Film Festival Research at SCMS 2013

TSCMS_chicago-ad-2013he preliminary conference program for the annual conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) in Chicago, 6-10 March 2013, is out.  A view into the schedule shows that the output of film festival research continues to be very strong.

The following workshop and 7 panels feature new film festival research and are sponsored by the Film and Media Festivals Scholarly Interest Group at SCMS.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 10:00AM-11:45AM (Session A)
A24: Workshop: Behind the Velvet Rope: Insider/Outsider Dilemmas for Film Festival Researchers
Room: 24
Chair: Diane Burgess (University of British Columbia)

Workshop Participants:

  • Christian Jungen (University of Zurich)
  • Skadi Loist (University of Hamburg)
  • Roya Rastegar (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Liz Czach (University of Alberta)
  • Diane Burgess (University of British Columbia)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 02:00PM-03:45PM (Session C)
C5: Documentary Film Festivals: Activism, Education, and Archiving
Room: 5
Chair: Ger Zielinski (Trent University)

  • Ryan Bowles (University of California, Santa Barbara), “‘How to Start a Human Rights Film Festival’: Training and Resistance”
  • Carole Roy (St. Francis Xavier University), “Documentary Film Festivals and Social Transformation”
  • Aida Vallejo (University of Basque), “Documentary Film Festivals in Europe: A Historical Overview”
  • Heather Barnes (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), “Preserving Film Festival Records”

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 04:00PM-05:45PM (Session D)
D5: Global Film Cultures: International Festivals, Workshops, and New Waves
Room: 5
Chair: Anne Ciecko (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

  • Zeynep Yasar (Indiana University Bloomington), “The Question of ‘Indie-ness’: Cultural Politics of the Istanbul International Independent Film Festival”
  • Sara Saljoughi (University of Minnesota), “Inventing ‘Our’ Avant-Garde: The House is Black, The Golestan Film Workshop, and the Iranian New Wave”
  • Tze-Lan Sang (Michigan State University), “Globalization and Its Discontents through Chinese Women’s Cinéma Vérité”
  • Anne Ciecko (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), “Contemporary Armenian Film Culture(s) and Structures of Sensation and Taste: From Pomegranate Tableaux to Multidimensional Apricots”

Thursday, March 7, 2013 03:00PM-04:45PM (Session H)
H4: Intersection: Situating Media, Tourism, and Festival Studies
Room: 4
Chair: Robert Peaslee (Texas Tech University)
Respondent: Curtis Coats (Millsaps College)

  • Regina Arnold (Stanford University), “Hardly Strictly Utopia: Race, Space, and the American Rock Festival”
  • Kevin Esch (Independent Scholar), “The Small State of Large Festivals; or, How a Former Red Sox Pitcher Nearly Ruined the Rhode Island International Film Festival”
  • Robert Peaslee (Texas Tech University), “Media Conduction: Exploring Power at the Intersection of Media, Tourism, and Festival Studies”

Friday, March 8, 2013 12:15PM-02:00PM (Session K)
K4: Inter/national Film Festivals Targeting Contemporary Asian Cinema
Room: 4
Chair: Boel Ulfsdotter (University of Skövde)

  • Boel Ulfsdotter (University of Skövde), “East Asian Popular Film at the European Film Festivals 2000-2010”
  • Tit Leung Cheung (Lingnan University), “The Film Festival of Independent and Underground in China: The Case of the Documentary Film Festival China (DOChina)”
  • Andrew Dorman (University of St Andrews), “The Performance of Nationality: Japanese Film Aesthetics on the International Film Festival Award Circuit”
  • Ran Ma (Osaka City University), “Festival Film in Post-underground Mode and the New Auteurism of Chinese Independent Cinema”

Saturday, March 9, 2013 09:00AM-10:45AM (Session M)
M7: World Documentary, Festivals, and Auteurs
Room: 7
Chair: Zhen Zhang (New York University)
Respondent: Aida Vallejo (University of Basque)

  • Cecile Lagesse (Yale University), “Chinese Documentary and International Film Festivals: The Reception of Director Zhao Liang’s Work”
  • Erin Alpert (University of Pittsburgh), “Sergei Loznitsa: Russian Documentary Auteur”
  • Raisa Sidenova (Yale University), “Global Documentary: New Genre and New Auteurs”

Saturday, March 9, 2013 01:00PM-02:45PM (Session O)
O4: Ethnographic Approaches in Film Festival Studies
Room: 4
Chair: Helle Kannik Haastrup (Roskilde University)
Respondent: Ragan Rhyne (Independent Scholar)

  • Sarah Dillard (Indiana University), “Everyday is a Festival: Towards an Ethnographic Understanding of the Toronto International Film Festival Organization”
  • Jennifer Hessler (University of California, Santa Barbara), “Next and the Ethos of Authenticity: An Ethnographic Look at Sundance’s Low Budget Filmmakers”
  • Helle Kannik Haastrup (Roskilde University), “The Cannes Film Festival as a Media Event: Palme d’Or, Art Film, and the Red Carpet”


