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Posts from — January 2010

The end of Miramax

Just over thirty years after it came into existence, Miramax  studio that gave the world films like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Chicago to name a few, was shut down by Disney. Click here to access the entire report.

January 29, 2010   No Comments  

CFP: Journal of War and Culture Studies

Volume 3
Issue 2
War, Culture, Technology
Editors Martin Hurcombe and Simon Kitson
Deadline for receipt of articles: 15 February 2010
Publication date: July 2010

The aim of this issue will be to consider the ways in which cultural representations of warfare have embodied, reflected and contributed to the often problematic dialogue between science and the arts since the advent of mass, industrialized warfare in the late nineteenth century.

Issue 3: Performance and War
Editors Debra Kelly and Luke Dixon
Deadline for receipt of articles: 7 May 2010
Publication date: October 2010

The concept of the ‘theatre of war’ is both a military and a cultural one. The very essence of the dramatic situation is necessarily predicated on conflict, and war and theatre have been locked in a productive tension since the beginnings of western dramatic production. This issue will focus on how war has been represented in a variety of dramatic forms in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and on the effects of war on dramatic creativity and production. We are keen to receive papers from a drama as well as a conflict perspective.

Submission details
The Journal of War and Culture Studies is interdisciplinary and international in scope. We welcome the submission of work by both established and younger scholars in the field.

All articles should be 5,000–6,000 words in length, and
follow the Intellect style guide, available online at:

Articles should be sent as e-mail attachments to Helena Scott: H.Scott@westminster.ac.uk

January 29, 2010   No Comments  

If the Oscars were run by critics…

Nominations, predictions, surprises and catfights are usual fare in the run up to the most popular award show hosted by the Academy for Motion Pictures and Sciences. An interesting list was drawn up by the guys at TIME, that made early predictions about what film, director and actors would be honoured by the Academy if the awards were decided by critics.

I’ve linked the list of Best Picture and the votes it got here.

For the complete list, click here.

January 28, 2010   1 Comment  

Power, politics and Bollywood

Here’s an interesting article on the politics of Bollywood. Refreshing to be seen in mainstream media.

The questions to ask about a Bollywood film are not whether they are aesthetically good or bad, but how  effective they are socially and politically. Do they add strength to caste society and its institutions? Or do they promote sexual freedom and social anarchy? Artistically, Bollywood films are meaningless.


January 27, 2010   No Comments  

CFP: Cinemas of the Arab World – Wide Screen special issue

Cinemas of the Arab World
Call for papers  – special issue of Wide Screen
Editor: Latika Padgaonkar (film scholar, former Executive Editor, Cinemaya and festival director, Osian’s Cinefan Festival)

The Arab world may be bound by language and religion, but it is in no sense homogeneous, neither in its history nor in its customs. Yet, over the years, what has largely been common to many Arab countries in the field of cinema is a set of shared problems: decline in film production, closure of halls consequent to the video revolution, censorship, issues of distribution, diminishing investment, narrowing of the domestic market and the invasion of American films and television programmes, quite apart from the pervasive and longstanding influence of Egyptian cinema to which several countries were called upon to adjust in an earlier day.

For all that, a large number of Arab films have, in recent years, made a mark in the international arena. These films have been made in the face of odds – economic, material and psychological. They continue to grapple with their past and, increasingly, with their present: a past linked to their colonial experience, war and displacement, and a present that is trying to shape an identity. The colonial yoke may have been shed but the region is now battling turbulent issues of another kind.

Wide Screen attempts an engagement with cinemas of the Arab world by asking questions on a variety of topics that are pertinent to this region – from censorship to the new cinema, from the position of women to the question of identity, from the implications of foreign funding to the diversities and similarities of the cinemas of these countries.

Apart from inviting general articles that may be specific to a director, film or a theme in Arab cinema (as a whole or from a particular film culture), here are a few very broad ideas that can be incorporated in the suggestions we make to people who want to write for the journal and even as guidelines for ourselves.

