Since the mid-1990s, a number of films from international filmmakers have experimented with increasingly complicated narrative strategies-including such hits as Run, Lola, Run, 21 Grams, and Memento. This book sets those films and others in context with earlier works that tried new narrative approaches, including Stage Fright and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, to show how they reveal the limitations of most of our usual tools for analysing film. In light of that, Steffen Hven argues for the deployment of an 'embodied' reconfiguration of the cinematic experience, one that allows us to rethink such core constituents of narrative understanding as cognition, emotion, and affect.
Twenty years ago, noted film scholars Tom Gunning and André Gaudreault introduced the phrase “cinema of attractions” to describe the essential qualities of films made in the medium’s earliest days, those produced between 1895 and 1906. Now, The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded critically examines the term and its subsequent wide-ranging use in film studies.
The collection opens with a history of the term, tracing the collaboration between Gaudreault and Gunning, the genesis of the term in their attempts to explain the spectacular effects of motion that lay at the heart of early cinema, and the pair’s debts to Sergei Eisenstein and others. This reconstruction is followed by a look at applications of the term to more recent film productions, from the works of the Wachowski brothers to virtual reality and video games.
With essays by an impressive collection of international film scholars—and featuring contributions by Gunning and Gaudreault as well—The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded will be necessary reading for all scholars of early film and its continuing influence.
Making the case for the significance of experimental motion pictures
Undulating water patterns; designs etched or painted directly onto clear or black film leader; computer-generated, pulsating, multihued light tapestries—the visual images that often constitute experimental motion pictures are unlike anything found in either fictive narratives or documentary works. Thus, Direct Theory provides an historical and theoretical survey of this overlooked and misunderstood body of international films, videos, and digital productions that offers a strong case for the understanding of experimental motion pictures as a separate, major motion picture genre.
In a radical revision of film-theory that incorporates Ferdinand de Saussure's semiotic system, and adds to it historian Raymond Fielding’s technological determinism, Edward S. Small and Timothy W. Johnson argue that experimental moviemaking constitutes a special mode of theory that bypasses written and spoken words. By exploring the development of experimental motion pictures over nine decades, they trace the practice from its beginnings in the European avant-garde movement in the 1920s, through American underground productions, into international structuralist works that marked the experimental films of the 1970’s, and finally the digital experimental innovations of the twenty-first century.
To demonstrate that the aesthetic of experimental motion pictures is best understood separately from other major film genres such as fictive narrative and documentary, Small and Johnson highlight eight defining technical and structural characteristics of experimental productions, including the autonomy of the artist, economic independence, brevity, and the use of dreams, reveries, hallucinations, and other mental imagery. They also highlight a number of films, including Ralph Steiner’s 1929 H2Oand Bruce Conner’s 1958 A Movie, and provide a sampling of frames from them to demonstrate that the heightened reflexivity of these films transmit meaning through images rather than words.
A deft historical interweaving of experimental production and scholarly discourse, this thought-provoking work firmly establishes the importance of experimental motion pictures in the discipline of film studies (theory and history) and production.
Experimental film and ethnographic film have long been considered separate, autonomous practices on the margins of mainstream cinema. By exploring the interplay between the two forms, Catherine Russell throws new light on both the avant-garde and visual anthropology. Russell provides detailed analyses of more than thirty-five films and videos from the 1890s to the 1990s and discusses a wide range of film and videomakers, including Georges Méliès, Maya Deren, Peter Kubelka, Ray Birdwhistell, Jean Rouch, Su Friedrich, Bill Viola, Kidlat Tahimik, Margaret Mead, Tracey Moffatt, and Chantal Akerman. Arguing that video enables us to see film differently—not as a vanishing culture but as bodies inscripted in technology, Russell maps the slow fade from modernism to postmodern practices. Combining cultural critique with aesthetic analysis, she explores the dynamics of historical interruption, recovery, and reevaluation. As disciplinary boundaries dissolve, Russell contends, ethnography is a means of renewing the avant-gardism of “experimental” film, of mobilizing its play with language and form for historical ends. “Ethnography” likewise becomes an expansive term in which culture is represented from many different and fragmented perspectives. Original in both its choice of subject and its theoretical and methodological approaches, Experimental Ethnography will appeal to visual anthropologists, as well as film scholars interested in experimental and documentary practices.