Saturday, March 9, 2013 03:00PM-04:45PM (Session P)
Film and Media Festivals SIG will convene at room Florentine at Mezzanine level (East)


Saturday, March 9, 2013 05:00PM-06:45PM (Session Q)
Q4: Film Festivals and Space: Cinema, City, Nation
Room: 4
Chair: Lindiwe Dovey (University of London)

  • Gabriele Mueller (York University), “Redefining the Autorenfilm? The German Film Festival Ludwigshafen – a National Auteur Film Festival in the Age of Transnational and Industrial Filmmaking”
  • Murat Akser (Kadir Has University), “The Battle of the Festival Cities: Political Economy of Turkish Film Festivals”
  • Lesley-Ann Dickson (University of Glasgow), “Transformed and Embodied Spaces: A Qualitative Look at Cross-venue Experience during Glasgow Film Festival”
  • Lindiwe Dovey (University of London), “From Town to Township and Back: The Durban International Film Festival”


The following panel also features a paper focussing on film festival studies.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 09:00AM-10:45AM (Session R)
R14: Transnational Historiography
Room: 14
Chair: Peter Limbrick (University of California, Santa Cruz)

  • Jose Miguel Palacios (New York University), “Towards a History of Experimental Cinema in Latin America”
  • James Genova (Ohio State University, Marion), “Cinema, Revolution, and Development: The Solidarity of African and Latin American Filmmakers, 1965-1975”
  • Katherine Morrow (University of Washington), “China Inside and Out: The 1958 Karlovy-Vary International Film Festival”
  • Peter Limbrick (University of California, Santa Cruz), “Modernism, Film Culture, and Moroccan Short Film and Documentary”
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CfP The Host City: (Re)Locating Media Events in the Network Era

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture

The Host City: (Re)Locating Media Events in the Network Era

Guest Editor: Robert Moses Peaslee, Texas Tech University
Assistant Guest Editor: Brendan Kredell, University of Calgary

As media events (Couldry, Hepp & Krotz, 2010; Dayan & Katz,1992) of all stripe proliferate around the world, a variety of stakeholders jockey for position and advantage in the geographical and cultural contexts chosen to host them. Media events, as Dayan and Katz famously characterized them, were defined in part by their liveness, their physical remoteness from the majority of their “audience,” their interruptive nature, and their status, nonetheless, as pre-planned (prominent examples today would include the Olympic games, the annual film festival at Cannes, the Super Bowl, and music festivals such as Chicago’s Lollapalooza). Many of these events are consistently located, well-established and have assumed a defensive position aimed at maintaining brand identity and prestige. Others, such as the Olympics, change locations, while others (such as Austin, TX’s Fantastic Fest) are ascendant, and still others are nascent at best. Each host community, however, has a unique relationship to their event(s), and each of these relationships provides fertile ground for investigating the role of media events in promoting discourses of community identity, establishing infrastructural and external networks, reifying the importance of being mediated, utilizing the “local” to speak “globally,” and a variety of other processes.

This special issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture seeks research articles engaging the media events literature and investigating the relationship between event and location, between location-as-text and location-as-infrastructure, between location and audience, between location and industry, and other relevant relationships, all in the context of networked media structures. Some relevant topics areas include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Host city branding and image management
  • Networked media events: the impact of social media
  • Media events and host city governance
  • Discourses of place in the media event
  • “Thereness” and virtuality in the media event
  • Media events as sites of resistance
  • Community and ritual
  • Media events, promotion and (g)local media
  • Fannish practices in/around the media event
  • The political economy of the media event
  • The audience experience: affect, memory, place
  • Media events and mobility
  • Comparative analyses of host cities in media event contexts

Prospective authors should submit an abstract of approximately 500 words no later than January 15, 2013 to Robert Peaslee. Abstracts will be reviewed by the editors on a rolling basis until then.

Those authors whose abstracts are accepted will be required to submit full articles of 6000-7000 words (inclusive of notes, appendices, and works cited) no later than March 15, 2013.

Full articles will be subject to a blind peer-review process, meaning that acceptance of an abstract does not denote acceptance of the full article. We anticipate accepting approximately 12 abstracts in order to produce an issue of 6-7 articles.

Any revisions required by the reviewers will be expected by mid-June in order to publish the issue in early 2014.

Authors wishing to propose relevant book reviews for the issue should also submit an abstract by January 15, 2013.

Questions and abstracts should be directed to Robert Peaslee.

Also, anyone interested in serving as a reviewer should send a brief letter of interest along with a CV to Brendan Kredell.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Robert Moses Peaslee, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Journalism & Electronic Media
College of Media & Communication
Texas Tech University

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CfPs for pre-constituted panels on Film Festivals at NECS and SCREEN, June 2013

The FFRN is looking to submit pre-constituted panel proposals on film festivals for the upcoming annual conferences of NECS (Prague, 20-22 June 2013) and Screen (Glasgow, 28-30 June 2013). Screen is known to adhere to a stricter selection policy than NECS, as it is a significantly smaller event in size, and we will respond to this by paying extra close attention to the coherence between paper proposals as well as the track record (in festival research) of potential participants.

