Nuria Triana Toribio, University of Kent, UK: “Awards Culture: Spanish Cinema and the Rise of the Prize”
The Goya prizes, the Spanish Oscars, are the instruments by which the Academia guides Spanish cinema through what seems to some critics to be a narrow path, elevating certain types of filmmaking and ignoring others. In short, it is an institution for branding cinema and generating a particular type of Spanish film culture.
This keynote address is divided into two parts. First I will address how it befits national film institutions and professional lobbies to encourage consistent and non-contradictory (and yet diverse) national cinema discourses, particularly if these enable transnational distribution or if these images are useful in nation/community building ventures. Then I will focus on how we could question the purpose of using the same instruments of control and branding on behalf of other nations and territories. For this, I will engage with the Goya a la Mejor Película Iberoamericana category of the awards. Is this prize a declaration of possession? Is this a hangover of post-colonial sentiment? Is it a valid claim to exerting authority over Latin American film cultures in the field of cinema by the Academia? Or is it something else entirely?
I hope to inspire the conference participants to interrogate the awards culture in which cinema is immersed.
Janet Wasko, University of Oregon, USA: “Cinema and Money: The Hollywood Model”
From its beginnings, the US film industry developed as a capitalist enterprise. This paper will raise a number of questions about the influence of this model, including (but not limited to):
- What films have been produced (and not produced)?
- How has film production and reception been organized?
- Who has been involved in and benefited from film production/distribution?
- How have films been distributed and exhibited (nationally and globally)?
- How has the success of the Hollywood model influenced other film industries?
These difficult questions have been addressed by (some) film scholars and various critics over the years. However, a critical perspective has often been missing and a capitalist model has been assumed. This paper will argue that the critical study of political economy of film can provide a helpful lens through which to answer some of these questions.
Keywords: Hollywood, political economy, film industry, film history
PARTICIPANTS (in alphabetical order by author’s last name)
Dilara Bostan & Mesut Bostan, Marmara University, Turkey: “Postmodern Ethics in Cinema: Ethics of Contemporary Fairy Tale Adaptations in Hollywood”
Fairy tales are the favorite source of Hollywood scriptwriting. Recently number of these adaptations increased. It can be easily understood with respect to the logic culture industry. Fairy tales are intercultural and can be easily diffused to the different markets and accepted by diverse audience groups. The interesting thing about the new trend is that there is a postmodern turn in these movies apart from the classical storytelling. The editing is no more conventional and the stylistic tricks are obvious in these movies. Social conventions are also violated and now there are aimless and marginal characters. Cathartic plots are abandoned and cause and effect relationships are broken. There are now different identities and different kinds of representations. These new tendencies reveal new questions about ethics in cinema, identity and representation issues. For example, in classical narratives there are some ethical codes that enable the hegemony on societies. But in postmodern fairy tales the distinction of good and evil is blurred, the gender roles are changed, and identities are dissolved. In this sense the postmodernity is an ambiguous ethical condition. In “Maleficent” (2014) the story is told from the witches’ point of view. And the princess image which used to be a metaphor of purity and goodness doesn’t play such a role in the story. The new princesses can be a warrior, a hedonist or grudging as ordinary characters. On the other hand princes are no more heroes. Giants, dwarfs and beasts also can be good. In this study we can detect these kind of ethical changes in contemporary fairy tale adaptations in Hollywood. Semiotics will be our main theoretical framework. The discourse analysis will be also used in this study to decipher the new moral codes of these narratives.
Keywords: Visual Ethics, Film adaptations, and Postmodern Cinema.
Marcus Anthony Brock, Stony Brook University, USA: “Possibility Models & Heroes: Equalizing Some of Us, Sensationalizing the Sum of Us”
Ain’t cutting my hair ‘til the good Lord come
I ain’t open my eyes ‘til we all walk free
‘Til the color of our skin, it don’t mean a damn thing
I ain’t open my eyes, open ‘til we all walk free
-Joshua James, Coal War1
The images of eyes closed until we all walk free suggests the author is walking in darkness. That we are in darkness? Currently, ‘cultural malaise’ spans the world. The difference in our Audiovisualtopian society: We can actually access the macabre or joy quite easily. Thus, when Newsweek deems Ethiopia, ‘A Graveyard for Homosexuals,’ we look. According to Nicholas Mirzoeff, we now have the right to look. But do we?2
My discussion will begin with curated portraits, paintings, music/sound clips, and social media examples that allow myself and the attendees to think through current affairs and question whether there is any redemption for the represented, and underrepresented. I will also discuss the media’s roles in sensationalizing oppression. The utopia provides escapism for aspirational bodies to exist beyond antiquated paradigms, but antiquated paradigms often drive the media narrative. I am considering visual phenomena such as “thugs” in the media, Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover story, Thug Kitchen, and the “art of the selfie,” by then bridging Toni Morrison’s Paradise with surrealist painters, René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, and Salvador Dalí’s Le Sommeil. The world is on screen. Because of this, cultural transmission is occurring faster than ever before. Thus, if utopias are aspirational places, why does the hyper-availability of media imply that utopia is soon approaching?
