no. 20 | Spring 2013

The Geopolitics of Cinema
and the Study of Film

Edited by / Sous la direction de Tim Bergfelder, Vinzenz Hediger, Francesco Pitassio

CC20


CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES

ABSTRACTS | CONTRIBUTORS / COLLABORATEURS

  • Preface
    Tim Bergfelder
  • Is cinema contagious? Transnationalism and the case of Korea
    Dudley Andrew
  • Traveling styles: or the challenge of approaching commercial Hindi cinema as world cinema
    Alexandra Schneider
  • De-locating “Independence:” the discourse on Southeast Asian Indipendent Cinema and its trajectories
    Natalie Boehler
  • Transnational subjects in a multiple Europe: Auf der anderen Seite and Almanya: Wilkommen in Deutschland
    Ilaria De Pascalis
  • Peripheral realism: the regional and transnational dynamic of contemporary Brazilian cinema
    Angela Prysthon
  • Moving picture and people across the U.S.-Mexico Border: the critical reception of Sin nombre and The three burials of Melquiades Estrada
    Valerio Coladonato
  • Concept-cognitive mapping: third cinema as cartography of Global Capitalism
    Jakob Nilsson
  • The rhetoric and aesthetics of world cinema: film studies as a place for the “Persistence of Geography” in contemporary cinema
    Giorgio Avezzù
  • Luckàcs, précurseur d’une esthétique géopolitique? Le concept de totalité au service du cinéma postcolonial
    Delphine Wehrli

NEW STUDIES

  • Extended cinema: the performative power of cinema in Installation practices
    Cosetta G. Saba
  • The Cinematic Performance of the Real: Aesthetics, New Realism and Cinema
    Luca Taddio

PROJECTS & ABSTRACTS

REVIEWS / COMPTES-RENDUS


ABSTRACTS |  CONTRIBUTORS / COLLABORATEURS | CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES

Is cinema contagious? Transnationalism and the case of Korea
Dudley Andrew

Overused and under-theorized, the term ‘transnational’ remains crucial for any dynamic examination of problems and processes in World Cinema.  It sits between local context and global context.  While national and international approaches have the advantage of clear demarcations, they do not respond to the unofficial life that cinema lives transnationally.  Like other bottom-up phenomena (fashion, religion, even disease), films do not obey national boundaries.  In this regard the position of Korea is anomalous, for here a national policy put into effect in 1995, aims directly at transnational results.  This article looks briefly at pre-1995 Korean films and then at those that have come since, in order to gauge the extent to which a national policy can promote a transnational consequence (different from mere export).

Traveling styles: or the challenge of approaching commercial Hindi cinema as world cinema
Alexandra Schneider

This article proposes a contribution to a methodological and theoretical discussion in contemporary film studies: how to study and teach cinema cultures in the age of globalization? In a first step, the approach to World Literature proposed by literary scholar Franco Moretti is re-visited and discussed in terms of its productivity and limitations. The article then asks how cinematic traditions can be understood in a comparative perspective as the result of processes of mutual exchange, circulation and friction beyond the confines of a paradigm of national cinema, and along pathways of circulation not necessarily shaped and controlled by the supposedly inevitable forces of Western capitalism. Commercial Hindi cinema is used as a case study – the article in particular discusses the temporal-spatial constellation of Pakeezah (Pure One, Kamal Amrohi, India 1972).

De-locating “Independence:” the discourse on Southeast Asian Indipendent Cinema and its trajectories
Natalie Boehler

This essay examines the ways Southeast Asian Independent Cinema can be located – or, perhaps, de-located –, departing from traditional concepts of film studies, by examining the discourse on this cinematic movement as it is shaped by local and foreign voices. The paper focuses on the nexus of independence, political involvement and regionalism and asks how these meanings are negotiated in their transfer from various previous concepts of cinematic independence and alternativeness into the local context. As Southeast Asian Independent Cinema challenges conventional notions of film studies (the frame of national cinemas; the binary system of Hollywood vs. World Cinema; and the pre-digital cinematic apparatus), it presents an opportunity to rethink and expand traditional concepts and the underlying epistemologies in an innovative, non-Eurocentric way.

Transnational subjects in a multiple Europe: Auf der anderen Seite and Almanya: Wilkommen in Deutschland
Ilaria De Pascalis

The aim of the article is to address the different production strategies and formal solutions proposed by two European films by German-Turkish directors, Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven, Fatih Akin, 2007), and Almanya: Willkommen in Deutschland (Almanya: Welcome to Germany, Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli, 2011). The article will analyze the role of the spatial configurations and the temporal fragmentations in the representation of cultural conflicts and problematic identities. Both narratives address migration and border crossing issues, exploring the contemporary relations between (neutral) Germany and (exotic) Turkey. However, the approaches of the two films to these issues are very different, also because of the context of production and distribution. The analysis of these films will therefore be conducted in relation to the European cinematographic market, spatial-temporal configurations, and border thinking. It will be shown how European cinema responds to deep changes on imaginary, economic, and social levels, representing geopolitical mutations through narrative, formal, and productive choices.