Please note the two different deadlines!

#1 CfP pre-constituted panel(s) on film festivals at NECS 2013 Conference

Media Politics ‒ Political Media
The NECS 2013 Conference
Prague, Czech Republic, June 20-22, 2013 Hosted by Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague

In preparation for the seventh annual NECS conference taking place in Prague, 20-22 June 2013, we would like to invite scholars working on film festivals (especially members of the Film Festival Research Network & NECS Film Festival Research Work Group) to submit paper proposals for one of more pre-constituted panels.

The panel(s) will be open to papers on all aspects of research relating to film festivals, but we specifically invite papers on the conference theme of ‘Media Politics – Political Media’.  Please note that individuals may submit only one paper proposal, either to the open call or as a part of a pre-constituted panel or workshop.

Panels may consist of 3-4 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 of the presenter and institutional affiliation.

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.

We ask anyone interested in participating in a film festival panel to send their completed proposal to Skadi Loist by JANUARY 15, 2013 to allow time for preparation of the overall panel description(s) and submission before the general submissions deadline on January 31, 2013.

The conference language is English.  Conference attendance is free, but NECS membership is required to participate in the conference.  For the terms of NECS membership, please see the website.  Participants will have to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.  Detailed information on NECS and the Prague Conference will be posted on


#2 CfP pre-constituted panel(s) on film festivals at Screen 2013 Conference

Screen Conference 2013
“Cosmopolitan Screens”
University of Glasgow, 28-30 June, 2013

In preparation for the 23rd annual Screen conference taking place in Glasgow, 28-30 June 2013, we would like to invite scholars working on film festivals (especially members of the Film Festival Research Network) to submit paper proposals for one or more pre-constituted panels.

The panel(s) will be open to papers on all aspects of research relating to Film Festivals, but we especially invite papers on the conference theme of ‘Cosmopolitan Screens’ as this topic seems to particularly lend itself to film festival studies.

The general call reads:

“Debates about the national, the transnational, the global and the multi-cultural have permeated screen studies for decades.  The main theme of this year’s Screen conference will consider how such debates might be reframed through a serious engagement with theories of cosmopolitanism.  How might discussions about cosmopolitanism, currently animating subjects across the humanities and social sciences, speak to scholarship in film and television studies and vice versa?

Literally suggesting a combination of worldliness (cosmos) and place (city, city-state, citizenship – polis), the concept of cosmopolitanism has inspired new political visions post 9/11 and its aftermath.  Recently taken up as a lens through which to discuss the ethics of encountering strangers, the politics of offering hospitality to foreigners and the problem of challenging aversion to otherness, cosmopolitanism has also come under attack for its perceived complicity with global hegemonies.

If screen studies have been slow to take up the cosmopolitan question directly, it is perhaps because audiovisual media have been so deeply embedded within transnational and globalising cultures from their earliest beginnings. But is there something particular to film, television and new media cultures that might speak directly to the problems at the heart of the current cosmopolitan project?  How might we understand the changing significance of film and television through a cosmopolitan lens?  The editors of Screen welcome proposals for papers/panels on any of these questions and on the following topics of the main conference theme (proposals for other subjects beyond this focus will as usual be considered):

  • Conceptual and methodological interrogations of cosmopolitanism from perspectives within  screen studies, most especially connecting to ethics, politics, philosophy and the law;
  • Explorations of screen cultures through debates about the relationship between cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, globalisation, multiculturalism and ‘world cinema’;
  • Cosmopolitan spaces of circulation (exhibition, distribution, new platforms of delivery);
  • Cosmopolitan aesthetics and spectatorship (how might this be understood and theorised?);
  • Cosmopolitan positions – how are film and television makers and audiences positioned in relation to the production and circulation of their work?”

Panels may consist of 3 speakers. All presenters are obliged to provide us with a title, an abstract of max 200 words (incl. 3-5 key bibliographical references), name of the presenter and institutional affiliation.  In order to meet the Screen standard, we suggest that you download the Screen proposal template and use this already when sending your abstract for consideration to be included in a pre-constituted panel on film festivals.

We ask anyone interested in participating in a film festival panel to send their completed proposal to Skadi Loist by JANUARY 2nd, 2013 to allow time for preparation of the overall panel description(s) and submission before the general submissions deadline on January 11, 2013.

For information on the Screen conference please visit the Screen website.

We are looking forward to your contributions.

Kind regards,

Skadi Loist
Marijke de Valck
Ger Zielinski

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Open Access publications on Film Festival Academy

The Film Festival Academy is an international community network platform for film festival professionals. FFA welcomes members from the wider film community of filmmakers, distributors, film critics, students and academics. The Academy provides a credible and ethical space for knowledge exchange, vocational training, and actual collaboration.

