Cinema 2

31.12.2011

The second issue of Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, which I co-edit with Patrícia Silveirinha Castello Branco and Susana Viegas, has been published today. The contents may be consulted, read, and downloaded here:

ARTICLES

“The Philosophy of Film and Film as Philosophy”, Tom McClelland (University of Sussex)

“Layering Images, Thwarting Fables: Deleuze, Rancière and the Allegories of Cinema”, Agustin Zarzosa (Purchase College, SUNY)

“The Twilight of the Index”, Temenuga Trifonova (York University)

“Semiotic Images”, Flore Chevaillier (Central State University)

“‘Biopolitics on Screen’: Aernout Mik’s Moving-Image Installations”, Gabriella Calchi-Novati (Trinity College Dublin)

“Para uma Teoria do Cliché”, Leonor Areal (New University of Lisbon /School of Fine Art and Design, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria)

“Técnicas Cinematográficas e Actos Mentais: ‘The Photoplay’ de Hugo Münsterberg”, Teresa Pedro (Berlin Institute of Technology/New University of Lisbon)

TRANSLATIONS

“Merleau-Ponty e o Pensamento do Cinema”, Mauro Carbone (Jean Moulin University - Lyon 3), trans. Débora Quaresma and Davide Scarso

INTERVIEWS

“Questions for Jacques Rancière Around His Book Les écart du cinéma” [ENG.]/“Questions à Jacques Rancière autour de son livre Les écart du cinéma” [FR.], by Susana Nascimento Duarte (New University of Lisbon)

CONFERENCE REPORTS

“Film-Philosophy Conference (Liverpool John Moores University, 6-8 July 2011)”, William Brown (University of Roehampton)

BOOK REVIEWS

cem mil cigarros: Os Filmes de Pedro Costa”, Iván Villarmea Álvarez (University of Zaragoza)

Magníficas Obsessões: João Bénard da Costa, um Programador de Cinema”, Paulo Cunha (University of Coimbra)

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Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image: 1

Au hasard Balthazar: Teologia e a Arte da Presença

12.12.2011


Au hasard Balthazar.

O número 14 da revista italiana Fata Morgana: Quadrimestrale di cinema e visioni dedicado à animalidade acabou de ser lançado. Um dos artigos é da minha autoria. Trata-se de uma análise de Au hasard Balthazar (Peregrinação Exemplar, 1966) e da arte de Robert Bresson, que descrevo como arte da presença, a partir da perspectiva teológica franciscana. Em italiano ficou “Au hasard Balthazar: teologia e arte della presenza”. O alinhamento desta edição pode ser consultado aqui.

Film noir, um Género Imaginado

07.12.2011

Foi ontem lançado e apresentado o volume 32 da Revista de História das Ideias, dirigida por Fernando Catroga e publicada pelo Instituto de História e Teoria das Ideias da FLUC, para o qual contribuí com o ensaio “Film noir, um Género Imaginado”. Sob o signo das artes, esta publicação reúne artigos que abordam as áreas cobertas pelo curso de Estudos Artísticos da Universidade de Coimbra: cinema, fotografia, música, e teatro. Inclui ainda um texto sobre dança e vários contributos sobre as muitas facetas da actividade artística.

A Cinema Inhabited by the Angel of History

06.12.2011


Paisà.

I participate in the fourth annual international conference organised by the Research Centre for Communication and Culture today. The centre is based at the School of Human Sciences of the Catholic University of Portugal. This year’s event is called (Post-)Conflict Cinema: Remembering Out-breaks and In-tensions and includes the Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz and Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam/Yale University) as keynote speakers. Further information here.

My paper is called “A Cinema Inhabited by the Angel of History: On Rossellini’s Paisà”:

In her poetry book, The Angel of History, Carolyn Forché shares a vision of the poet’s work as resembling that of the angel of history. This figure is presented in Walter Benjamin’s essay “On the Concept of History”. Inspired by Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus (1920), Benjamin talks about this angel as a contemplative creature whose face is turned toward the past and whose back is turned to the future. Propelled into the future by progress, its eyes are fixed on the wreckage that piles in front of its feet.

Following Forché’s idea, this paper looks at the work of a filmmaker as resembling that of the angel that Benjamin describes. Robert Rossellini’s films, and his war trilogy in particular—Roma, città aperta (Rome Open City, 1945), Paisà (Paisan, 1946), Germania anno zero (Germany Year Zero, 1948)—are structured around ruins, the remains of what was (and that, because of its sheer presence, still is). These films look directly at the physical and mental disintegration that World War II has generated and, like Benjamin, they reject a set perspective on the past instead of a variable one. My focus will be on Paisà, a film in episodes whose structure intensifies the fragmentary feeling (or incompleteness) and the sense of indetermination (or openness) of the other two. As André Bazin suggests, by filming on location, within the debris and the life of devastated cities, this film turns history into something actual, present—a present made of many characters, languages, and stories. This is a cinema inhabited by a kind of angel of history, Rossellini, who sees cinema as an anthropological activity, as a way of understanding reality, and for whom the future cannot be quite anticipated, because it does not yet exist.

