Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lucy Fischer on Abel Gance

Penn Cinema Studies Colloquium | Lucy Fischer
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 12:00pm
University of Pennsylvania
330 Fisher-Bennett Hall

Lucy Fischer
"Modernity, Machine, Movies, Mind: Abel Gance’s La Roue (1923)"

A discussion of French director Abel Gance‘s film La Roue (The Wheel / 1923), viewed as a pinnacle work of the silent cinema. Jean Cocteau agreed, stating: “There is the cinema before and after La Roue as there is painting before and after Picasso.” The film is a watershed modernist text because it makes innovative use of all the elements of cinematic discourse at this time—tinting, matting, the close-up, intertitles, but especially montage. Beyond the film’s innovative formal attributes, I will focus specifically on two issues. First is the film’s valorization of the machine (here, the railroad system) --an icon of modernity and a new subject of art (e.g. in Futurist painting and in photography). Secondly, I explore how La Roue, fashions various modes for presenting human consciousness—another concern of modernity in this era, as sparked by the writings of Freud and others.

Lucy Fischer is Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies as well as director of the Film Studies Program. She is the author of ten books: Jacques Tati (G.K. Hall, 1983), Shot/Countershot: Film Tradition and Women's Cinema (Princeton, 1989), Imitation of Life (Rutgers, 1991), Cinematernity: Film, Motherhood, Genre (Princeton University Press, 1996), Sunrise (British Film Institute, 1998), Designing Women: Art Deco, Cinema and the Female Form (Columbia University Press, 2003), Stars: The Film Reader (co-edited with Marcia Landy, Rutgers University Press, 2004), Teaching Film (coedited with Patrice Petro, forthcoming MLA, 2012) and Body Double: The Author Incarnate in the Cinema (forthcoming, Rutgers University Press, 2013).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two talks at Temple

I will be giving one of two talks this week at Temple's Humanities Center (home institution for the Cinema and Media Seminar):

Patricia Aufderheide
Film and Media Arts, American University
"Free Speech and Fair Use in the Academic Environment: Libraries, Scholarship, and Teaching"
Tuesday, April 10
4:00 pm

Chris Cagle
Film and Media Arts, Temple University
"When Hollywood Met Durkheim: Popularized Social Science and the Social Problem Film"
Thursday, April 12
12:30–1:50 pm,

Both talks to take place at the Center for Humanities at Temple Lounge, 12th floor Gladfelter Hall, main campus

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cathy Lee Crane on Poetic Biography

Sorry for the late notice, but I wanted to highlight a filmmaker discussion event this evening at International House.

The Films of Cathy Lee Crane: Poetic Biography: An Investigation of Words from Two Radical Polemicists

Co-presented by Temple Film Media Arts Department, School of Communication and Theater and The Bryn Mawr College Program in Film Studies.

Over the last decade, Cathy Lee Crane has committed herself to an ongoing experiment with the biographical film, cultivating a fictional form of biography that seeks to penetrate what late filmmaker Raul Ruiz described as the “subtle tissue of life”. Combining staged and archival material, Crane materially renders the spectral life of thought itself as a kind of poetry. These two films contend with the end of the lives of two radical polemicists from the 20th century whose social critiques were provoked into being by the political extremities of their times. Acknowledging that the past has an intimate relationship to the present, the films utililze the re-enactment as a function that seeks to make history a living presence. Through theatrical, or ritualized gesture, the present maintains its distance from the past while also evoking it.

Unoccupied Zone: The Impossible Life of Simone Weil
dir. Cathy Lee Crane, US, 2006, video, 45 mins, b/w

This portrait of French writer Simone Weil is not simply an account of her life, but rather the embodiment of her ideas. The “unoccupied zone” is therefore only marginally meant to refer to the southern part of France under Vichy. It is more importantly an existential labyrinth imaged by the film itself; a psychic space through which Weil passed while in exile in her own country from 1940-1941. Winner Best Narrative Film – University Film & Video Association Juried Screening (2006).

followed by
Pasolini’s Last Words
dir. Cathy Lee Crane, US, 2012, HD video, 60 mins, b/w and color

Known as one of Italy’s most important filmmakers, Pier Paolo Pasolini was first and foremost, one of its poets. This elegiac essay looks at Pasolini’s brutal murder in 1975 alongside the texts he published or left unfinished during the last year of his life.