The Film Festival Academy will be making very many film festival-related publications available online. On the FFA site already available are downloadable PDFs of six texts that should be of direct interest to anyone working in the field: Marijke de Valck’s groundbreaking history of the development of film festivals; NISI MASA’s report from the industry training workshop in Espinho, July 2012; Thomas Elsaesser’s seminal chapter ‘Film Festival Networks: The New Topographies of Cinema in Europe’ from his excellent volume European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood; a new provocation from Mark Cousins, who challenges us to think afresh about film festival form; the entire International Film Guide 2012, with detailed surveys of the national cinema of over a hundred countries as well as director profiles and festival lisitings; and Dekalog 3: On Film Festivals, a fine collection of essays from festival programmers, academics and film critics.

Visit the site for publications and further information on the Film Festival Academy.

Also available on the site are information and material on the inaugural Film Festival Academy event, which took place at the 50th New York Film Festival September 27-28, 2012.

Have a good look and become a member of the Film Festival Academy.


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Screen Industries in East-Central Europe & Theorizing Screenwriting, BRNO 22-25 Nov 2012

The Second Annual Screen Industries in East-Central Europe Conference investigates historical and contemporary dimensions of the region’s audiovisual media industries from all angles – local, transnational, economic, cultural, social, and political – and through a broad range of original scholarship delivered in the form of conceptual papers and empirical case-studies. The workshop Theorizing Screenwriting Practice brings together scholars of film and television, practicing screenwriters, and other media professionals to discuss changing practices, institutional frameworks, and the social status of screenwriting in contemporary screen media.

The conference features a panel on “Film Festivals and the Cold War”


Chair: Lucie Česálková

1. Dorota Ostrowska (Birkbeck College, University of London, UK): Polish Cinema at International Film Festivals

2. Stefano Pisu (University of Cagliari, Italy): International Cultural Relations between WWII and the Cold War: USSR at the Venice Film Festival (1946-1953)

3. Jindřiška Bláhová (Independent Scholar, Czech Rep.): Marty (1955), the International Film Festival Karlovy Vary, and Hollywood-Czechoslovak Cold-War Relations

4. Aida Vallejo (University of the Basque Country and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain): Industry Sections: Documentary Festivals between Production and Distribution

Respondent: Melis Behlil

The full program is available for download here.


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CfP Film Festival Reports for Alphaville_Journal of Film and Screen Media

Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media

CFP: conference and film festival reports

The editors of Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media seek conference and film festival reports for Issue 5, to be published Summer 2013. Potential contributors are invited to submit a conference or film festival report (in MLA style), along with a short bibliography and contact information to the editors by 1 March 2013. Reports should be 1,500-2,500 words in length and should be original, unpublished in print or electronically, and not under consideration elsewhere.

Please contact the Conference and Festival Reports editor at:
Yuanyuan Chen, Film Studies, University College Cork
Film Studies at University College Cork

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NECSUS_European Journal of Media Studies

We are excited to announce that the NECSUS_European Journal of Media Studies is now online at and will feature an edited film festival review section.

NECSUS is an international, peer-reviewed journal of media studies, connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies).  NECSUS is targeted to a broad readership of researchers, lecturers, and students, and will be offered as a biannual open access, online journal in partnership with Amsterdam University Press.

The journal is multidisciplinary and strives to bring together the best work in the field of media studies across the humanities and social sciences. It aims to publish research that matters and that improves the understanding of media and culture inside and outside the academic community.

Each volume will feature a special thematic section, an open section for diverse contributions, and a reviews section that will cover books, conferences, festivals, and exhibits.

The NECSUS film festival review section publishes critical writing on film festivals. It offers a platform for writings that fall between the fast and prolific genre of individual festival reports and the slow and rigorous labor of film festival research. Rather than merely reviewing the latest festival edition, contributors are asked to take a critical distance and reflect upon one or more thematic issues that are relevant to the professional field and/or for media studies. Reviews can be motivated by current affairs but should also tackle issues that tend to remain hidden in the midst of festival buzz.

Guidelines for the short pieces (max. 2,500 words) can be found at the end of the NECSUS guidelines for submissions. If you are interested in writing a festival review please contact the festival review editors Marijke de Valck and Skadi Loist.

Current and upcoming journal topics are:

#1, Spring 2012, ‘Crisis’
#2, Autumn 2012, ‘Tangibility’
#3, Spring 2013, ‘Green’
#4, Autumn 2013, ‘Waste’.

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CFP for the 2013 SCMS conference

CFP for the 2013 SCMS conference (March 6-10, Drake Hotel, Chicago)

As discussed in the SIG meeting we (Skadi and Ger) will serve as coordinators for the CFP, so please send us your proposals so that we may put the panels together under cogent themes. We hope that this will help more scholars to participate in the panels and workshops and to make the process more efficient for all concerned.

As we cannot submit all panels directly as SIG chairs, in addition to your proposal please let us know if you are willing and in a position to act as a chair for a panel or workshop.  As chair you are responsible for the timely submission of the panel to the SCMS site. Be aware that according to SCMS guidelines one person can only serve in two different functions at a time, e.g. either act as chair and give a paper, or give a paper and be part of a workshop, but not submit two papers – see guidelines.

DEADLINE: Send us by email your proposal for paper, panel, workshop, or event by *Monday, July 30*.