Notes for a Stylistic Analysis of Heroes

05.12.2011

I received an email from David Simmons (University of Northhampton) informing me that Investigating “Heroes”: Essays on Truth, Justice and Quality TV is now out in the USA. It will be available in the UK in January 2012. I have contributed with a chapter called “Super Style: Notes for a Stylistic Analysis”, which is based on a paper that I presented in 2009 at a conference on superheroes held at Yale University.

Cinema e Espaço Público

29.11.2011

Ontem participei num debate com António Costa (Clap Filmes), Paulo Fonseca (Fila K Cineclube), e Tiago Santos (Caminhos do Cinema Português) sobre cinema e espaço público no TAGV, em Coimbra. No texto de apresentação lia-se: “O gosto pelo cinema é um pretexto para uma conversa sobre a programação e exibição cinematográfica. Os públicos, a sua fidelização ou os novos públicos. Os filmes que se podem ver e os que gostaríamos de ver em Coimbra. Como ver e onde ver.” Escrevi estas linhas para iniciar a conversa pelo meu lado:

Diz muito bem o texto de apresentação: públicos em vez de público. Mesmo assim penso que preferia espectadores. O que alimenta a programação é o desejo de um novo espectador, seja este um membro da audiência habitual ou ocasional. Isto é, aquele ou aquela que permanece, que fixa os olhos no ecrã e apura os ouvidos, que dedica a sua atenção ao filme que corre à sua frente. A programação é, nesse sentido, um convite. Vem. Queremos mostrar-te isto. Achamos que vale a pena dispores parte do teu tempo para estares aqui. E este é um convite dirigido a uma pessoa, não a um consumidor de cultura. Quem consome é também consumido, exactamente no mesmo gesto. Por isso, é importante passar a ideia de que programar filmes não é programar espectadores. E isto é especialmente verdade em relação aos espectadores que regressam. A fidelidade deve ser vista como uma aventura que exige uma certa audácia.

Neste sentido, falar de espaço público é falar de um lugar de partilha. É claro que o cinema pode ser visto num espaço privado. Mas, como toda a arte, convida à partilha, à conversa, à diferença (e não à indiferença). No outro dia, um conhecido blogue português dedicado ao cinema e à música, lançava a pergunta: “Como consumir cultura em tempo de crise?” Volto à questão do consumo cultural. Consumir cultura remete para uma acção indiferente, sem verdadeiro interesse ou envolvimento, que se alimenta até ao fim do que consome e depois procura outra coisa para satisfazer o apetite. A fome fica intacta. Que fome é essa? É a de que as criações culturais nos marquem, deixem marca em nós, nos transformem, nos façam parar, nos atirem para fora do acto automático de procurar incessantemente outra e outra coisa, muitas vezes semelhantes. O espaço público leva-nos ao confronto com os outros e a ver esse tipo de resposta nos outros. Em todo o caso, e estou aqui para trazer o ponto de vista de um professor, aquilo que se deve incentivar é que os jovens (mas também os espectadores em geral) tenham esta disponibilidade para a singularidade de cada filme—isto é, para se dedicarem ao que olham e ouvem, para se maravilharem, para serem livres.

Tem sido essa ideia que dirige o ciclo Cinema às Segundas que mostra alguns filmes recentes, importantes, que não passaram em Coimbra. E no futuro teremos outras iniciativas com filmes mais antigos, ou até obras contemporâneas que não tenham sido exibidas em Portugal, nomeadamente como apoio às cadeiras de cinema do curso de Estudos Artísticos. Programas de filmes como estes têm uma função pedagógica, mas tal como os estudantes devem encontrar o seu caminho, também o essencial é que os filmes falem por eles próprios. Penso que, no essencial, a nossa tarefa é criar um espaço no qual o cinema possa falar e ser escutado, despertando a vontade das pessoas falarem e serem escutadas. A cultura é precisamente o que acontece quando há esse encontro e é, por isso, sempre um processo dialógico.

Research Seminars in Film and Television Aesthetics at Herts

21.11.2011


Encontros Cinematográficos 2011

15.11.2011

Time Networks

14.11.2011

I am one of the organisers of the next NECS conference, along with António Marques and Susana Viegas (both from the New University of Lisbon), that is taking place in Lisbon in 2012. The conference already has a web site and, of course, the NECS site has useful information, not only about the event, but also about the organisation. Here is the call for papers:

Time Networks: Screen Media and Memory
The NECS 2012 Conference
Lisbon, 21st-23th June 2012
hosted by the New University of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra

Submissions deadline: 31st January 2012
Please address all inquiries to conference@necs-initiative.org

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Elizabeth Cowie (University of Kent)
Andreas Fickers (Universiteit Maastricht)
Lúcia Nagib (University of Leeds)

Our memories of the 20th and the 21st centuries are informed by the images and sounds that have recorded and/or fictionalized events during this period of time. And yet, images and sounds are elements that are in, and not simply of, the world. They affect us and create new effects simultaneously, shaping, inviting, and proposing new ways of seeing, hearing and knowing.