As Toni Morrison states in a PBS interview, “All paradises, all utopias, are designed by who is not there, those who are not allowed in.”3
1 Joshua James. “Coal War.” Build Me This. Intelligent Noise, 2009
2 Baker, Katie. “A Graveyard for Homosexuals.” Newsweek. 12 Dec. 2013
3 Morrison, Toni. PBSNews Hour. 9 Mar. 1998.
Keywords: Race, Sexuality, Social Media, Media, Sensationalism, Afrofuturism
Christopher Chavez, University of Oregon, USA: “The New ‘Good Neighbor’s Policy’: Disney and the Cultivation of the Latin American Market”
At the onset of the World War II, Walt Disney and a team of artists and writers traveled throughout Latin America as part of a state-sponsored effort designed to foster good-will among strategically important nations including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba. While the tour was primarily a diplomatic mission, it was also a commercial effort designed to promote The Walt Disney Company and its films. Along the way, Disney appropriated local talent, promoted the company and ensured global distribution of their films. In the seventy-years since the end of the FDR’s Good Neighbor’s Policy, significant changes in technology, the marketplace and television practices have fundamentally altered the ways in which cultural production is distributed globally. At the same time, Disney has continued the process of strategically cultivating the Latin American market. Using Disney’s children television properties as my focal point, I examine the discursive mechanisms that enable the company to define, and therefore efficiently manage and control, its dominion. In doing so, I focus on the role of language in facilitating Disney’s attempts to create a unified Global Latino market that spans both the US and various nations throughout South America. While much has been written about Disney programs, I examine the industrial discourses and strategies that set the pre-conditions for that programming.
Key words: Television, Latin America, Political Economy, Disney, Globalism
Vanessa Ciccone, University of Oregon, USA: “Perception and Special Effects: An inquiry into effectiveness: CGI special effects vs. practical effects”
For centuries motion pictures have given filmmakers the ability to affect their audiences both visually and emotionally. In horror films, filmmakers use a variety of special effects to enhance the imagery of their films. These enhancements allow filmmakers to instill fear into their audiences. In the film An American Werewolf in London, make-up artist Rick Baker revolutionized the use of practical effects when transforming David Naughton’s character into a werewolf. Practical effects are special effects that are produced physically, without the aid of a computer. These effects include make-up, prosthetics, animatronics, lighting, set design, and in-camera effects. Technological advancements of new cinematic constructs have given filmmakers the ability to create new worlds that, in previous years, were unimaginable to create; these constructs paved the way for Computer Generated Images, or CGI. CGI effects are ones created by computers. In 1997 when An American Werewolf in Paris was released, director Anthony Waller utilized CGI special effects, instead of practical effects, when transforming various characters into werewolf’s. These transformation scenes were no met with as much praise as its predecessor. If we were to have a better understanding of how our brains ingest practical effects and CGI it would allow us to determine which one better conveys the emotion fear. By using Masahiro Mori’s “uncanny valley” this paper will demonstrate which type of special effect is more effective at relaying the emotional response of fear to its viewer: practical effects or CGI.
Key Words: CGI, Practical Effects, Technology, History, Perception
Mª Teresa González Mínguez, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain: “The Regency Period and Timeless Concerns in Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that I am a huge Jane Austen fan. Like many people, I see myself in Austen’s novels because I remain worried about the questions that interest her and because I admire her stingy critical view of the world and its inhabitants and her interest in distinctive ways of seeing. I reread Pride and Prejudice since I was a young girl. I love book adaptations such as Awakenings and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. I have watched the six-part miniseries of Pride and Prejudice produced by the BBC in 1995 several times. This TV series seems to have changed the image of Jane Austen into a celebrity, but it is Joe Wright’s 2005 Working Title film production the one which adds a more realistic tone to life in the Regency period.
My contention in this paper is twofold: first, to show what we gain from being faithful to Jane Austen and second, to demonstrate how Joe Wright refashions the novel and gives it a more timeless and universal appeal by exploring some of the rigidities of the Regency period such as dating or social control and by highlighting innovative views such as the focus on the body, the modern nineteenth century and Mary Wollstonecraft’s idea of marriage in a down to earth setting.
Keywords: Jane Austen, Joe Wright, Pride and Prejudice, realism, universal concerns
Brian Michael Goss, Saint Louis University-Madrid, Spain: “Tourists, Travellers, Vagabonds: An Auteur Analysis of Michael Winterbottom’s Road Movies”
Following brisk elaboration of the auteur theory, I argue that prolific, genre-diverse British director Michael Winterbottom’s road movies range from stylistically innovative and politically resonant to complacent and androgenic-aggrandizing. Heading off the dense traffic of road movie concepts and terminology, I emphasize “tourists”, “travellers” and “vagabonds”.