Honorable mention, 2017 Best Monograph Award from the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS)
From Shortbus to Shame and from Oldboy to Irreversible, film festival premieres regularly make international headlines for their shockingly graphic depictions of sex and violence. Film critics and scholars alike often regard these movies as the work of visionary auteurs, hailing directors like Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier as heirs to a tradition of transgressive art. In this provocative new book, Mattias Frey offers a very different perspective on these films, exposing how they are also calculated products, designed to achieve global notoriety in a competitive marketplace.
Paying close attention to the discourses employed by film critics, distributors, and filmmakers themselves, Extreme Cinema examines the various tightropes that must be walked when selling transgressive art films to discerning audiences, distinguishing them from generic horror, pornography, and Hollywood product while simultaneously hyping their salacious content. Deftly tracing the links between the local and the global, Frey also shows how the directors and distributors of extreme art house fare from both Europe and East Asia have significant incentives to exaggerate the exotic elements that would differentiate them from Anglo-American product.
Extreme Cinema also includes original interviews with the programmers of several leading international film festivals and with niche distributors and exhibitors, giving readers a revealing look at how these institutions enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the “taboo-breakers” of art house cinema. Frey also demonstrates how these apparently transgressive films actually operate within a strict set of codes and conventions, carefully calibrated to perpetuate a media industry that fuels itself on provocation.
The Future of an Illusion was first published in 1989. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The Future of an Illusion documents the pivotal role Constance Penley has played in the development of feminist film theory. Penley analyzes the primary movements that have shaped the field: the conjunction of feminism, film theory, and psychoanalysis, and the inherent debates surrounding the politics of women and representation. These debates center on the position of women in the classical Hollywood narrative, the construction of the spectator's desire in pornography and eroticism, and the implicitly male bias in psychoanalytically oriented film theory. Essential to anyone studying the sexual policies of representation, The Future of an Illusion ranges from avant-garde films to video, popular cinema, television, literature, and critical and cultural theory.
Constance Penley is associate professor of English and film studies at the University of Rochester. A co-editor of the journal Camera Obscura,she is the editor of Feminism and Film Theory.
Godard and the Essay Film offers a history and analysis of the essay film, one of the most significant forms of intellectual filmmaking since the end of World War II. Warner incisively reconsiders the defining traits and legacies of this still-evolving genre through a groundbreaking examination of the vast and formidable oeuvre of Jean-Luc Godard.
The essay film has often been understood by scholars as an eccentric development within documentary, but Warner shows how an essayistic process of thinking can materialize just as potently within narrative fiction films, through self-critical investigations into the aesthetic, political, and philosophical resources of the medium. Studying examples by Godard and other directors, such as Orson Welles, Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, and Harun Farocki, Warner elaborates a fresh account of essayistic reflection that turns on the imaginative, constructive role of the viewer.
Through fine-grained analyses, this book contributes the most nuanced description yet of the relational interface between viewer and screen in the context of the essay film. Shedding new light on Godard’s work, from the 1960s to the 2010s, in film, television, video, and digital stereoscopy, Warner distills an understanding of essayistic cinema as a shared exercise of critical rumination and perceptual discovery.
Gilles Mouëllic Amsterdam University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PN1995.9.E96M6514 2013 | Dewey Decimal 791.43
This spirited volume explores the history and diversity of improvisation in the cinema, including works by Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, and Nobuhiro Suwa. Gilles Mouëllic examines improvisational practices that can be specifically attributed to the cinema and argues in favors of their powers as instigators of unprecedented forms of expression. Improvising Cinema reflects both on the permanence of attempting improvisation and the relationship between technology and aesthetics. Mouëllic concludes preservation becomes even more invaluable in the case of improvisation, as the creative act exists only within the brief time span of the performance.