Peripheral realism: the regional and transnational dynamic of contemporary Brazilian cinema
Angela Prysthon

This article concerns the redefinition of realism from the perspective of its impact on contemporary Brazilian cinematography, commenting on and analyzing the stylistic strategies of filmmakers who are situated at the margins of the traditional centers of film production in Brazil. My focus will be on films from the Northeast, and even more specifically those produced in the state of Pernambuco from the late 2000s.  For instance, a brief overview of  the most recent production by directors such as Gabriel Mascaro, Marcelo Pedroso, Marcelo Lordello and especially  Kleber Mendonça Filho shows that this “realist turn” breaks with a naturalist and caricatured tradition of filmmaking in Pernambuco (as it is the case of the previous regional cycle in the state).  A more detailed analysis of Mendonça Filho’s Neighbouring Sounds (2012) will be helpful to demonstrate under what conditions this rupture occurred and how it is related with the emergence of a peripheral aesthetics of realism.

Moving picture and people across the U.S.-Mexico Border: the critical reception of Sin nombre and The three burials of Melquiades Estrada
Valerio Coladonato

The declining sovereignty of nation-states intensifies the symbolic functions performed by physical borders. The frontier between Mexico and the U.S. is one of these ideologically charged places: it plays a defining role in national identities and narratives, and contributes to their hybridization. Nevertheless, in films involving a partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, critical discourse is predominantly shaped by separate ‘national’ paradigms. The paper considers as case studies two films concerned with border narratives: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones, 2005) and Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga, 2009). Their critical reception is traced by examining reviews, articles and interviews both in the U.S. and in the Mexican press. The central premise of the two movies is, in fact, a journey towards the opposite side of the frontier (South-bound in the former, and North-bound in the latter). Concerns regarding the permeability of the national territory – which characterize contemporary surveillance culture – are filtered through the movies’ genres and their different mise-en-scène. Migration emerges as the primary geopolitical framework through which the films are interpreted: the emphasis lies on the economic dimension and/or the ‘national security’ issues; hence, the dynamics of cultural hybridization are significantly overlooked.

Concept-cognitive mapping: third cinema as cartography of Global Capitalism
Jakob Nilsson

This article returns to the experimental theory and practice of Third Cinema as developed in the late 1960s in parts of Latin America. It focuses on two of its aspects that have not been systematically researched: Third Cinema as conceptualizations and maps of global capitalism. In doing so this article takes up and reconfigures Fredric Jameson’s notion of “cognitive mapping” and introduce the theory concept-cognitive mapping. This latter theory aims to contribute new thoughts and perspectives to ongoing debates on aesthetic forms capable of a critical grasp of the mechanisms of advanced capitalism.

The rhetoric and aesthetics of world cinema: film studies as a place for the “Persistence of Geography” in contemporary cinema
Giorgio Avezzù

This article aims at considering the world cinema “perspective” in contemporary film studies as an approach that adopts a cartographical rhetoric and a worldist aesthetics. This reveals a nostalgia for the geographical discourse, which has many implications and can be even considered reactionary. Indeed, being the effect of a sort of osmosis between “cartographic cinema” and “cartography of cinema,” world cinema promotes a worldview that is allegorical of the old modernist cinematic mission of making the whole world visible. By reinserting geography in contemporary film studies and in the filmic texts today, it is compensative of new anxieties about film referentiality and the difficult mappability of informal film distribution. On a broader level, a symptomatic reading of world cinema shows how its geographical/geopolitical gaze tries to overcome a crisis of authority and of representation, and the “crisis of the cartographic reason.”

Luckàcs, précurseur d’une esthétique géopolitique? Le concept de totalité au service du cinéma postcolonial
Delphine Wehrli

Can we still consider Lukács as a model of the “universalist” intellectual? and, in the geopolitical study of cinema, does the concept of totality have a relevant applicability? The matter of the legacy of Lukács’ method, especially in Jameson’s work, implies an insistent focus on his work, a re-reading and a survey of his fundamental elements, for it is precisely in what could be named his “method” that the unity of his project and his particular vision could recover their shape. Lukács’ writing on realism, Marxism and literary criticism, his contributions on the history of aesthetic, the prolegomena to a Marxist aesthetic and other parts of his work, would let us clarify some fundamental problems. This article questions a new proposition: the reviving of cinematographic studies by a non-dogmatic “come back” to the remaining lessons of Lukács and the possibility of their practice in the postcolonial studies.