The tourist is identified with transient diversion to conventional specifications that lends itself to the commodification of experience. Like tourism, Winterbottom’s The Trip (2010) and The Trip to Italy (2014) present largely undemanding fare; while the films venture implicit criticism of masculine status competition, the idiom of comedy shades “overgrown adolescents” Steve and Rob as they act out middle-aged sexual adventurism. The Trip to Italy in particular exhibits little engagement with its setting beyond beautiful scenery (closely articulated to young Italian women, in a classic trope), alongside bourgeois food, hotels, and vehicles that shape the two men’s tourist trajectory. Road movies do not inevitably collapse into “radicalism”.
By contrast, the traveller is conceptualized as seeking genuinely transformational encounters in new environments. In Genova (2008), bereaved Joe and his daughters Kelly and Mary exit from snowy Chicago after wife/mother Marianne’s death in a car accident. More than migrating to a benign climate is in play as Joe makes the sideways admission that he is on a quest for discovery. Removed from the locale of the fatal accident, the family confronts the trauma that it had been suppressing in a transformative climax—even as the film is largely silent on the privileges that enable their extended travel to Europe.
Finally, the vagabond is conceptualized as the undisciplined subject, an agent of “chaos”, “wayward and erratic” for possessing neither a settled path nor definite destination. In this vein, In This World (2002) constitutes a stunning human document that fashions an innovative admixture of documented reality and fiction. Protagonist Jamal “plays” himself: an Afghan refugee from the Peshawar, Pakistan who sets out to London without papers to claim asylum. As Jamal makes his fraught journey—through stops and starts, improvisations, interactions with fixers, dispensing bribes as needed—push factors to emigrate and the contours of global classism are in clear focus.
These three forms of mobility are not mutually exclusive—and at least one of Winterbottom’s films presents shadings of the tourist, traveller, and vagabond in different moments (Everyday, 2012). Moreover, Winterbottom’s films are attentive to strict regulation and curtailment of movement as human rights issues (Code 46, 2003; Road to Guantanamo, 2006). Nevertheless, categorizing films is not an end in itself. Analysis of the films, with auteur theory and the road movie genre on board, teases out political postures that range from complacent to confrontational toward “the way things are”.
Keywords: Michael Winterbottom, Auteur Theory, Road Movies, Tourists, Travellers, Vagabonds
Mary Rachel Gould, Saint Louis University, USA: “Visions of Classrooms without Walls: Documentary Film and Democratizing Pedagogy”
The “classroom without walls” is a space where the university and community fluidly interact and intersect during the course of a semester. Prisons are not often thought of as community spaces or places with fluid boundaries. This paper represents the efforts to use experimental and documentary film production techniques to accomplish the objectives of the “classroom without wall” through a collaboration between students on a university campus and students in a prison. The course in Digital Storytelling brought together a group of university students and a group of currently incarcerated men to produce short-format films based upon collaborative pre- and post-production efforts. Drawing upon the concepts of praxis, dialogics and humanization this ethnographic account draws from the work of Paulo Freire and the challenge put forth to engage the other in intellectual ventures.
Adrián Gras-Velázquez, Swarthmore College, USA: “The representation of same-sex relationships in Spanish film and the case of Reinas’(2005): Celebrating Marriage?”
The concept of family has been contested as of late, and there exists a scarcity of information regarding same-sex families in Spain (see, for example, Pichardo Galán, 2011). Several contemporary Spanish films have put same-sex relationships and queer characters as the protagonists, but their representations don’t tend to challenge the prevailing status quo: that same-sex relationships are acceptable as long as they mirror their heterosexual counterparts.
This paper will analyze Reinas (dir. Manuel Gómez Pereira, 2005), the first Spanish film to put same-sex marriage at the center of its narrative, and how heteronormative ideologies are at the same time reinforced and questioned. I propose a discussion of the interrelationship between sexuality, the home, and same-sex families in view of the social, cultural, legal, and political changes that have occurred at both a national and international level over the past ten years.
This paper will examine notions of social space, sexual identity, and the family concept, and discuss the evolution of the representation of same-sex relationships in Spanish cinema. Finally, it will also posit the question as to whether it is in new media, rather than film, where audiences can find more contemporary representations of what it means to be queer in present-day Spain.
Keywords: marriage, same-sex relationships, queer studies, Spain, cinema
Begoña Gutiérrez, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain: “Intertextuality in Mad Men: traces of Hitchcock in the contemporary screen”
One of the most critically-acclaimed shows within the contemporary TV series boom, Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015) portrays the advertising world around Madison Avenue (New York) during the 1960s. This paper explores the formal parallelisms, continuities and discontinuities between the universe of Mad Men and the cinematographic works of Alfred Hitchcock, widely known as “The Master of Suspense”. Through textual analysis, it traces some of the intertextual relationships between different scenes of Mad Men’s first season and the following films by Hitchcock: Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959). I argue that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner draws on different aspects of these films such as the narrative and aesthetic construction of main characters, the articulation of film shots, and the presentation of interior and exterior scenography. This inspiration is particularly significant because, through its retrospective portrayal of the past, the series not only introduces the viewer in one of the key decades in U.S. history, but it also represents this period of time by appropriating and transforming key aspects of Hitchcock’s innovative cinematographic language. Overall, this analysis of intertextual traces in Mad Men illustrates how the identity of the contemporary screen scene is informed by consolidated narratives and strategies that contribute to the temporal and expressive interplay between cinema and television.