Kurt Kren: Structural Films
Edited by Nicky Hamlyn, Simon Payne, and A. L. Rees Intellect Books, 2016 Library of Congress PN1998.3.K8734K87 2016 | Dewey Decimal 791.4375
Kurt Kren was a vital figure in Austrian avant-garde cinema of the postwar period. His structural films—often shot frame-by-frame following elaborately prescored charts and diagrams—have influenced filmmakers for decades, even as Kren himself remained a nomadic and obscure public figure. Kurt Kren, edited by Nicky Hamlyn, Simon Payne, and A. L. Rees, brings together interviews with Kren, film scores, and classic, out-of-print essays, alongside the reflections of contemporary academics and filmmakers, to add much-needed critical discussion of Kren’s legacy. Taken together, the collection challenges the canonical view of Kren that ignores his underground lineage and powerful, lyrical imagery.
For three decades, Paul Arthur has been a leading observer and critic as well as a direct participant in America’s avant-garde cinema. In A Line of Sight, he provides a sweeping new account of the extravagant energies of American experimental cinema since 1965.
Balancing close analysis of both major and lesser-known films with detailed examinations of their production, distribution, and exhibition, Arthur addresses the avant-garde’s cultural significance while offering a timely reconsideration of accepted critical categories and artistic options. Rather than treating American avant-garde cinema as a series of successive artistic breakthroughs, A Line of Sight emphasizes the importance of social and institutional networks, material exchanges, and historical disruptions and continuities. Throughout, Arthur pays close attention to themes and visual practices neglected or underrepresented in previous studies, scrutinizing portraiture as a vehicle for projecting dissident identities, highlighting the essay film and the contemporary city symphony, and assessing the contributions of regional and African American filmmaking to the avant-garde. He also explores thematic and formal questions that have been central to the avant-garde achievement: experimental film's relationship with mainstream narrative cinema and postwar American painting as well as the legacy of sixties’s counterculture; the uses and theoretical implications of found footage and the allegorizing of technology; and the schism between a poetic, expressive cinema and the antisubjective, rationalist bias of structural filmmaking.
Amid the current resurgence of experimental filmmakers and the emergence of a new audience for their work, A Line of Sight reaffirms the extraordinary breadth and diversity of the avant-garde tradition in America.
Film critic David Sterritt presents an interdisciplinary exploration of the Beat Generation, its intersections with main-stream and experimental film, and the interactions of all of these with American society and the culture of the 1950s. Sterritt balances the Beat countercultural goal of rebellion through both artistic creation and everyday behavior against the mainstream values of conformity and conservatism, growing worry over cold-war hostilities, and the "rat race" toward material success.
After an introductory overview of the Beat Generation, its history, its antecedents, and its influences, Sterritt shows the importance of "visual thinking" in the lives and works of major Beat authors, most notably Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. He turns to Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogic theory to portray the Beat writers-who were inspired by jazz and other liberating influences-as carnivalesque rebels against what they perceived as a rigid and stifling social order.
Showing the Beats as social critics, Sterritt looks at the work of 1950s photographers Robert Frank and William Klein; the attack against Beat culture in the pictures and prose of Life magazine; and the counterattack in Frank's film Pull My Daisy, featuring key Beat personalities. He further explores expressions of rebelliousness in film noir, the melodramas of director Douglas Sirk, and other Hollywood films.
Finally, Sterritt shows the changing attitudes toward the Beat sensibility in Beat-related Hollywood movies like A Bucket of Blood and The Beat Generation; television programs like Route 66 and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; nonstudio films like John Cassavetes's improvisational Shadows and Shirley Clarke's experimental The Connection; and radically avant-garde works by such doggedly independent screen artists as Stan Brakhage, Ron Rice, Bruce Connor, and Ken Jacobs, drawing connections between their achievements and the most subversive products of their Beat contemporaries.