Some topics for consideration (intersectional as ever, but definitely not limited to these!):

  • documentary film festivals
  • authorship and the festival network
  • mobile festivals, old and new, analogue and digital
  • transnational aspects of festivals
  • agora, protest, resistance at film festivals
  • Latin American, African, Asian film festivals
  • multiplatform festivals
  • political economy of film/media festivals
  • insider/outsider
  • tourism and festivals
  • subcultures, scenes and festivals
  • social movements and festivals
  • innovating, updating festivals

See the GENERAL CFP for SCMS: here.

PAPER: To propose a paper, you must include: 1) a title, 2) a summary no longer than 2500 characters, 3) 3-5 bibliographic sources, 4) an author bio no longer than 500 characters (name, academic affiliation, research interests), and 5) indicate whether you would like to chair a panel. Please also include a few key thematics to your paper, which we will use to group your paper with others into panels.

While our SIG has been very successful in the number of its panels and workshops being accepted, this all depends on the quality of our individual and group proposals. For those who have little experience in writing conference proposals, please consult the practical points here, and ask your doctoral supervisor for advice.

WORKSHOP: To propose a workshop, you must include: 1) a title, 2) a summary no longer than 2500 characters, 3) 3-5 bibliographic sources, 4) a chair bio no longer than 500 characters and the names, affiliations, and bios for no more than five participants excluding the chair. You may use either the workshop title or a new topic title for each participant. Note: titles should clearly signal the main topic of the proposal.

If you already have created a panel or workshop, wonderful but please let us know! If your panel requires a few participants, please let us know!

The 2013 conference bulletin board is up. While we will be posting our call on the official bulletin board, we would prefer that you submit your proposals to us via the email addresses above. We encourage you to keep an eye on it for any other relevant calls. (The deadline for bulletin board submissions is July 16 at 5:00pm CT)

EVENTS: While we would like to retain our very successful social event at the beginning of the conference, we would also like to set aside an amount ($100) for sponsoring a local guest speaker, especially if coordinated with another SIG or Caucus group. The person proposing the event will take care of administrating the whole process, once the selection has been made.

Please email to us a proposal including a short description (2500 characters max), its relevance to film/media festival studies, persons involved, likelihood that those participating will be available and willing, contact information, and short bio of the organizer.

Please also inform yourself of the various deadlines for the graduate student travel stipend and waivers.

After July 30, we will consider all proposals to constitute the panels and workshops, then inform all those concerned. Since pre-constituted panels are more likely to be accepted than individual papers, we  are aiming to maximize the number of participants working on film/media festivals.

We wish you an excellent summer, and are looking forward to your submissions to us in late July!

Very best,

Skadi Loist & Ger Zielinski
Co-chairs, Film and Media Festivals SIG, SCMS


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It’s Cannestastic: The Simulacrum Abides (by Dennis Broe)

A personal Cannes Film Festival review by Dennis Broe.
Cross-posted from the James Agee Cinema Circle blog.


Cannes 2012—Review

Hi, this is Broe on the World Film Beat, today with a Cannes Cleanup.

I’m Dennis Broe and all the other critics have left the Croissette and are home by now, but I’ve remained. I’m here alone sweeping and cleaning up after the event. Actually I didn’t go to Cannes but I did follow it from Paris where the films in three of the four  main competitions play in theaters immediately after the event, theaters which include the Forum des Image and Reflet Medicis. Cannes is the main feeding ground for foreign films that will both be featured in the Fall New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center and that will be released in the U.S. throughout the year.

The main competition, far from being Cannestastic, was judged a bit lackluster this year, so instead today I’m going to discuss films in competition in the series Un Certain Regard, which generally deals with more established directors who did not make the main competition, and Quinzaine de Realisateurs, or Fortnight of Directors, created the year after the Cannes shut-down in 1968 which was said to have helped provoke the student strikes, and which, in line with the moment of its formation, boasts a strong emphasis on socially relevant films by new or established directors.

I will be reviewing a number of the films and handing out my own awards: My Palme Rouge, the Red Palme, for the most politically engaging film; the Palme Verte, the green palme for a film that makes a worthy contribution to, in line with the color, sustaining the planet aesthetically and spiritually; and, finally, the Palme d’Or de Dinde, the Golden Turkey Palme, to the film which litters the planet with consumerist crap, if I may be so blunt, and it is my segment, so I may be.

Cannestroversy. There are always many controversies at Cannes and this year a major one involved possible jury tampering, as 4 of 6 films which received prizes in a jury presided over by the avowedly left Italian filmmaker Nanno Moretti were distributed by the company Le Pacte distributor of Moretti’s last film Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), a not very good white washing of the power of the Catholic Church about a pope who is uncomfortable about accepting that power—and who bears no relationship to a certain contemporary pope who shall remain nameless but, who, because of his power grabbing, is now the subject of exposes collectively dubbed Vaticangate.