Keywords: Mad Men, Contemporary TV series, Intertextuality, Alfred Hitchcock
Javier Jurado, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain / Université Paris Ouest, France: “Prize policies and the image of the New Spain (1964-1976)”
Spanish cinema in the years of “Desarrollismo” was marked by several contradictions that reflected the difficult adaptation of the regime’s moral attitudes toward embracing a capitalist economy. Women’s rights, consumerism, tourism and fashion were some of the fields that, when represented on Spanish screens, reflected the frictions of the last two decades of the dictatorship.
In our paper, we would like to analyse how state policies on cinema dealt with these matters. In particular how prizes, that involved succulent economic incentives, were given to films that adapted to the official rhetoric of both modernisation and traditional values. Our approach will cast some light into the shadows of the “National transcendence” prize that was included in 1964’s law on cinematography development and has been largely ignored by researchers both in Spain and abroad.
The films selected by the government to represent the image of the country were mainly those that originated in the Official Film School, known as Nuevo Cine Español. However, there were also movies like Aborto criminal (Ignacio F. Iquino, 1973) and Experiencia prematrimonial (Pedro Masó, 1972) whose strong ideological message reflected the reaction to liberalism and the efficiency of partisan discourses regarding the distribution of allowances.
Keywords: Prize policies, “Desarrollismo”, Nuevo Cine Español, ideological cinema, censorship
Jaime López Díez, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain: “The Mother-child relationship in Bayona’s The Orphanage”
The film The Orphanage (El orfanato) by Juan Antonio García Bayona (2007) is one of the most successful horror/suspense Spanish movies. Along with REC (Balagueró and Plaza, 2007), which was released the same year, it took the baton of Amenabar’s The Others and set the course for the post-Filmax generation of Spanish filmmakers to achieve international acclaim. Family is its main motif, as it occurs in many other horror movies, according to Robin Wood (The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film, 1979). At the core of The Orphanage is the tragic relationship between a mother and her child. In this article we will analyze this relationship from a psychoanalytical point of view. We will focus on the motifs that mark it in the film, and their evolution. We will also refer to another film by Bayona, The Impossible, as well as to the episodes of the television series Penny Dreadful directed by him. In all of them, the mother-child relationship is also key to the story.
Keywords: film studies, psychoanalysis, mother-child relationship, horror movies, Spanish movies
Miren Manias-Muñoz, University of the Basque Country, Spain: “Promotion mechanisms for small cinemas: the case of Loreak (2014) within the San Sebastian Film Festival”
Due to the democratization of technology, it is easier than ever to make a film. Producers and audiences are now able to start the production of an audiovisual project, if a minimum of its funding is guaranteed. However, oversupply of content is also a fact and small cinemas are struggling for visibility.
Film festivals are an important showcase for these cinemas, since the majors do not leave much space at commercial theatres for independent cinema exhibitions. Basque-language cinema is an example of that. In addition to being a meeting point for cinema agents, film festivals play a strategic role in putting such cinemas on the world’s map.
Loreak (2014) was the first Basque language film competing in the San Sebastian Film Festival, in 2014. Curiously, it achieved the second Basque language’s best audience mark in Spain. So, this paper wants to use case analysis to look into film festivals as a promotional tool for small cinemas.
The methodology consists of in-depth interviews of the producer and directors of the film, before and one year after the festival took place. According to the preliminary results, apart from demonstrating that something is changing in Basque-language cinema, the positive effect of the festival’s selection of Loreak (2014) is already confirmed by the interviewees and the international awards it has achieved.
Keywords: Films Festivals; Small Cinemas; Film Promotion; Basque-language cinema; Audiovisual
Cameron McCarthy, University of Illinois at Urbana, USA: “Burnished Ornamentalism: Making Sense of History, Iconography and the Visual Cultural Practices of Postcolonial Elite Schools in Globalizing Circumstances”
This presentation probes deeply into the tangled of historicities that animate British-bequeathed elite schools now operating in new competitive transnational educational markets in selected post-developmental states. The scenarios of this competition are increasingly moving online in photo and video-sharing websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Flicker and in the websites that individual schools are creating to consecrate their school heritages. I examine closely the work that postcolonial elite schools in a nine-country international study are doing with their historical archives, preserved cultural objects, architecture, emblems, mottos and their school curricula as they martial these cultural resources at the crossroads of profound change precipitated by globalization and attendant neoliberal imperatives. This change is articulated across the whole gamut of global forces, connections, and aspirations. And, it is in relation to and through these dynamics that postcolonial elite schools must now position and reposition themselves—acting and intervening in and responding to new globalizing circumstances that often cut at right angles to the historical narratives and the very social organization of these educational institutions linked to England. Globalizing developments have precipitated efforts on the part of these schools to mobilize their rich heritages and pasts as a material resource and not simply as a matter of indelible and inviolate tradition. History, then, I maintain in this context, cannot be reduced to the realm of epiphenomena of securely linear school chronologies. Instead, drawing on Walter Benjamin, I look at the way in which postcolonial school histories are “active in the present” and the way in which schools in India, Barbados and Singapore are adroitly and selectively managing their school identities in the light of globalization. The results of these interventions are not guaranteed. They often run up against the revolution of rising expectations of school youngsters and their parents, the taste for global cultures and global futures indicative of the global ambitions of the young, and the pressures of alumni and other stakeholder interests which must be navigated.