One of the most important avant-garde movements of postwar Paris was Lettrism, which crucially built an interest in the relationship between writing and image into projects in poetry, painting, and especially cinema. Highly influential, the Lettrists served as a bridge of sorts between the earlier works of the Dadaists and Surrealists and the later Conceptual artists.
Off-Screen Cinema is the first monograph in English of the Lettrists. Offering a full portrait of the avant-garde scene of 1950s Paris, it focuses on the film works of key Lettrist figures like Gil J Wolman, Maurice Lemaître, François Dufrêne, and especially the movement's founder, Isidore Isou, a Romanian immigrant whose “discrepant editing” deliberately uncoupled image and sound. Through Cabañas's history, we see not only the full scope of the Lettrist project, but also its clear influence on Situationism, the French New Wave, the New Realists, as well as American filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage.
POINTS OF RESISTANCE
Lauren Rabinovitz University of Illinois Press, 2003 Library of Congress PN1995.9.E96R34 1991 | Dewey Decimal 791.43082
POINTS OF RESISTANCE
Lauren Rabinovitz University of Illinois Press, 2003 Library of Congress PN1995.9.E96R34 2003 | Dewey Decimal 791.4308209747
In detailing the relationship of three women filmmakers’ lives and films to the changing institutions of the post-World War II era, Lauren Rabinovitz has created the first feminist social history of the North American avant-garde cinema.
At a time when there were few women directors in commercial films, the postwar avant-garde movement offered an opportunity. Rabinovitz argues that avant-garde cinema, open to women because of its marginal status in the art world, included women as filmmakers, organizers, and critics.
Focusing on Maya Deren, Shirley Clarke, and Joyce Wieland, Rabinovitz illustrates how women used bold physical images to enhance their work and how each provided entrée to her subversive art while remaining culturally acceptable. She combines archival materials with her own interviews to show how the women’s labor and films, even their identities as women filmmakers, were produced, disseminated, and understood. With a new preface and an updated bibliography, Points of Resistance simultaneously demonstrates the avant-garde’s importance as an organizational network for women filmmakers and the processes by which women remained marginal figures within that network.
Avant-garde films are often dismissed as obscure or disconnected from the realities of social and political history. Jeffrey Skoller challenges this myth, arguing that avant-garde films more accurately display the complex interplay between past events and our experience of the present than conventional documentaries and historical films. Shadows, Specters, Shards examines a group of experimental films, including work by Eleanor Antin, Ernie Gehr, and Jean-Luc Godard, that take up historical events such as the Holocaust, Latin American independence struggles, and urban politics. Identifying a cinema of evocation rather than representation, these films call attention to the unrepresentable aspects of history that profoundly impact the experience of everyday life. Making use of the critical theories of Walter Benjamin and Gilles Deleuze, among others, Skoller analyzes various narrative strategies - allegory, sideshadowing, testimony, and multiple temporalities - that uncover competing perspectives and gaps in historical knowledge often ignored in conventional film. In his discussion of avant-garde film of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Skoller reveals how a nuanced understanding of the past is inextricably linked to the artistry of image making and storytelling.
The term “art cinema” has been applied to many cinematic projects, including the film d’art movement, the postwar avant-gardes, various Asian new waves, the New Hollywood, and American indie films, but until now no one has actually defined what “art cinema” is. Turning the traditional, highbrow notion of art cinema on its head, Theorizing Art Cinemas takes a flexible, inclusive approach that views art cinema as a predictable way of valuing movies as “art” movies—an activity that has occurred across film history and across film subcultures—rather than as a traditional genre in the sense of a distinct set of forms or a closed historical period or movement. David Andrews opens with a history of the art cinema “super-genre” from the early days of silent movies to the postwar European invasion that brought Italian Neorealism, the French New Wave, and the New German Cinema to the forefront and led to the development of auteur theory. He then discusses the mechanics of art cinema, from art houses, film festivals, and the academic discipline of film studies, to the audiences and distribution systems for art cinema as a whole. This wide-ranging approach allows Andrews to develop a theory that encompasses both the high and low ends of art cinema in all of its different aspects, including world cinema, avant-garde films, experimental films, and cult cinema. All of these art cinemas, according to Andrews, share an emphasis on quality, authorship, and anticommercialism, whether the film in question is film festival favorite or a midnight movie.