Tierry Fremaux director of Cannes called the Moretti jury’s choices an exercise of their “subjectivity,” as so it is in the film industry where objectivity and subjectivity are always merged, that is, both monetary reward and aesthetics exist side by side—and neither is ever exclusive of the other—and Cannes is the supreme moment of this merger. (There was a similar controversy in 2004 when the Quentin Tarantino jury awarded the top prize, the Palme d’Or to Michael Moore for Farenheit 911, and they shared the same distributor, the Weinstein Company. Fremaux, perhaps worried about a rerunning of these accusations, just prior to the festival, broke his policy of never revealing the jury’s individual decisions and tweeted, and this was the first fully twittered Cannes, that Tarantino had not voted for Moore’s film.) If you’re looking for a weightier controversy, why not try this one. A habitual sponsor and very public presence at Cannes is Hewlitt Packard, which proudly proclaims that its printers help bring the Cannes Film Festival to life by printing out all of the Cannes signs and transforming the town, and whose wondrous technology also helps aid the Israeli occupation of the West Bank by facilitating the checkpoints and thus also helping “transform” West Bank towns into armed settlements and for which it is currently one of the companies that Palestinians have asked the world to blockade. Of course nothing of this is mentioned on the Riviera where there are as yet no checkpoints, though with the financial crisis and the anger at the banks increasing throughout Europe, that day may come.

First, an overall observation on the films programmed. An overwhelming topic that filmmakers have chosen to deal with, something that seems to be uppermost on their minds given the number and the breadth of films addressing this topic, is what Mike Davis has termed, in light of neo-liberal globalization, now hastened by the economic collapse, the “Planet of Slums.” Thus we have films which deal with this typography in a number of places in the world and which stand in these two competitions in contrast to the main competition where you have the other side, David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, where that world is kept carefully outside the hermetically sealed limo of the Wall Street baron who, rather than prowling, parades down the same mean streets that these other directors describe from the inside.

Thus we have God’s Horses about the slums of Casablanca, a film which very much employs the argot of the streets, and is very attuned to that argot, recounting an actual incident where so called “terrorists” exploded bombs in a nightclub. The film is at pains to explain how the making of a “terrorist”

is primarily the product of the pronounced class difference between those who explode the bombs who live in the most impoverished outskirts with one of the bombers seeing the inner city for the first time on his mission to destroy it, and those who live in the Eurocentric center where wealth accrues.

White Elephant, by renowned New Argentine Film director Pablo Trapero, traces the attempts by two priests, the older one played by Ricardo Darin of the Academy Award winning Secret in Her Eyes, to ameliorate the effects of gang war and the brutality of the police on those in the inner city of Buenos Aires. The film, though good intentioned, is Trapero still trying to work out how to incorporate blockbuster melodrama, here much toned down from his previous Carancho, with the earlier neo-realism of his two great films Crane World and El Bonaerense, with this film suffering from too much of the Belgium and Spanish priests and too little of the townspeople.

Not to be left out, the U.S. is featured, the Bronx to be exact, in Adam Leon’s Gimme the Loot, an again well-intentioned story of male-female, tag-team, graffiti artists whose goal is to leave their mark on Mr. Met at Citifield, which the female character, a very engaging Tashiana Washington, who you will be hearing more of, pointedly refuses to call by its corporate name and persists in calling Shea Stadium. The trajectory of a day when all their attempts to raise the money to bribe the guardian to get access to Mr.

Met go wrong is meant to describe the frustrated life of many in this condition, but it is not quite inventive or authentic feeling and sounding enough to make its point resound.

More interesting is the first Columbian film in Cannes competition, La Playa DC,  which traces the efforts of a teenage artist, Tomas, and his two brothers to make some kind of living in a place where the streets threaten to kill his younger brother, already addicted and imbibing the drugs he is supposed to be selling, and have already deadened the older brother. Tomas finds a way to use his creativity, expressed around designs to be chiseled into hair—they are all impressed with the US hair style called, The Koby (Go Lakers)—and the film links the family’s tragedy ultimately to the death of their father at the hands of paramilitaries, in a way which suggests that the fascist militarization of the country, supported in the North as the US/Columbia War on Drugs, acts in concert with the poverty to limit its people.

Finally, we have the Algerian street scene in Repenti, which details the fate of a Muslim sect member who has committed acts of violence and who is promised redemption if he reneges on the struggle and becomes a Repenti, a repentant. Unfortunately the film is too little about the Repenti, whose character and past, accused of a bombing in which some in his village were killed, is too little examined. It instead becomes too much a kind of The Bedroom Window—middle class revenge posing as existential angst–with the introduction of a plot about a couple whose marriage is damaged by the group’s kidnapping of their daughter. The film in its middle class, more bourgie stand against terrorism also ends up validating the FLN in Algeria, the reigning powers that be, which have just been accused of rigging the last election.