From the first actualités through to contemporary 3D cinema and television, our technological and media culture, so spectral in nature, has begun to be disseminated so far and so wide, and has penetrated so deeply into our culture, that it has changed our experience of time.

In part this is because the globalized nature of electronic networks and the transnational nature of information exchange, which allows for an unparalleled flux of images and sounds. So widespread and fundamental have these changes been that it is urgent to reflect on the aesthetic, cultural, and political consequences of our media in general, not least in terms of how they shape our understanding of time and history.

Given the new regimes of time and space that our screen-saturated and media-dominated culture has encouraged, and perhaps even created, a simple question is therefore raised: how have the diverse media practices affected our individual and collective lives?

The 2012 NECS conference “Time Networks: Screen Media and Memory”, which will take place in Lisbon, aims to address this general question, and to tackle the different issues connected with time in relation to our screen-dominated media culture. In this way, the conference will draw upon and add to the rich and scholarly discussion of diverse media practices and their connection with the concepts of memory, history, and the temporalities of everyday life.

Topics may include, but will not be limited to, the following:

Screens and memory
• Cultural and economic development
• National cinematelevision
• Film festivals, industry and cultural identity
• Collective memory and History
• Arts and new media
• Genre theory

DIY, new media and social networks
• Internet and new media
• Internet and social networks
• Society and public sphere
• Popular uprising and new media
• Democracy and screen studies/new media
• Copyright
• Archive and the digital shift

Time, theory and philosophy
• Philosophy and cinema/television/new media
• Politics and aesthetics
• Pedagogy and literacy of media
• Philosophers’ legacy: Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, Bergson, Deleuze, Cavell…
• Phenomenology and psychology of time and memory

Scholars from all areas of cinema and media studies (radio, television, new media etc.), whether previously attached to NECS or new to the network, are invited to submit proposals for contributions.

We especially encourage pre-constituted panels in order to strengthen the thematic coherence of individual panels.

There are two ways of participating in the Lisbon conference: (1) by individually organizing a pre-constituted panel within an already existing network such as a NECS work group (see member section of the NECS website - www.necs.org) or a research project. The members of the NECS work groups are especially encouraged to put together a pre- constituted panel; (2) by proposing an open call paper outside a pre-constituted panel.

Please note that individuals may submit only one paper proposal, either to the open call or as a part of a pre-constituted panel.

Panels may consist of 3 to 4 speakers with a maximum of 20 minutes speaking time each. All presenters are obliged to provide us with a title, an abstract of max 150 words, 3-5 key bibliographical references, name, institutional affiliation and a short bio of the presenter.

Panel organizers are asked to submit panel proposals including a panel title, a short description (up to 100 words) of the panel and information on all the papers as listed above.

Please submit all proposals before January 31 2012 through the submission forms at this site. Notification will follow shortly thereafter (around February 29, 2012).

The conference language is English.

Participants will have to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. Travel information as well as a list of affordable hotels and other accommodations will be posted on this site and the NECS website in Spring of 2012.

Conference attendance is free, but valid NECS-membership is required to participate. Participants must register with NECS at www.necs-initiative.org and pay their fee by april 1st. For the terms of NECS membership, please also refer to the NECS website).

Founded in February of 2006, NECS, the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies, brings together scholars and researchers in the field of cinema, film and media studies with archivists and film and media professionals. A first NECS workshop was held in Berlin on the occasion of the network’s founding in 2006, followed by large international conferences in Vienna 2007, Budapest 2008, Lund 2009, Istanbul 2010, and London 2011. Over the last five years, NECS has attracted close to 1.000 members worldwide.

THE NECS CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
Melis Behlil, Sofia Bull, Aurore Fossard, Paulo Granja, Olof Hedling, Petr Szczepanik

THE NECS STEERING COMMITTEE
Melis Behlil, Jaap Kooijman, Tarja Laine, Trond Lundemo, Patricia Pisters, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Malin Wahlberg

THE LOCAL ORGANIZATION
António Marques, Sérgio Dias Branco, Susana Viegas, Irene Aparício, Patrícia Castello Branco, André Dias, Susana Nascimento Duarte, Paulo Granja, Liliana Navarra, Barbara Vallera

About the Art of Filmmaking

09.11.2011

Elitism

08.11.2011


Film socialisme.

In June 2010, Jean-Luc Godard presented Film socialisme (Socialism, 2010) in Paris. According to Elena’s description in her blog Woman with a Movie Camera:

An audience member, a man in his early 20s, takes the microphone and, in true French fashion, starts rambling on for five minutes, saying that he found the film somewhat hermetic and elitist–but “it is sometimes the job of the artist to do that.” And then he asks Godard, “Did you want to capture on film moral regression?”