Violeta Martínez Alcañiz, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain: “The Artist and the nostalgia for silent cinema”
More than one hundred years after its birth, cinema has reached a technological perfection that the primitive film industry could hardly imagine at the dawning of the twentieth century. Digital cameras, special effects or 3D technology immerse the audience in a fictional environment more vivid and close to our reality, while they are capable of building fantastic worlds that we could not know otherwise. Added to this is the current transmediality of films, where the commercialization of merchandising, video games or the creation of ad hoc web pages and social networking profiles allowed people to enlarge their experience.
In this context, one cannot help wondering why a film like The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011), which recovers the essence of silent cinema, was welcomed with a great reception by both critics and audience. Even when spectators are used to standardized codes and norms, the film was a success. We aim to examine the reasons of such a success and the possible existence of a nostalgia for the past. Nowadays, we give much importance to the quality of the image. This paper will open a forum for debate about whether voice is, after all, of great importance to understand a film.
Keywords: The Artist, silent cinema, digital, nostalgia, voice
Cristina Martínez-Carazo, University of California at Davis, USA: “Transnationality and Spanish Cinema: A Typology”
Although transnationality as a phenomenon is as old as film, the contemporary reflection on this topic and the plurality of approaches that converge on it have opened new lines of analysis to evaluate the impact that this reality exerts on the film industry. My intention in this study is to propose a typology that reflects the impact of transnationality in the specific case of Spanish film to explore the dynamics that control our cinematic production in the third millennium. I propose six segments to structure my approach to the Spanish film industry: 1- Production modes; 2- Transnational subjects: 3- Esthetic registers; 4- Themes; 5- Ethics and ideology; 6- Critical and moviegoer reception. Within this framework, I will explore the dialectics between the national essence of Spanish film and its transnationality, the impact of different financial models, the multidirectional movements of our actors and directors, esthetic influences, the ethics of the industry and the response of critics and viewers to a film industry that swings between preserving and erasing its identity markers.
Forum Mithani, University of London, UK: “‘Shining’ examples for the 21sst Century? The ‘Glorification’ of Unmarried Mothers in Japanese Visual Media”
The trope of the unmarried mother plays an important role in Japanese film and television, despite the fact that in reality, the extra-marital birth-rate in Japan is significantly lower than in other developed nations. This means unmarried mothers are actually overrepresented in the Japanese media. Recent surveys suggest negative perceptions of unmarried motherhood are persistent in Japanese society, which might lead one to assume that media representations of such women would also be negative. In fact, single mothers are often portrayed as idealised heroines in film and television. So why are such representations so popular with media produces and audiences alike? What messages can be read in such representations regarding gender and family? My paper hopes to shed light on this phenomenon and offer an insight into how these unlikely heroines might carry significant political and social implications in a country that is encouraging it’s women to ‘shine’ in the face of economic stagnation and demographic crisis.
Keywords: Japan, film, television, gender, unmarried mothers
Jan K. Olesen, Red Deer College, Canada: “Infocolonialism: New Media as Third Wave Colonialism”
Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility” has cast a long shadow over contemporary media studies. Benjamin argues that through mechanical reproduction, works of art lose their unique presence in time and space — their aura — but as a result of reproduction are able to reach a wider audience. In New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen suggests that digital technology introduces a “universal and limitless interconversion of data”. This limitless interconversion takes Benjamin’s theory a step further, effacing distinctions between producer and consumer while displacing temporality and materiality of artistic productions. This new interchangeability Hansen calls our “post-medium condition”, one that demands a new philosophy to understand the new interchangeability between producer and consumer, and how media interconversion transgresses traditional cultural and genre distinctions. This paper will investigate the politics of this post-medium age with reference to first nations art and identity politics in Canada. Drawing from Hansen’s analysis of new digital technology, this paper will examine how digital technology makes artistic productions malleable in a way that allows consumers to supplant producers of art, and how this malleability potentially constructs a third wave of colonialism, a techno-colonialism, that threatens to co-opt first nations peoples and artistic productions. The paper will examine specifically how digital technology and culture potentiality transfers control of indigenous art and identity to hegemonic culture, but also how even benevolent participation in first nations art is potentially corruptive.
