Five newly restored early short film masterpieces from legendary filmmaker Alain Resnais (1922-2014). Resnais would go on to make his mark in feature films, including the Oscar-nominated Hiroshima Mon Amour, but these early-career shorts demonstrate an already keenly developed eye. The films are a remarkable compendium of the stylistic elements found in his features, and represent an important contribution to the distinguished French documentary tradition.

PAUL GAUGUIN - PAUL GAUGUIN uses the artist's own writings and artwork to trace his creative journey. The film begins with Gauguin losing his job in finance-the catalyst for his commitment to paint every day-and continues through to his final days in Tahiti.

VAN GOGH - Winner of the 1950 Academy Awards Best Short Film, this boundary-pushing short brilliantly evokes the life of Vincent Van Gogh, using only his paintings as visuals.

GUERNICA - GUERNICA, about the city's horrifying bombing during the Spanish Civil War, features Picasso's paintings, drawings and sculptures. Co-directed with Robert Hessens.

ALL THE WORLD'S MEMORY (TOUTE LA MÉMOIRE DU MONDE) - ALL THE WORLD'S MEMORY pays homage to the National Library of France and takes us on an impressive and impressionistic tour. It received the Best Picture Award at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.

THE SONG OF STYRENE (LE CHANT DU STYRÈNE) - Alain Resnais carries out a poetic investigation into the origins of plastic. It is the perfect example of how to turn a commissioned industrial film into a lyrical, satirical film masterpiece.

DVD (French With English Subtitles, Color, Black and White) / 2020 / 80 minutes

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Directed by Terence McSweeney, George Lee

Using films about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples, BLOWBACK explores how movies shape our understanding of the wars that are fought in our name.

For a huge number of people around the globe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have become "America's story". Films like the Academy Award-winning The Hurt Locker (2009) and the commercially successful and culturally impactful American Sniper (2014) have made a substantial impact on how these wars have been shaped in the global cultural imaginary.

But what of films about these modern wars made outside of the United States? What of those narratives told by the Iraqis and Afghans themselves? Or of French, Turkish, German, Chinese, or Danish film-makers? How might these films contribute to a greater understanding of how the conflicts came to be viewed and remembered by cultures outside of "our own"?

Adopting a richly textured and dynamic approach, BLOWBACK: The 9/11 Wars in Global Film is an entertaining, educational and informative documentary that seeks to illuminate the potentialities and limits of national cinemas in the global age.

DVD / 2019 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adults) / 30 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 Florence Strauss

Pierre Braunberger, Anatole Dauman, Robert Dorfmann, les freres Hakim, Mag Bodard, Alain Poire, Pierre Cottrell, Albina du Boisrouvray, Jacques Perrin and many others... They always worked behind-the-scenes and were unknown to the general public. However, they produced films, including Breathless, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Belle de Jour, that were famous not only in France, but around the world.

Self-taught, passionate and willing to gamble, these men and women financed films at a time when there was neither support from the television industry nor specialized bank financing. They started with nothing and could either win it all or lose everything. Directed by Florence Strauss, the 8-part documentary series THE LAST TYCOONS highlights the men and women, who from 1945 to 1980, produced landmark films that influenced cinema for generations to come.

Episode 1 - The Romantic Ones
Casque d'Or (1952) / Robert and Raymond Hakim / dir. Jacques Becker
Beauty and the Beast (1946) / Andre Paulve / dir. Jean Cocteau
Fanfan la Tulipe (1952) / Alexandre Mnouchkine and Georges Dancigers / dir. Christian-Jaque
French Cancan (1955) / Henry Deutchmeister / dir. Jean Renoir

Episode 2 - The Tenacious Ones
Forbidden Games (1952) / Robert Dorfmann / dir. Rene Clement
A Story of Water (1961) / Pierre Braunberger / dir. Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut
Night and Fog (1956) / Anatole Daumann / dir. Alain Resnais

Episode 3 - The Audacious Ones
Breathless (1960) / Georges de Beauregard / dir. Jean-Luc Godard
And God Created Woman (1956) / Raoul Levy / dir. By Roger Vadim
The Sucker (1965) / Robert Dorfmann / dir. Gerard Oury

Episode 4 - The American Way
Belle de Jour (1967) / Robert and Raymond Hakim / dir. Luis Bunuel
The Sicilian Clan (1969) / Jacques-eric Strauss / dir. Henri Verneuil
Crooks in Clover (1963) / Alain Poire / dir. Georges Lautner

Episode 5 - The Lovers
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) / Mag Bodard / dir. Jacques Demy
Z (1969) / Jacques Perrin / dir. Costa-Gavras
That Man From Rio (1964) / Alexandre Mnouchkine and Georges Dancigers / dir. Philippe de Broca