Stung by the accusation of “elitism,” Godard snaps back: “If you look at a painting by Rembrandt, you don’t think it’s elitist. But he worked for the kings. Moliere worked for Louis XIV. Did they think of themselves as elitist? I was trying to affirm a point of view. You see the sea. What’s hermetic about the sea? Why do you look at the sea and think, ‘I don’t understand?’ Who’s the elitist here? I think it’s actually you, more than me.”

Godard’s straightforward remarks touch the heart of his cinema—exactly as when he says that cinema is not a reflection of reality, but the reality of that reflection. His films turn existing things (images, music, ideas, objects, landscapes, gestures, sentences) into elements of film, into things that can be experienced cinematically. Any reflection on them has to spring from, and to happen within, the realm of experience. That is why, as I have written elsewhere, the key word here is attention—or care.

The Lost Distance

07.11.2011


Figs. 1a-d: The Lost Weekend.

In the first scene of The Lost Weekend (1945), directed by Billy Wilder, Helen (Jane Wyman) arrives at Don’s (Ray Milland) apartment. He seems to be going away for the weekend (which will not happen). He appears to have stayed away from alcohol for a few days (which is not true). He hides the truth and keeps his distance from her and his brother Wick (Phillip Terry). Yet Helen approaches Don and tells him to bend down. He closes his eyes (fig. 1a), bends down (fig. 1b), turns his face to her (fig. 1c), and they kiss (fig. 1d). His closed eyes signal the mechanised nature of a succession of gestures that he probably has done many times and that he does not refuse to repeat. She utters a command not a request. He gives the impression of being reluctant, but follows the order. The distance between them is lost.


Figs. 2a-b: The Lost Weekend.

Don and Helen’s kiss is too precise, almost clinical. They mouths touch—but nothing else. He does not want to acknowledge their intimacy. So her apparent coercion seems to be a way to counter his apparent resistance. The film plays with the distance that Don imposes on those around him. Later, in the bar, the insinuating Gloria (Doris Dowling) moves behind him when he is seated and uses a single finger to briefly touch his neck (fig. 2a). He interrupts the movement by grasping her hand (fig. 2b). Don avoids contact and closeness, whatever dissolves his isolation and makes him feel vulnerable and connected (vulnerable because connected).


Figs. 3, 4a-d, and 5: The Lost Weekend.

The first flashback of the movie shows how Don and Helen first met at the theatre. That night, he throws an umbrella in her direction instead of politely giving it to her. This is not just a rude gesture, but an action that exposes the distance between them that Don wants to maintain, but that she conquers little by little. The end of the second flashback reveals the first time when she asked him to bend down with the same hand movement (fig. 3). This moment makes clear the link between the space that he tries to preserve around him and his alcoholism. It is split into shots and reverse-shots in contrast with the moment in the opening scene. His refusal is therefore underlined. He stares at her, defiant (fig. 4a), and drinks one last time (fig. 4b) before looking at her, immobile (fig. 4c). He is waiting for her response. It is all in her hands. She then puts her right hand on his face and cleans his lips with her thumb (fig. 4d). Next, she grabs his head and lifts herself up to kiss him (fig. 5). The distance that separates them disappears—for a little while. He does not offer resistance when she grabs him and kisses him. Their union is the result of her determination and will that, as the initial scene demonstrates, can overcome the determination and the will that he lacks.

(Post-)Conflict Cinema

05.11.2011

I am participating in this momentous conference with a paper on Roberto Rossellini’s Paisá (Paisan, 1946) — more on that when the time comes. Further information about the event may be found here.

In and Out of Character

04.11.2011


Do the Right Thing.

O meu orientador de doutoramento, Murray Smith, Professor Catedrático de Estudos Fílmicos da Universidade de Kent, apresenta a conferência “In and Out of Character” no dia 14 de Novembro, às 18:30, no Auditório IV da FLUC. É uma grande honra recebê-lo na Universidade de Coimbra.

De modo a preparar o evento, serão projectados previamente dois filmes dirigidos por Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing (Não Dês Bronca, 1989) e Clockers (Passadores, 1995), nos dias 4 e 11 de Novembro, às 17:00, na Sala 13 da FLUC. Aqui fica o resumo da conferência, em inglês:

In the preface to Philosophy, Black Film, Film Noir, Dan Flory writes of the “rat’s nest of beliefs” that underpin our viewing and experience of any film–and especially those films that engage with the history and politics of race. This is an apt image for a domain which is indeed enormously complex, messy, and not a little uncomfortable to confront. In this paper I focus on three questions, of increasing generality, posed by Philosophy, Black Film, Film Noir. The first and most particular of these questions: is Flory right to say that Sal (in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing) a racist? My second question kicks the debate up one level and asks: how does the figure of the “sympathetic racist”—exemplified by Sal and by Rocco in Lee’s Clockers, and on Flory’s account, a central device in these films—work rhetorically? Finally I turn to the first of the three terms in the title of Flory’s book, by asking: can we regard these films as engaging in a kind of philosophy?

Delivery, Not Philosophy

03.11.2011


Letter from an Unknown Woman.