Down a weirder path tread two widely different, yet in the end maybe not so different, looks at historical figures; Renoir, about the last moments of the father’s life and the moment of the sons’ becoming a director, and, Japanese director Koji Wakamatsu’s, John Milius turn in examining the quest of the militarist writer Michima’s suicide over not being able to lead Japan back to its imperial days by restoring the emperor in 11/25 The Day Mishima Chose His Own Fate. The Renoir film is a British genre, the heritage film—you know all those stolid upright Brit’s who serve the empire with tight upper lip presented in misty Merchant/Ivory shots—transplanted to France, with the heritage in this case the extreme one of the father being the greatest French painter of the 19th century and the son the greatest French director. Since it’s a French heritage film though, it’s heritage with, as the producers urge in Sullivan’s Travels, a little bit of sex, in this case in the form of the nymph-model who Renoir pere paints, nude of course, and Renoir fils falls for. The film touches on fascinating subjects such as the continuity/opposition of painting/cinema in the history of visual imagery but its heart is still in tasteful bodice ripping and in the end it does not disturb the basic mission of the heritage film which is to clean up the past and make it safe for consumption. An oddly similar cleanup occurs in Wakamatsu’s Mishima, the director and his subject here being a meeting of one of Japan’s most left directors, participant in the student movement and for a while in the subsequent Red Army, and one of its most right wing ideologues,  the renowned writer, subject of a Paul Schrader earlier biopic, whose organization of a right wing band to rearm the military Wakamatsu wonderfully situates in the context of the student protests of the late 1960s, but then relates to the equally distorted left violence of the Red Army, akin to the Weathermen in the US, in a way that, especially in the suicide sequence, seems to negate Mishima’s own brand of craziness and flatten it out.

And now the Palmes, last first. Honorable mention to Pablo Lorain’s No, the third and concluding part of the Chilean director’s Pinochet trilogy, which includes perhaps the finest description of the ways fascism penetrates working class culture in Tony Manero and a second film just released in the US Post-Mortem. No is about the plebiscite that Pinochet authorized in 1988 in which the choices were yes Pinochet or No, no one, and Pinochet lost. The film might have been a riveting story of the struggle to bring democracy back to Chile and it does not skimp on that aspect of the story, but it is much smarter, and instead focuses on the electoral campaign itself with Gale Garcia Bernal’s advertising assistant for the No opposing his boss, played by Lorain perennial Alfredo Castro, who played Tony Manero, and with both involved in selling candidates just as they sell any other product. It is Lorain’s thesis that the moment of overthrowing Pinochet was also the moment of the triumph of a kind of consumerism that in the end may be far more pernicious. The eerie moment of the triumph will echo loudly with anyone who remembers the giddiness at the moment of Obama’s triumph and the capitulation which to wax Shakespearean about it, followed hard upon as the day the night.

Green Palmare, 2nd place, to Senegalese director Mossa Toure’s Pirouge, a very quiet, very beautiful, very desperate film about Africans from Senegal making a contemporary boat journey to land in Europe that is compared to a kind of Atlantic crossing, recalling the slave journey of their African forebears, with the journey in the present provoked because the country’s natural resources, on the coast in Senegal it is fishing, have been decimated by the Europeans. Along the way, in this journey of a group in an open motor boat, the great sea sagas are recalled, including Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” where literally two ships pass, in this case another vessel like theirs where the motor has died and those aboard will not make it, a kind of eerie foreshadowing of what may happen to them. The ending, their reception in Europe, is heartbreaking and is also, in its very quiet protest and in the way it emphasizes the uncommon dignity of the main character, just right.

Palme Rose, 1st prize, Gangs of Wasseypur. What can you say about a nearly five-and-a-half-hour Indian gangster film that manages to innovatively revive the genre, not least by using it as a vehicle for outlining a history of the political economy of the country since before Independence in 1941, other than, “Bring it on.” So, bring it on. Here’s hoping for a US release of this extraordinary film that is a bridge between the popular melodrama of Bollywood and the more interior sagas of the Indian Independent cinema; think Scorsese, and you will not be far off, especially since the narrator’s continual passages about the overall exploitation of the country and the way the gang’s manipulate that exploitation and the attention paid to how their moneymaking schemes work recalls the wonderful first half of Casino, about the political economy of Vegas. Which is not to say that there are not brilliant Tarantino touches, such as the long, hilarious discussion about what the real name of the one of the gangsters who calls himself Definite is (It turns out his real name is Definite). I hope American audiences get a chance to see the film (it’s being released in India in two parts in Kill Bill fashion) because they will Definite(ly) enjoy it. Friendly hint, stay to the end, the last sequence is a Godfather-like ceremonial cleansing and also a comment, again, on the disappearing, or disappeared, nature of democracy, western and otherwise, as the bloodbath that becomes the way of resolving problems takes place on election day.

Finally, the Golden Turkey. For a film as embarrassing as it is bad, 7 Days in Havana. It must have sounded like a great idea to the fairly talented 7 directors, including Benecio del Toro and the aforementioned Pablo Trapero, who were each enlisted to make a short film that would supposedly catch the nature of an old-time, now disappearing, Havana. Unfortunately what it does instead, in sometimes painful ways, is project onto Havana old-time colonialism, which if the movie is any indication is in no way disappearing.