Keywords: post medium, digital media, First Nations, identity politics, colonialism
Ruth Palmer, IE University, Spain: “‘Making the news’ and spoiled identity, then and now”
In a poignant scene from the 1981 Sydney Pollack film, Absence of Malice, a woman runs across her neighbors’ lawns at dawn, frantically picking up their newspapers so they cannot read a damaging article about her. While the point of the scene is to convey the futility of trying to contain a damaging news story at the time, a contemporary viewer is more likely struck by how very much more futile such an effort would be today. In this paper I juxtapose this scene with a more recent example of a private citizen becoming the subject of a stigmatizing news story—dentist Walter Palmer, now notorious as the slayer of Cecil the Lion—to highlight some of the key ways “making the news” in today’s digital environment differs from in the past.
The differences are many: while in the past most newspaper articles never made it to any form of screen, today many readers never touch newsprint. For people who become the subjects of news articles, digital publication and frictionless online circulation mean they must contend with potentially vast audiences, near-effortless commentary and feedback from readers, and—perhaps the most reputationally significant change of all—the online archiving, searchability, and retrieval of news stories pegged to their names. To help illustrate how these recent sociotechnological developments can exacerbate the stigmatizing effect of news articles, I apply Erving Goffman’s concept of spoiled identity, and draw on findings from interviews with over 80 people who were named in newspaper articles and newscasts in the United States.
Keywords: journalism subjects, online news, digital reputation, stigma, spoiled identity
Alicia Parras Parras, Universidad Compultense de Madrid, Spain: “Snapchat—or the vanishing media”
This lecture is about the big change in how we consume video and specially photography through the new social media apps. From analogic photography, that could be stored in two different ways -as photography itself or as negative, specially in archives- to this revolutionary new app that doesn’t store the previously shared information anymore because it is gone away once the user/follower check it. We are talking about Snapchat, the app that was born in 2010 as a class project, and then released in 2011, and nowadays there are more than 200 millions of users all over the world.
In this lecture, we will be mainly focused in the change of mentality of new generations on the massive consumption of images, how we can communicate through Snapchat (even documentary photographers), the change of photography aesthetic thanks to this app, and of course a glimpse into the evolution of photography in the last 10 years.
Keywords: Photography aesthetics, social media apps, documentary photography, media consumption, communication
Joan Pedro, Saint Louis University–Madrid, Spain: “Towards a Pluralist Epistemological Approach to the Study of New Media”
A contradiction can be observed between the rapid and continuous changes that the ongoing technological revolution is bringing about and the slower pace and soundness required by academic research. Society’s fascination with technological gadgets and its acritical, conspicuous consumption has its parallel in the hegemony of techno-centric, techno-determinist and techno-utopian scholarship, which views new media technologies as the engine of social organization and change. This reductionist approach can be counterweighted by an epistemological reflection of the possible theoretical and practical foundations of new media studies. Drawing on Johan Galtung’s proposal for the development of eclectic epistemologies, this paper attempts to combine humanistic, holistic and scientific epistemologies. Humanism allows scholarship to consider human agency as a key component in media uses and social change, but may lead to a view of an all-powerful free will. A holistic approach is thus needed to frame the human making of history within the totality and observe how people interact with the social system in which they are embedded. The analysis of the whole presents the risk of omitting the analysis of the different and specific parts of the system (for example, technologies). That is why scientific procedures of classification and division of reality are helpful, as well as the methods of empirical validation.
Keywords: New media studies, techno-centrism, epistemological pluralism, humanities, science, holism
Ramachandran Ponnan, Taylor’s University, Malaysia: “P. Ramlee: Asian Film Auteur and Persona”
The most versatile film star of the Golden Age of Malay cinema in the 50s and 60s was P. Ramlee, was a scriptwriter, comedian, actor, music composer, singer as well as director. The icon of Malay entertainment was even dubbed the “Charlie Chaplin of Asia”. Andrew Sarris outlined 3 premises of the auteur theory, the techniques, personal style and interior meaning. P. Ramlee as an auteur-director was involved in every aspect of film production, from acting to directing to soundtrack. His stylistic signature worked with group of actors and characters to evoke emerging themes, he also returned to familiar and recurring themes of family, romance and royalty. His Interior Meaning was to preserve the values of Malay and Islamic culture but at the same time he emphasized the diversity of ethnicity but with no attempt of raising any racial issue. However, why P. Ramlee was not popular beyond the region although he is such an auteur? Methodology: content analysis (official discourse, critical discourse), and focus group (audience discourse). As part of an on-going study on cinematographic semiotics in P. Ramlee’s films, a content analysis and focus group on three of his most memorable films, Penarek Becha (1955), Semerah Padi (1956) and Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961). Findings are presented as Recurring Iconography in three of P. Ramlee’s selected Films. In conclusion, P. Ramlee as an auteur was concerned with the state of Malays during his time. Most of his films in satire comedy genre pursued a storytelling style for the betterment of the Malay community in particular; projected the unity concept among the Malays, Chinese and Indians. That Shaw brother provided the launching pad to stardom, his popularity grew after his passing, the locals recognize his contributions to the industry and nation and began to appreciate his work, and next his films and music have become evergreen.