Episode 6 - The Immortals
The Things of Life (1970) / Raymond Danon / dir. Claude Sautet
That Most Important Thing: Love (1975) / Albina du Boisrouvray / dir. Andrzej Zulawski
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie / Serge Silberman / dir. Luis Bunuel

Episode 7 - Censorship
Emmanuelle (1974) / Yves Rousset-Rouard / dir. Just Jaeckin
Going Places (1974) / Paul Claudon / dir. Bertrand Blier
The Mother and the Whore (1973) / Pierre Cottrell / dir. Jean Eustache

Episode 8 - The Magnificent Ones
La Grande Bouffe (1973) / Jean-Pierre Rassam / dir. Marco Ferreri
The Wing or the Thigh (1976) / Christian Fechner / dir. Claude Zidi
Tess (1979) / Claude Berri / dir. Roman Polanski

2 DVDs (French With English Subtitles, Color) / 2019 / 416 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 Loidz, 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 verite. 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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Director: Erik Nelson

In 2010 David Crowley, an Iraq veteran, aspiring filmmaker and charismatic up-and-coming voice in fringe politics, began production on his film Gray State. Set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal government, the film's crowd-funded trailer was enthusiastically received by the burgeoning online community of libertarians, Tea Party activists and members of the nascent alt-right.

In January 2015, Crowley was found dead with his family in their suburban Minnesota home. Their shocking deaths quickly become a cause celebre for conspiracy theorists who speculate that Crowley was assassinated by a shadowy government concerned about a film and filmmaker that was getting too close to the truth about their aims.

A Gray State combs through Crowley's archive of 13,000 photographs, hundreds of hours of home video, and exhaustive behind-the-scenes footage of Crowley's work in progress to reveal what happens when a paranoid view of the government turns inward - blurring the lines of what is real and what people want to believe.

DVD / 2017 / 93 minutes

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Directed by Jennifer Townsend

Explores the same women's and men's reactions to the groundbreaking film, "Thelma & Louise", 25 years ago and today.

Powerful, authentic, and timely, CATCHING SIGHT OF THELMA & LOUISE dives off the edge into the truth of women's experience in the world. It revisits the journey of Thelma & Louise through the lens of viewers who saw that iconic film in 1991 and shared intimate, personal, stories at that time. The same women and men were tracked down 25 years later. Are their responses different now? Has anything changed in the way women are treated?

Interview commentary mixes with clips from "Thelma & Louise" to reveal why this cinema classic continues to resonate with millions of viewers, the world over. Christopher McDonald, who played Thelma's husband, and Marco St. John, who played the truck driver, offer an insider's viewpoint.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adults) / 86 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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Directed by Phillip Gara

An investigation into how war games, worst-case scenarios, complex systems, and networked media produce the very crises they seek to model, predict and report.

As the Cold War ends, a professor goes in search of an America without an enemy. Armed with a Hi8 video camera and inspired by the detective work of Walter Benjamin, he heads deep into the inner circles of the defense, entertainment and media industries, where he discovers a worst-case future being built from war games, video games, and language games.

Some thirty years later, a group of student filmmakers find the videotapes in a filing cabinet, along with a stack of old newspaper clippings, audio interviews and photographs. With the help of friends from the Global Media Project, the filmmaker produces an experimental documentary that goes back to the future, where they find the original maps for a new world order. An unexpected warning is found on the outermost edges of the maps: "Beware of Zombies!"

The result is PROJECT Z, a film that updates another warning, issued by President Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell address, about the emergence of a "military-industrial complex" and the consequences should "public policy be captured by a scientific and technological elite".

Combining rare footage from inside the war machine with corrosive commentary by leading critics of global violence, injustice, and inequality, the film challenges the living to write their own future before the walking dead conjure the final global event.

DVD / 2015 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 74 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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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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Directed by Boston Phoenix critic, Gerald Peary

For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism is the first documentary to dramatize the rich saga of American movie reviewing.

For the Love of Movies offers an insider's view of the critics' profession, with commentary from America's best-regarded reviewers, Roger Ebert (The Chicago Sun-Times), A.O. Scott (The New York Times), Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly), and Kenneth Turan (The Los Angeles Times). We also hear from young, articulate, Internet voices, including Harry

Knowles (ainitcoolnews.com) and Karina Longworth (spout.com). Their stories are entertaining, humorous, and personal. Those who hear them may gain new respect for the film critic profession, knowing the faces and voices, and also the history.

From the raw beginnings of criticism before The Birth of a Nation to the incendiary Pauline Kael-Andrew Sarris debates of the 1960s and 70s to the battle today between youthful on-liners and the print establishment, this documentary illuminates the role that film criticism has played in the evolution of American film.

DVD / 2009 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 80 minutes

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