Clara Rowland (Universidade de Lisboa) leccionará o primeiro seminário transversal do programa de doutoramento Materialidades da Literatura, intitulado “Delivery, Not Philosophy: A Carta no Cinema”, no próximo dia 11 de Novembro. A sessão tem início às 14h, na Sala Ferreira Lima da FLUC. As inscrições para a sessão serão limitadas, podendo os interessados inscrever-se por correio electrónico através do endereço materialidades.da.literatura@gmail.com. Eis o resumo do seminário:

Este seminário parte de uma dupla hipótese: por um lado, assenta na convicção de que a partir das relações e tensões entre escrita e cinema é possível pensar relacionalmente ideias de literatura e ideias de cinema; por outro, apoia-se na ideia de que as representações materiais da escrita (livros, cartas, diários) podem fazer-se eixo desse confronto, apresentando-se ao mesmo tempo como figuras da literatura e da materialidade da escrita. A carta, circulando insistentemente pela história do cinema, parece solicitar como resposta uma interrogação das implicações teóricas do confronto entre voz, palavra e imagem no cinema. O trajecto proposto considerará estas hipóteses a partir de dois casos contemporâneos e paradigmáticos—Letter from an Unknown Woman (Carta de Uma Desconhecida, 1948) de Max Ophüls e A Letter to Three Wives (Carta a Três Mulheres, 1949) de Joseph Mankiewicz—, articulando-os com os problemas da representação da carta do cinema mudo ao cinema contemporâneo.

The Johnny Cash Project

18.10.2011

O Johnny Cash Project é uma fascinante iniciativa de arte colectiva com contribuições de pessoas de todos os continentes. O sítio electrónico www.thejohnnycashproject.com permite o acesso e o trabalho de uma das imagens de um dos vídeos musicais de Johnny Cash. As imagens são depois combinadas como esta versão de “Ain’t No Grave” demonstra. Eis um caso eloquente de autoria partilhada facilitada pelos meios electrónicos contemporâneos. O projecto conjuga diferentes visões sobre a canção e sobre o cantor que o vídeo final põe em diálogo através da montagem. (Obrigado à Ana pela dica.)

A Vida Virtual do Filme

12.10.2011

Em 2010, preparei um seminário de discussão sobre o livro de D. N. Rodowick, The Virtual LIfe of Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007). O resumo que escrevi com os pontos fundamentais do ensaio está agora disponível para consulta ou descarga aqui.

Cinema às Segundas

10.10.2011


O Cinema Vai ao Teatro

26.09.2011


Les Enfants du paradis.

Inicia-se hoje o ciclo de cinema O Cinema Vai ao Teatro que ajudei a programar no TAGV. Este evento insere-se nas comemorações dos 50 anos do teatro e conta com o apoio do cineclube Fila K.

SEGUNDA, 26 SET.
21:30   Les Enfants du paradis (Os Rapazes da Geral, 1945), real. Marcel Carné

TERÇA, 27 SET.
21:30   Le Carrosse d’or (A Comédia e a Vida, 1952), real. Jean Renoir

QUARTA, 28 SET.
18:30   Opening Night (Noite de Estreia, 1977), real. John Cassavetes
21:30   Efter repetitionen (Depois do Ensaio, 1984), real. Ingmar Bergman

QUINTA, 29 SET.
18:30   Topsy-Turvy (1999), real. Mike Leigh
21:30   Dogville (2003), real. Lars Von Trier

Índia: Cinema e Sociedade

24.09.2011

A partir de 8 de Outubro, e durante os sábados desse mês, o Museu do Oriente em Lisboa disponibiliza o curso “Índia: Cinema e Sociedade”. Cito o texto que nos convida a participar nesta iniciativa educativa:

A Índia constitui um dos mais diversificados painéis sociais e culturais do mundo contemporâneo. Efectivamente, ser indiano comporta a possibilidade de falar uma das 22 línguas classificadas ou um dos seus muitos dialectos e de praticar algumas das principais religiões da Ásia e do globo. Esta complexidade tem coexistido politicamente naquela que é, sem dúvida, a maior democracia do mundo, com cerca de um sexto da população do globo e a mais jovem e que, com a política de liberalização económica iniciada em 1991, passou de uma nação extremamente carenciada a uma das maiores economias do globo.

Por isso, independentemente das suas divisões internas em língua, religião, região e casta, segundo o historiador inglês E. P. Thomson, a Índia é “o país mais importante para o futuro do mundo”, estatuto confirmado pelo seu lugar de liderança no domínio da ciência e da tecnologia, com uma população correspondente a um sexto da população mundial e, demograficamente falando, a mais jovem, uma classe média de mais de 300 milhões de indivíduos—equivalente à população dos Estados Unidos da América—educada, profissionalizada em diferentes sectores e tendo o inglês como língua dominante.

Nos últimos 20 anos, assistiu-se à entrada da Índia na economia transnacional, graças ao desenvolvimento de tecnologias de comunicação e de informação, à entrada no mercado de televisão por satélite e a uma escala de produção cinematográfica a nível internacional que levaram Shekhar Kapur, realizador de Elizabeth e de Bandit Queen, a afirmar que a Índia definirá e dominará o entretenimento global no século XXI.