Keywords: Malaysian cinema, P.Ramlee, genre, auteur, semiotics
Pamela Rolfe, Saint Louis University—Madrid, Spain: “Spain’s Film Industry: Beyond Buzz Words”
Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro Amenabar, Penelope Cruz and English-language horror films. Until recently, the Spanish film industry reduced neatly into these buzz words for the U.S.-based movie executives. But as Spanish-language directors like Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron have gained international attention, Hollywood started to take more notice of Spain, which has long acted as the natural gateway between Latin America and Europe. A crop of internationally savvy film producers backed by the deep pockets of Spanish broadcasters has leveraged the triangulated relationship with Latin America and the U.S. to transform Spain into a player in its own right with production facilities, shooting locations and talent. So now we see animated feature film Atrapa la Bandera sporting state-of-the-art CGI that can go head to head with Pixar, Game of Thrones shooting parts of season five and season six in Spanish towns and Juan Antonio Bayona set to direct Brad Pitt in World War Z2 in 2017. Now, trending topics related to the Spanish audiovisual industry span hundreds of key words for the U.S. industry. The glamorous names that generally resonate with U.S. film executives are only the most visible layer of the intricate, international web that is now the Spanish film industry.
Bryan Sebok & Peter Christenson, Lewis & Clark College, USA: “Musicality in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema”
“Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.”
“Music and film are parallel experiences: they are linear, they are narrative.”
Separated by time, industry, style, and approach, two filmmakers grapple with the appropriate metaphor to explicate the dynamism of the image-sound interface. The incongruity represented in these quotations, illustrated by Bergman’s desire to link music and film to dream logic, and Haynes’ desire to contain music in the prescribed linearity of narrative progression reveal how historical practice and context may determine approach. Certainly, historical convention, technology, scale of production (resource allocation), and prevailing trends influence filmmakers’ use of music in cinema. But music in cinema is also functional, atmospheric, idiosyncratic, highly personal as well as driven by industrial realities like marketing, sound track distribution, and the star system surrounding particular musical composers. Hollywood films engage music differently at various points in history; the orchestral film score has gone in and out of favor as the dominant mode of cinematic musicality. The popular music track has similarly ebbed and flowed across time, with periods of expressive engagement between the popular film and the popular sound track.
So, what is going on with music in contemporary Hollywood? How do comic book franchise films design musical tracks to accompany wordless spectacle? How does music differ between the cinematic and the extra-cinematic text? Between “awards season” films and the summer blockbuster? And what does the recent spike in music documentary (20 Feet From Stardom, Muscle Shoals, et. al) reveal about the desire for musicality in contemporary cinema? This presentation draws upon the expertise of esteemed popular music scholar Peter Christenson and film historian Bryan Sebok to assess the state of musicality in cinema today through a representative sample of films and their accompanying musical elements.
Keywords: music, score, audiovisual, style, genre, Hollywood
Carmen Spanò, University of Auckland in Media, New Zealand: “Emerging dynamics in audiences’ mobile consumption of trans-media products: the cases Game of Thrones and Mad Men as a comparative study between Italy and New Zealand”
In the current multi-modal environment rich in on-demand content, audiences operate as active users of media content by exercising control over their viewing schedules, and by integrating media texts into their lives according to new patterns of consumption.
My analysis investigates this new form of agency possessed by the audience with reference to two television texts: Game of Thrones and Mad Men. The two popular American TV shows are ‘typical’ products of the convergence era (Jenkins, 2006), which is characterized by trans-media storytelling. Audiences’ freedom in the modes of consumption, however, is limited by the control that media corporations still exert on the circulation of media texts; this ‘struggle’ for media content management becomes central for the understanding of the changes in the televison text and in audiences’ behaviours.
My research is structured as a comparative study between two countries: Italy and New Zealand. Comparative research has been applied by scholars as a valid way to investigate audience practices. However, there is still a dearth of international, cross-cultural comparisons. In selecting and comparing two nations that are different from the dominant media market (the US), my study aims to show that audiences’ behaviors are specific to the culture and society to which they belong. The methodology employed for the data collection is the focus group, which allows for a rich understanding of individuals’ attitudes and habits in consuming trans-media products and of the relational and social dynamics that define them.