CONTRIBUTORS / COLLABORATEURS | ABSTRACTS | CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES

Dudley Andrew is professor of Film and Comparative Literature at Yale.  His concern with French film history has expanded to an interest in issues involving world cinema.  He is, in addition, a student of French aesthetics in the 20th century, particularly as this involves cinema.  André Bazin remains a special focus of his research.

Giorgio Avezzù is a PhD student at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan. His research project is entitled Geography and Cinema. The Crisis and Persistence of Geography in Contemporary Cinema, and it aims at understanding how cinema comments on its primitive “geographical vocation” today, in the age of the “crisis of the cartographic reason.”

Natalie Boehler is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Cinema Studies of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Her research focuses on East and Southeast Asian Cinemas, the globalization of film and cultural theory, and World Cinema.

Valerio Coladonato is a PhD candidate in the Film Studies Program at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. His research focuses on masculinity and globalization in contemporary cinema. His publications in peer-reviewed journals include a survey of recent studies on masculinity in the cinema (in Imago. Studi di cinema e audiovisivi, n. 6), and a discussion of Miriam Hansen’s works on Walter Benjamin (in La valle dell’Eden, n. 27). He is a contributor to the magazine Alfabeta2

Ilaria A. De Pascalis obtained her PhD in Film Studies in 2009 at Roma Tre University (Italy), with a dissertation on Contemporary European Cinema and Globalization. She has published essays in international reviews and book chapters, and has been visiting professor at La Sapienza – University of Rome and at the University of Cassino. She also authored the volume Commedia nell’Italia contemporanea (Il Castoro, 2012).

Jakob Nilsson holds a PhD in Cinema studies from Stockholm University and teaches at Södertörn University. His doctoral thesis is titled The Untimely-Image: On Contours of the New in Political Film-Thinking (2012). He is the co-editor, together with Sven-Olov Wallenstein, of Foucault, Biopolitics, and Governmentality (2013) and has published articles in Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, SITE Magazine, and Rhizomes.

Angela Prysthon is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Communication at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, where she teaches Film Studies and Media Theory.  She is the author of Cosmopolitismos periféricos (Bagaço, 2002) and editor of  Ecos urbanos: a cidade e suas articulações midiáticas (Sulina, 2008), among other works. Her writings on film, media and literature have appeared in numerous books and journals, including   Cinema, Globalização e interculturalidade (Argos, 2010), Culture of the Cities (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), VIsualidades hoje  ( EDUFBA, 2013) Galaxia, La furia umana and Contracampo.

Cosetta G. Saba is associate professor at DAMS Cinema, Gorizia, University of Udine, she teaches “Theories and Techniques of Cinema and Television Languages” and “Dynamics of Comunicative Languages”. Her research is especially focused on the relationships between cinema, video, infographics and the Net. She is the author of several publications; among the others: Carmelo Bene (2005), Cinema Video Internet (2006), Lo sguardo che insegue (2006).

Alexandra Schneider is Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam where she teaches Film and Media Studies. She is a member of ASCA (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis) and ACGS (Amsterdam Centre of Globalisation Studies). Her current research focuses on cinema and Globalisation Studies – with a special focus on commercial Hindi Cinema. Another field of expertise is Media Archaeology where she works on home movies and issues of materiality. She is interested in historiographical, methodological and epistemological questions. Her works has been published in Visual Anthropology, Film History, Projections, Cinéma & Ciemontage/av and Necsus.

Luca Taddio’s main interests are visual studies and theory of perception. He has been teaching Aesthetics at the University of Udine and Mind-Body problem and A.I. at the University of Trieste. He is director of several book series (among them: “Volti”, “Filosofie” and “Sx” for Mimesis, Milan-Udine). He wrote some philosophical short stories published in Spazi immaginali (2004). He is also author of Fenomenologia eretica (2011), L’affermazione dell’architettura (with Damiano Cantone, 2011), Global Revolution (2012) and I due misteri (2012).

Delphine Wehrli is currently a SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) PhD Student in History and Aesthetic of Cinema’s section in the University of Lausanne where she is doing a research on “The Battle For Realism: Italian Cinema Journals At The Heart Of The Political And Aesthetic Debates (1932-1960)”. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to cinematographic studies from early Neorealism to the 60s, and furthermore, through a systematic research in the specialized review of the period. She just published an article on “Bazin/Aristarco : une relation en montage alterné” in the french review 1895 (n° 67, pp. 32-63).

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