Explores how two language systems inform and cross-fertilize the author’s work
As the writer, director, producer, and cinematographer of almost all her 30 films, videos, and shorts, Abigail Child has been recognized as a major and influential practitioner of experimental cinema since the early 1970s. Hallmarks of her style are the appropriation and reassembly of found footage and fragments from disparate visual sources, ranging from industrial films and documentaries to home movies, vacation photography, and snippets of old B movies.
The resulting collages and montages are cinematic narratives that have been consistently praised for their beauty and sense of wonder and delight in the purely visual. At the same time, Child's films are noted for their incisive political commentary on issues such as gender and sexuality, class, voyeurism, poverty, and the subversive nature of propaganda.
In the essays of This Is Called Moving, Child draws on her long career as a practicing poet as well as a filmmaker to explore how these two language systems inform and cross-fertilize her work. For Child, poetry and film are both potent means of representation, and by examining the parallels between them—words and frames, lines and shots, stanzas and scenes—she discovers how the two art forms re-construct and re-present social meaning, both private and collective.
Proposes a revolutionary approach to the interpretation of art, film, and the digital.
In Touch, Laura U. Marks develops a critical approach more tactile than visual, an intensely physical and sensuous engagement with works of media art that enriches our understanding and experience of these works and of art itself.
These critical, theoretical, and personal essays serve as a guide to developments in nonmainstream media art during the past ten years-sexual representation debates, documentary ethics, the shift from analog to digital media, a new social obsession with smell. Marks takes up well-known artists like experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs and mysterious animators the Brothers Quay, and introduces groundbreaking, lesser-known film, video, and digital artists.
From this emerges a materialist theory-an embodied, erotic relationship to art and to the world. Marks's approach leads to an appreciation of the works' mortal bodies: film's volatile emulsion, video's fragile magnetic base, crash-prone Net art; it also offers a productive alternative to the popular understanding of digital media as "virtual" and immaterial. Weaving a continuous fabric from philosophy, fiction, science, dreams, and intimate experience, Touch opens a new world of art media to readers.
Laura U. Marks, associate professor of film studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, is a critic and curator of artists' independent media. She is the author of The Skin of the Film (2000).
Unbecoming Cinema explores the notion of cinema as a living, active agent, capable of unsettling and reconfiguring a person’s thoughts, senses, and ethics. Film, according to David H. Fleming, is a dynamic force, arming audiences with the ability to see and make a difference in the world. Drawing heavily on Deleuze’s philosophical insights, as well as those of Guattari and Badiou, the book critically examines unsettling and taboo footage, from suicide documentaries to art therapy films, from portrayals of mental health and autism to torture porn. In investigating the effect of film on the mind and body, Fleming’s shrewd analysis unites transgressive cinema with metaphysical concepts of the body and mind.
A PDF version of this book is available for free in open access via the OAPEN Library platform, www.oapen.org It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License and is part of Knowledge Unlatched.
A key figure in early avant-garde cinema, Walter Ruttmann was a pioneer of experimental animation and the creative force behind one of the silent era's most celebrated montage films, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. Yet even as he was making experimental films, Ruttmann had a day job. He worked regularly in advertising -and he would go on to make industrial films, medical films, and even Nazi propaganda films. Michael Cowan offers here the first study of Ruttmann in English, not only shedding light on his commercial, industrial, and propaganda work, but also rethinking his significance in light of recent transformations in film studies. Cowan brilliantly teases out the linkages between the avant-garde and industrial society in the early twentieth century, showing how Ruttmann's films incorporated and enacted strategies for managing the multiplicities of mass society.This book has won the Willy Haas Award 2014 for its outstanding contribution to the study of German cinema.