Keywords: Trans-media Storytelling, Media Convergence, Fan Practices, Cross-cultural Research
Rosana Vivar, University of Granada, Spain: “Cinephilia takes the streets: a cinephile’s uprising at Gijón International Film Festival/FICXixón”
The focus of this paper is a medium-sized festival that has had an essential role in determining the character of cinephilia in Spain: Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijón/FICXixón, located in the northern seaside town. Since José Luis Cienfuegos took command of the festival in 1995, it has been generally known among regular attendees and cinephiles throughout Spain for its controversial and cutting-edge film programme as well as for hosting challenging directors such as Aki Kaurismaki, Harmoniy Korine, Hong Sang-soo or Pawel Pawlikowski. Additionally, the festival has been a focal point for indie music enthusiasts, attracted by the event’s live music concerts and parties running parallel to the screenings. This paper focuses on the events occurred in November 2011 when festival regulars held protests against the city council’s out-of-the-blue decision to dismiss Cienfuegos. Taking the media turmoil and boycott that followed as a point of departure, I want to use FICXixón as an example of how film festivals can contribute to define cinephilia as a means for citizens to participate in civic life and take a stance on public affairs. Given Cienfuegos replacement and the subsequent changes to the programme brought about a more locally focused agenda and a “safer”, less-changeling film programme, I will argue that audiences have had to resort to other emotional discourses such as place and pride in the local community in order to make their cinephile identity fit in with the new situation. Since survival has been the main concern of many Spanish festivals after their problematic proliferation in the 2000s (Mesonero-Burgos, 2008) and the so-called “end of the festivals era” (Triana-Toribio, 2011), this paper examines the role of FICXIxón in creating an enduring community of cinephiles through an ambitious ideological agenda that combines two main festival pillars: a long-term scheme for educating the young audience, and a festive display around the city where regulars and visitors learn the aesthetic and ideological conventions specific to that cinephilia.
Keywords: FICXixón, Spanish film festivals, citizen audience, festivity, cinephilia
Thomas Wiedemann, University of Munich, Germany: “Movie Directors in Germany: Structure and Logic of a Heteronomous Field of Cultural Production”
The paper explores the logic of the field of movie directors in Germany and reveals that German cinema is far away from being an art for art’s sake, but has a strong political and social dimension.
In the past decade, German film has experienced a revival, which easily makes us believe in the potential of movies to initialize socialization processes and to form part of society’s cultural identity. Certainly, these cultural products have an economic value, too. They are the outcome of a diversified working process and sponsored by public institutions like no other mass medium. Thus, film policy measures are also supposed to influence the movie directors’ practice of constructing social reality. In this spirit, throwing a light on their work contributes to analyze the dynamics of visual communication and the production culture of fictional entertainment.
The study refers to Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology and considers the practice of movie directors as an interaction of habitus, capital and the configuration of the field. Major sources are 20 expert interviews with German directors from both small-scale and large-scale production.
The findings show that the German field of movie making is highly professionalized. At the same time, it is shaped by economic unsteadiness and demands a big portion of idealism. The directors consider themselves as artists affecting public agenda. However, their practice does not only require considerable network resources, but also reflects the film boards’ parameters of profitable casts as well as the exploitation partners’ requests for TV appropriate settings and genres.
Key words: German Film, Movie Directors, Production Culture, Film Policy, Field Theory
Precious V. Yamaguchi, Southern Oregon University, USA: “‘Walt Disney Picture Presents…’: An In-Depth Interview with the Voice of Disney Trailers”
At some moment in most of our lives we have heard the phrase “Walt Disney Pictures presents….” We may have heard this familiar phrase and voice in the movie theaters or on a DVD right before we were going to watch a feature film. For several decades, Mark Elliott, the voice of Disney trailers entered into our homes and cinemas to inform audiences of the latest Disney films coming to “a theater near you” or on DVD. Unlike the baritone voiceover actors who were commonly heard in film trailers throughout the 1980s thru the early 2000s, Mark Elliot had a uniquely higher voice, notifying audiences of the release of the VHS Bambi promotional trailer or alerting millions of enthusiastic Disney fans from all over the world about the Lion King film. Mark Elliot’s voice invited people to engage in exciting new films, DVDS, and videos for Disney, one of the world’s largest media companies. This qualitative research focuses on the history and culture of the man and the voice behind Disney’s trailers and his journey from being a radio DJ in Iowa to being one of the most heard voices on film trailers. This in-depth interview also reveals the motivation Disney had in selecting a more “friendly” male voice with a higher tone as opposed to a lower baritone male voice commonly heard in film trailers and the changes Mark Elliot experienced in the voiceover entertainment industry as individuals began to create home studios and diverse voices and identities emerged in media.
Key Words: Voiceover, Audio, Technology, Disney, Film
Yingfan Zhang, Suffolk Community College, USA: “The Change of Figure and Ground on the Media Landscape”
The figure and ground theory in perception is commonly known to explore the relationship between what draws our attention in a presented image. Adapting this theory to the media landscape of different electronic mass media, this study compares the relationship between online communication with TV broadcasting in the case study of major social movements such as Occupy Wall Street and People’s Climate March. The case study shows the interplay of online communication and TV news broadcasting in terms of the change of figure and ground on the media landscape. Usually when an event gets enough “vibe” on the Internet, it also gets the news “worthiness” on the primetime TV. At the same time TV broadcasting can downplay or ignore a mass event to protect its own interests, especially ideological interests. The study then continues to differentiate cyber gathering from e-participation in social movements.
E-participation builds its own speech community while cyber gathering can be massive but does not create its own communal identity. And finally the speech community with its own linguistic identity has provided a good perspective to review and develop the cultivation theory which was developed from the study of TV but now can be applied to the study of online communication.
Key Words: figure and ground on media landscape, cyber gathering, e-participation, speech community, and cultivation theory