O curso tem como objectivo apresentar a Índia contemporânea na sua diversidade e complexidade, articulando a apresentação de cada tema com o seu cinema, dos realizadores clássicos como Satyajit Ray ao moderníssimo e cosmopolita Bollywood.

Audi Alteram Partem

22.09.2011

“Audi alteram partem”, escreve Agostinho de Hipona em Duabyus Animabus. Foi a expressão que abriu a cine-conferência que Edgar Pêra apresentou ontem no TAGV. Excluímos o outro quando optamos por oposições binárias, quando toleramos a diferença em vez de a convidarmos. É preciso, não apenas deixar falar, mas “ouvir a outra parte”—o que só acontece se estivermos atentos à sua irredutível singularidade.

In Coimbra

21.09.2011

Classes began last week.

Last year, I was invited by the direction of the Art Studies Course, which is offered by the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Coimbra, to be an Auxiliary Professor of Film Studies. I accepted it. I am also coordinating the whole area of film and image studies of the course that involves other teachers. It was tough to leave Lisbon and the New University of Lisbon, where I taught for a year—even though I am still affiliated with the Institute for the Philosophy of Language (and participating in its ongoing research project on film and philosophy). I am still adapting, but it is my conviction that it was the right choice to take on this challenge, both personally and professionally. Here is a list of the modules that I am teaching this year:

UNDERGRADUATE
Cinema History and Aesthetics I
Cinema History and Aesthetics II
Cinema History and Aesthetics III
Cinema Seminar
Film Criticism

GRADUATE
Cinema and Other Arts

Cinema 16mm II

08.09.2011



LOLA

25.08.2011

Adrian Martin and Girish Shambu are the editors of a new online journal of film criticism called LOLA. The first issue may be found here and it includes articles by Nicole Brenez, Andrew Klevan, Adrian Martin, Luc Moullet, and other authors. Good news for those of us who write (and are looking for) film criticism that is not journalistic—one year after the resurrection of Movie, in a joint venture between the Universities of Warwick, Reading, and Oxford.

Raoul Ruiz (1941-2011)

21.08.2011



L’Hypothèse du tableau volé (The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, 1979).

The cinema is a mechanical mirror that has a memory.

—Raoul Ruiz

Delight

16.08.2011

One of the ways that the topic of pleasure has entered academic research on film and television is, as John Corner points out, “an appreciation of popular culture (at times, a celebration) for its expressive qualities and its relation to ordinary living and ordinary pleasures”.[1] Pleasure is a reaction or effect, which may be connected with knowledge and expectation, genre and reception, and that “is, for instance, very clearly the product of the use of images and talk, it is often generated from forms of narrative”.[2]

John Fiske draws on the distinction made by Roland Barthes between plaisir and jouissance.[3] As Corner explains, plaisir is a confirmatory pleasure that results from an engagement with aesthetic elements, requiring a specific type of attention and disposition that is communal. Jouissance has been translated as bliss.[4] It is a sensual pleasure that is individual instead of social, it becomes “a kind of utopian category, a category of escape, its experience providing opportunity for a temporary, personal transcendence of everyday necessity which gestures toward a better way of living and being”.[5]

Perhaps there is a third type of pleasure: delight. It is a pleasure that is individual as much as communal (that is, it is personal), illuminating the relationship between me and you, your and my pleasure. It is the pleasure of being charmed and enlightened as one takes in the shared and magnetic mystery of moving images.

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[1] John Corner, Critical Ideas in Television Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 94.
[2] Ibid., p. 93.
[3] John Fiske, Television Culture: Popular Pleasures and Politics (London: Methuen, 1987), p. 230.
[4] See Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text [1973], trans. Richard MIller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975).
[5] Corner, Critical Ideas in Television Studies, p. 101.

Cut to Black

11.08.2011





The Sopranos, “Made in America”.

“Made in America” (6.21), the final episode of The Sopranos (1999-2007), aired on 10 June 2007. Its closing scene immediately generated controversy due to its alleged ambiguity and lack of closure. The decision to abruptly cut to black and to silence, and sustain it for ten seconds before the credits, left many viewers puzzled.

It is urgent to revisit this closing scene and the debate that surrounded it, focusing on its reception and interpretation. Television series raise a particular type of expectation regarding their conclusion—not just a different kind of anticipation, built over the years, but also one that is made more intense. Such expectation explains the frustration of some spectators. Other audience members were instead intrigued by the ending and wrote articles about its possible meanings—for example, arguing that the black screen symbolises Tony’s (James Gandolfini) death. Yet David Chase, the creator of the programme, said: “There are no esoteric clues in there. No Da Vinci Code. Everything that pertains to that episode was in that episode.” We must ponder on these words. Not because Chase’s view should be granted privilege, but because much of the discussion about “Made in America” remained pointless given that it concentrated on what is deliberately not shown.