The problem here isn’t the directors so much as the producers, the Saatchi Ad Agency, who famously also brought you Margaret Thatcher, here acting for its client, Havana Club, the rum makers. Most of the films center on the tourist hotels and reinvigorate the colonial gaze on the inhabitants, the other whose life beyond the hotels only becomes interesting when it intersects with the guests. You will learn many interesting things from this film about Cuba, for example I did not know that, judging from the weight given to the topic by several of the episodes, much of the island is gay.

The worst of the worst of the subgroup of these films, which distorts what is a legitimate problem in Cuba, is Gaspar Noe’s thoroughly racist and colonial “Ritual” which recounts the exorcising of a woman caught with another woman in a ceremony which takes place in the jungle complete with sound track drumbeats. The major sentiment in the film, though, is that Cuba is a place of beautiful bodies and that all questions pale behind the one of how, using the Saatchi-esque gaze of the camera, to convert these bodies into global commodities. Two thumbs down, way down, on this one.

That’s my very personal Cannes roundup.

You can also read this edition of Broe on the World Film Beat in its entirety as a blog on the James Agee Cinema Circle and listen to it on Newsblaze News wire.



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Update on NECS 2012

The final program for the NECS 2012 conference in Lisbon is out.  Below you find the updated times and locations of the film festival related panels and workshops.

On Thursday we will also have an informal get-together during Session D (3.45-5:45 pm) at a café located near the conference: Restaurante Real Cafe (Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 203, 1050 Lisboa).

Thursday, 21st June 2012, 09.00 – 10.45 (Session A)
Location: FCSH – Room T15 (Tower B, 3rd floor)
Chair: Marijke de Valck (Amsterdam)

  • Dunja Jelenkovic (Versailles): Role of Politics in Selection of Film Programs – Yugoslav Documentary and Short Film Festival in the Time of Wars of 1990s
  • Ger Zielinski (Trent): On Affect and Memory Traces Circulated in and around Identity Film Festivals
  • Maria-Paz Peirano (Kent): Reconstructing films and social memory in a film archive festival: The case of the “Festival Internacional de Cine Recobrado” of Valparaíso
  • Cindy S.C. Chan (Houston): Café Lumière (2003). Taiwanese Identity between Japanese Cinema and International Film Festival

Thursday, 21st June 2012, 11.00 – 12.45 (Session B)
Location: FCSH – Room T15 (Tower B, 3rd floor)
Chair: Aida Vallejo Vallejo (Madrid)

  • Sumanta Barua/Finola Kerrigan (London): Importance and Facilitators of Networking in International Film-festivals
  • Marijke de Valck (Amsterdam): Film Business, Festival Business: The Growing Influence of Industry Partners
  • Minerva Campos (Madrid): Film Festivals’ Memory: Festivals Trademark in “Video on Demand” websites

Thursday, 21st June 2012, 13.45 – 15.30 (Session C)
Location: FCSH – Room T15 (Tower B, 3rd floor)
Chair: Ger Zielinski (Trent)

  • Dorota Ostrowska (London): International film festivals as descendants of universal exhibitions
  • Laura Rodríguez Isaza (Leeds): Touring the Film Festival Circuit: Migrating Patterns of Latin American Cinema
  • Aida Vallejo Vallejo (Madrid): Festival Dependencies. Documentary, Europe and the Crisis
  • Gavin Wilson (York): Cell Cinema Festivals: Showing, Sharing and Exhibiting Mobile Phone Films

Thursday, 21st June 2012, 15.45 – 17.30 (Session D)
Informal get-together of the NECS film festival research workgroup / FFRN at the Restaurante Real Cafe (Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 203, 1050 Lisboa).

Friday, 22nd June 2012, 09.00 – 10.45  (Session E)
Workshop – Film Festival Research Workgroup
Location: FCSH – Room T15 (Tower B, 3rd floor)
Chair: Skadi Loist (Hamburg)

  • Skadi Loist (Junior researcher, University of Hamburg, Germany, Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg)
  • Greg de Cuir, Jr. (Selector/Programmer, Alternative Film/Video Belgrade; Managing Editor, NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies)
  • Gavin Wilson (York St John University, UK, former cameramen, writer, sector manager Screen Yorkshire)

Friday, 22nd June 2012, 11.00 – 12.45 (Session F)
Location: FCSH – Room T15 (Tower B, 3rd floor)
Chair: Marijke de Valck (Amsterdam)

  • Przemyslaw Suwart (Weimar): Programming Film History at Film Festivals
  • Christel Taillibert (Nice): Film Festivals and Digitization of Motion Picture Films
  • Julian Stringer and Nikki J. Y. Lee (Nottingham): Counter-Programming and the Udine Far East Film Festival

Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 09.00 – 10.45 (Session I)
Location: FCSH – Room T14 (Tower B, 3rd floor)
Chair: Milly Buonanno (Roma)

  • Justin Smith (Portsmouth): British television and European film co-production policy
  • Rachael Keene (Portsmouth): Channel 4’s Visions: a European style of film programme?
  • Laura Mayne (Portsmouth): From Cannes to Berlin: Examining the importance of film festivals in promoting Channel 4 films in Europe
  • Anne Woods (Portsmouth): No Cannes Do
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