By the mid-1960s, New American poets and Underground filmmakers had established a vibrant community. Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Frank O’Hara joined Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, and Andy Warhol to hang out, make films, read poems, fight censorship, end racism, and shut down the Vietnam War. Their personal, political, and artistic collaborations led them to rethink the moving picture and the lyric, resulting in an extraordinary profusion of poetry/film hybrids.
Drawing on unpublished correspondences and personal interviews with key figures in the innovative poetry and film communities, Daniel Kane’s stunningly erudite and accessible work not only provides a fresh look at avant-garde poetry and film but also encourages readers to rethink the artistic scenes of the 1960s and today. We Saw the Light will reframe the very way we talk about how film influences poetry and force us to think anew about the radical ways in which art is created and in turn influences subsequent work.
Women and Experimental Filmmaking
Edited by Jean Petrolle and Virginia Wright Wexman University of Illinois Press, 2005 Library of Congress PN1995.9.E96W66 2005 | Dewey Decimal 791.433
Acting as a corrective to the skewed avant-garde history that neglects women, Women and Experimental Filmmaking gathers essays by some of the top scholars in cinema studies dealing with women experimental filmmakers. Tracking the topic across racial, economic, geographic, and even temporal boundaries, Jean Petrolle and Virginia Wexman's selections reflect the deep diversity of methodologies and research.
The introduction sets out by addressing the basic difficulties of both historiography and definition before providing a historical overview of how these particular filmmakers have helped shape moviemaking traditions. The essays explore the major theoretical controversies that have arisen around the work of groundbreaking women such as Leslie Thornton, Su Friedrich, Nina Menkes, and Faith Hubley. With the filmmakers re-presentations of women's subjectivity ranging across film, video, digital media, ethnography, animation, and collage, Women and Experimental Filmmaking represents the full spectrum of genres, techniques, and modes. Taken together, these essays comprise a sustained analysis of the conjunction of aesthetics and politics in the work of both pioneer and contemporary experimental women filmmakers.
Women’s Experimental Cinema provides lively introductions to the work of fifteen avant-garde women filmmakers, some of whom worked as early as the 1950s and many of whom are still working today. In each essay in this collection, a leading film scholar considers a single filmmaker, supplying biographical information, analyzing various influences on her work, examining the development of her corpus, and interpreting a significant number of individual films. The essays rescue the work of critically neglected but influential women filmmakers for teaching, further study, and, hopefully, restoration and preservation. Just as importantly, they enrich the understanding of feminism in cinema and expand the terrain of film history, particularly the history of the American avant-garde.
The contributors examine the work of Marie Menken, Joyce Wieland, Gunvor Nelson, Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Rubin, Amy Greenfield, Barbara Hammer, Chick Strand, Marjorie Keller, Leslie Thornton, Abigail Child, Peggy Ahwesh, Su Friedrich, and Cheryl Dunye. The essays highlight the diversity in these filmmakers’ forms and methods, covering topics such as how Menken used film as a way to rethink the transition from abstract expressionism to Pop Art in the 1950s and 1960s, how Rubin both objectified the body and investigated the filmic apparatus that enabled that objectification in her film Christmas on Earth (1963), and how Dunye uses film to explore her own identity as a black lesbian artist. At the same time, the essays reveal commonalities, including a tendency toward documentary rather than fiction and a commitment to nonhierarchical, collaborative production practices. The volume’s final essay focuses explicitly on teaching women’s experimental films, addressing logistical concerns (how to acquire the films and secure proper viewing spaces) and extending the range of the book by suggesting alternative films for classroom use.
Contributors. Paul Arthur, Robin Blaetz, Noël Carroll, Janet Cutler, Mary Ann Doane, Robert A. Haller, Chris Holmlund, Chuck Kleinhans, Scott MacDonald, Kathleen McHugh, Ara Osterweil, Maria Pramaggiore, Melissa Ragona, Kathryn Ramey, M. M. Serra, Maureen Turim, William C. Wees