As such, the discussion often blacked out precise aesthetic patterns—for instance, the importance of silence in the expressive realism of The Sopranos—and their connections with narrative structure—for example, the significance of moments within the incomplete threads of the series. The sudden cut to silent black is peremptory, but this formal punctuation does not have to stand for the death of the protagonist or any other thing. The scene reinforces the central tension between the hazards of criminal life and the joys of family life. The ending of many episodes is elliptical, this last one is just more unsettling, heightening the strain that the wait for Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) prolongs and that the song that Tony chooses, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, punctuates. It is a full stop.

Na Desordem

09.07.2011

Foi recentemente publicado o volume Literatura, Espaço, Cartografias, coordenado por António Apolinário Lourenço e Osvaldo Manuel Silvestre, e editado pelo Centro de Literatura Portuguesa da Universidade de Coimbra. Escrevi um dos capítulos, intitulado “Na Desordem: Balagan, Mapa Intersticial de Histórias e Identidades”. Informações detalhadas sobre o conteúdo do livro podem ser encontradas aqui.

The Mystery of (Photographic) Images

19.06.2011

It may be felt that I make too great a mystery of these objects. My feeling is rather that we have forgotten how mysterious these things are, and in general how different different things are from one another, as though we had forgotten how to value them. This is in fact something that movies teach us.

—Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed

References to the Mosaic-Screen

31.05.2011

Philippe Mathieu quotes my essay on the mosaic-screen in his MA dissertation in Film Studies (University of Montreal, 2010), “Pour une histoire et une esthétique de l‘écran fragmenté au cinéma”.

Peter Matthew Ingrassia mentions the same article in his MFA thesis in Science and Natural History Filmmaking (Montana State University, 2009), “The Split-Screen Aesthetic: Connecting Meaning Between Fragmented Frames”.

Thanks for engaging with my concept—and in a serious manner.

A Fotografia Contemporânea no Brasil

26.05.2011

Espetacular e Real

25.05.2011

Depois das quatro primeiras sessões, em que se discutiu o papel dos teatros municipais e das companhias independentes, dos dramaturgos e dos encenadores, dos festivais diários e das performances quotidianas, este ciclo organizado por O Teatrão sobre o lugar do teatro num contexto de espetacularização do eu e das comunidades apresenta mais uma sessão. Desta vez, estarei presente na Casa das Caldeiras com Francisco Beja, diretor da ESMAE, com moderação da conversa a cargo de Fernando Matos Oliveira (Universidade de Coimbra).

Music Videos and Non-Musical Sounds

21.05.2011


David Bowie’s “Thursday’s Child”.

Tomorrow I shall present a paper on music videos and non-musical sounds at the sixth edition of the Music and the Moving Image conference organised by New York University. The complete paper will be available for online reading or download in my writings archive. Here is the abstract:

Continuing a research project on unconventional elements of music videos,[1] which complements the existent scholarly investigation on these works,[2] this paper analyses the use of non-musical sounds in this form. Sounds that are not instrumental or vocal music may have different functions in a video, that is, they may be put in relation with the music track in various ways. Such aural elements may have a narrative or expressive function, for example, helping to define a fictional world or conveying the interiority of a character. They may also be used to contextualise the song in a recognisable place or to decontextualise it, projecting the song into an unreal universe. Music videos like David Bowie’s “Thursday’s Child” (1999) and Gwen Stefani’s “What You Waiting For” (2004) ask us to hear the songs afresh. Through their salient non-musical sounds, these videos also remind us that, as Michel Chion has argued,[3] music videos combine images and sounds instead of simply adding one to the other. Therefore, examining the usage of non-musical sounds in particular music videos involves considering each one of them as a whole—in other words, as audiovisual works.

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[1] See Sérgio Dias Branco, “Music Videos and Reused Footage”, Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies, no. 15, “Cultural Borrowings: Appropriation, Reworking, Transformation”, ed. Iain Robert Smith (2009), pp. 111-21, http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/cultborr/chapter.php?id=10.
[2] See, e.g., Carol Vernallis, Experiencing Music Video: Aesthetics and Cultural Context (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003) that focuses on the conventions of music video.
[3] Michel Chion, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen [1990], ed. and trans. Claudia Borbman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. xxvi.

8.º MIFEC

18.05.2011

Regresso à Premiere

12.04.2011


Film socialisme.

Já está à venda o novo número da Premiere, com o meu amigo Jorge Pinto como chefe de redacção. Fui convidado por ele a regressar à revista para escrever uma crítica por mês. É com agrado que o faço. A crítica cinematográfica, na reflexão sobre o cinema que pode gerar e no contributo para a uma cultura cinematográfica que pode dar, continua a ser uma parte importante do meu trabalho.

Para esta edição, escrevi a crítica a Film socialisme (Filme Socialismo, 2010). O texto pode ser lido aqui.

Motto

24.03.2011

Never a “specialist”, always a student.

Cognitive Science and the Moving Image

21.03.2011

The Magnifying Class #8

10.02.2010


Ordet.