  • Focus on one director – an entire section of the special issue could have articles/essays and interviews and reviews of films made by one director.
  • Censorship – articles dealing with censorship in Arab cinema. Is it just censorship of content by the state machinery, or is it also self-censorship – a kind of moral policing done socially. Is there also a censorship of form? How accepting is the audience and the state to non-linear forms? How much has that changed over the years.
  • Showcasing cinema – the rest of the world knows precious little about the cinephile culture in Arab countries despite a growing cinema culture. Examination of cinema halls, the kinds of films they showcase, box office returns etc can be interesting to look at. Furthermore, what is the kind of give-and-take with other popular cinemas, for instance Hollywood and popular Indian cinema. Do locally produced films get more popular than foreign films? What is the state and role of film festivals in Arab countries.
  • Articles dealing with Arab audience and also audience of Arab cinema
  • Identity – film cultures across the world, be they art films or popular ones have obsessed over questions of a Muslim identity ever since 9/11. How does Arab cinema engage with this question? Is Arab cinema (and within it cinemas of individual countries) put on a defensive, loaded with the notion of proving innocence? Apart from content, how does form deal with this question? The most important question here is, What is Arab cinema?
  • Women – when it comes to Arab cinema, a look at the representation and position of women in the film industry is inevitable. How many women directors are there? Are big actors ready to work with them? Are female stars paid as much as their male counterparts. Who are the directors that are working on issues relating to women. What is the kind of opposition they have to face.

Deadline for paper submission: 15 March 2009.

Papers can be submitted at: http://widescreenjournal.org/index.php/journal/about/submissions#onlineSubmissions

or emailed to: kuhutanvir@gmail.com

Author guidelines, copyright notice and other information can be accessed at: http://widescreenjournal.org/index.php/journal/about/submissions

January 23, 2010   No Comments  

The WTF movie of the year

Embedding is disallowed by our friends at Eros Entertainment. But do watch this and be amazed (link).

January 20, 2010   No Comments  

Jim Emerson’s review of Precious…

2009 was indeed a bleak year for Hollywood, not so much in terms of box office returns, but when it comes to innovative, fresh work, definitely. The awards season is upon us, and the Golden Globes were truly dismal, predicting a similar fate for the Oscars that nearly always take fewer risks and are mostly quite predictable.

One of the films that has attracted what to me seems undue attention is Lee Daniel’s Precious Based on the Novel by Sapphire. I didn’t want to give in to the ominous feelings that came up when I saw the promos, but sadly, the film remains a collage of characters, moments and situations we have seen endlessly. It fails to move out of its self congratulatory sense of greatness, and is all too aware of its project of depicting a dark American reality. The fact, however, is that this reality has been depicted many many times before, and Precious does nothing new at all. In fact, I would say the carving out of characters is at times embarrassingly naive.

The film, however, has generated many positive reviews, because as always to speak out against a film about an African American character is perceived more as a socio-political stand rather than the aesthetic one that it is. Jim Emerson has however lashed out against the film, and has written a meticulous piece on the shortcomings of the film. I don’t agree with him on the film’s comic potential, but I do endorse his critique.

Click here to read it.

January 20, 2010   1 Comment  

Thoughts on The White Ribbon

That Hollywood’s preoccupation with the Second World War, in particular the Holocaust, has resulted in an overflowing and now somewhat predictable kitty of films is something the industry is beginning to acknowledge. The past few years have seen significant interventions in the genre; the most recent example that comes to my mind is Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, the film that threw open the question ‘can we really know what happened in that history?’

A war we know even less about is the First World War. While cinema of the world hasn’t exactly ignored this ‘Great War’, it has generated far less interest in popular culture. Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke’s latest venture The White Ribbon may not quite be popular culture, but it certainly gives a haunting context to the First World War. [Read more →]

January 15, 2010   3 Comments  

Zizek Enters India

More than a year after his entry into India (through the India reprint of TSOI), Zizek arrived in India (in flesh and blood) last week to do a lecture series with Navayana publishers and for field work in the IT lands of Bangalore.

January 11, 2010   13 Comments  

Notes on 3 Idiots

There is a very good reason that I didn’t write on the much celebrated, much talked-about recent film, 3 Idiots, despite having some thoughts on it. The reason, quite simply, is my regular critique of Aamir Khan and the response it generates. While I enjoyed the film for its lighter moments, its use of comedy and some irreverent moments that are unique to popular Bombay cinema, it would have been impossible for me to ignore the glaring problems with this film. And for fear that my criticism of Aamir Khan’s constructed star persona (polite words for god complex) looks like a bad habit, I have chosen to remain somewhat in the background with this one. Luckily, I came across Jai Arjun Singh’s insightful piece on the film that appeared in Business Standard. I share his opinion to a large extent, and it can be accessed here.

January 10, 2010   No Comments