Another “Magnifying Class” is taking place today at the University of Oxford. Our group turns its attention to Ordet (1954), directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. It is a moving film about living faith, about the life of faith, the life that faith gives. It speaks volumes to me and it leaves me speechless every time I watch it—or perhaps it makes me acutely aware of the limitations of verbal expression.
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“The Magnifying Class”: #3 · #4 · #5 · #6 · #7

American and British Sitcoms

03.02.2011

Brett Mills draws a sharp distinction between the production of British and American sitcoms:

In Britain, the writer usually creates a programme, seeks a producer, retains much of the control over the programme’s development and the series usually ends once the writer no longer wishes to write it. In America, producers usually create and control programmes and employ writers to write them, retaining the artistic control which, in Britain, is much more firmly in the hands of the writer.[1]

This description is only partially correct because Mills does not acknowledge the fact that the producers who create and develop American sitcoms are usually writers. Mills does however make some important points—for example, about the industrialised nature of American television production. The time gap between production and broadcast is very short and makes it easier for sitcoms to be topical, reflecting current social issues. There are therefore cultural differences between the sitcoms produced in America and in Britain. Popular social analysis is common in American programmes of this genre, but not in their British counterparts. The latter inevitably reflect general concerns. Yet there are other genres where the channelling of social commentary is more usual in the British context such as the soap-opera.
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[1] Brett Mills, Television Sitcom (London: BFI, 2005), p. 55.

Cinema 2 CFP

31.01.2011

Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and Moving Image is now accepting submissions for its 2nd issue. Editors welcome articles that fall under the broad rubric of the relations between cinema and philosophy. Areas include, but are not limited to:

• philosophy of cinema today;
• epistemology and ontology of cinema and of the moving image;
• the relationship between film studies and philosophy of cinema;
• the analytic/continental divide within philosophy of cinema;
• new approaches and trends within the philosophy of cinema;
• historical approaches to philosophy of cinema and film theory;
• cinema as philosophy.

The submission deadlines are 1 Mar. 2011 (for 500-word abstracts) and 1 Jun. 2011 (for completed papers). Prospective authors should submit a short CV along with the abstract. A selection of authors will be invited to submit full papers according to the journal guidelines. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication, since all papers will be subject to double blind peer-review. Submissions are accepted in Portuguese and English (and in French and Spanish, but only from native speakers of these languages).

Cinema also invites submissions to its special sections: interviews, conference reports, and book reviews. For further details, please consult the web site.

Feel free to contact the editors, Patrícia Castello Branco, Sérgio Dias Branco, and Susana Viegas, with queries at cjpmi@fcsh.unl.pt.

Escolhas 2010

28.01.2011


Vincere.

Gostava de ter visto outros filmes—Mistérios de Lisboa (2010), por exemplo. No entanto, bastou-me ver os que vi para perceber que 2010 foi um ano de excepção. Às obras da lista em baixo, podia acrescentar Drag Me to Hell (Até ao Inferno, 2009), Brothers (Entre Irmãos, 2009), Les herbes folles (As Ervas Daninhas, 2009), Ruínas (2009), e Shirin (2008), entre outras. Ainda assim, convém relembrar que a distribuição portuguesa continua a ser marcada por desequilíbrios e decisões difíceis de explicar. O lançamento de uma obra-prima como Fantastic Mr. Fox (O Fantástico Senhor Raposo, 2009), com grandes potencialidades comerciais, directamente em DVD, demonstra-o bem.

No ano passado, o discurso em volta do cinema continuou a centrar-se no 3D, vendido como novidade espectacular. A tecnologia pode fazer brotar a originalidade artística, isto é, uma visão do mundo e da existência distinta, disponível, aberta ao mistério e à complexidade das coisas. Mas a celebração mecânica das proezas tecnológicas tem repetidas vezes envolvido uma rejeição do processo de pensar e sentir verdadeiramente o cinema que cada filme nos propõe, a nível estético e ético. É claro que é preciso filmes que procurem este tipo de resposta dos espectadores. É por isso que os filmes que se seguem merecem atenção, pelo modo como se interessam pelas matérias que convocam, pelo trabalho detalhado das suas formas, e pelo seu sentido de risco.

Bright Star (Bright Star - Estrela Cintilante, 2000), real. Jane Campion
Copie conforme (Cópia Certificada, 2010), real. Abbas Kiarostami
Danse: Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris, La (2009), real. Frederick Wiseman
Des hommes et des dieux (Dos Homens e dos Deuses, 2010), real. Xavier Beauvois
Illusionniste, L’ (O Mágico, 2010), real. Sylvain Chomet
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Scott Pilgrim Contra o Mundo, 2010), real. Edgar Wright
Serious Man, A (Um Homem Sério, 2009), real. Ethan e Joel Coen
Shutter Island (2010), real. Martin Scorsese
Social Network, The (A Rede Social, 2010), real. David Fincher
Vincere (Vencer, 2009), real. Marco Bellocchio[1]
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[1] Publicado simultaneamente em Cinema2000: Balanço 2010 - As Nossas Escolhas”.