This Day School explored the popularity of the American Western as an influence on filmmakers around the world. The case study ‘classic Western’ was Shane (US 1953) – a popular film embodying some of the most important ideas and values found in the American Western.
The aim of the day was to focus on the themes and story structures of the American Western, focusing on the work of two structuralist critics from the 1960s and 1970s, Jim Kitses and Will Wright.
The day was also intended to prepare the ground for a second day school that will look at Westerns produced outside the US. Watch out for details of the follow up.
The notes for the day can be downloaded as a pdf here: Western Day School Notes
This Day School followed the screenings of The Second Mother and Güeros earlier in the programme. The day explored themes and approaches to filmmaking across Latin America with a full screening of Las acacias (Argentina/Spain 2011).
These three films from Brazil, Mexico and Argentina represent the output of the three biggest film industries in the region but there has also been an upsurge in the smaller industries of Chile, Columbia and Venezuela in the last few years as well as films from Ecuador and Uruguay. Cuba remains important as the home of the principal Film Festival in the region in Havana as well as a possible training and education centre for Latin American filmmakers. In many cases, local productions are made as part of co-production deals with Spain. The existence of a large and growing Hispanic market in the United States is also an important factor for many productions.
Latin America, alongside East Asia is one of the parts of the world where film audiences as well as the number of local productions are growing. The day will try to distinguish some of the main genres and themes of recent Latin American Cinema as well as discussing Las acacias in detail as an example of a film from a first time filmmaker that impressed festival audiences all around the world.
The notes for the day school can be downloaded here as a pdf: Latin America Day School Notes
Jafar Panahi is one of four Iranian filmmakers who have helped to establish Iranian art cinema with audiences across the globe. (The others are Abbas Kiarostami, Asghar Farhadi and Mohsen Makhbalmaf with his other family members.) Panahi stands out because he has remained in Iran and taken on the government censors with hard-hitting films. As a result he has been arrested and has faced severe restrictions. His earlier films were heavily influenced by neo-realism but since his ‘house arrest’ he has had to develop new ways of making films. The tragedy is that although the films have won prizes at international festivals, it has proved very difficult to put them in front of Iranian audiences.
This one hour ‘illustrated talk’ will explore Jafar Panahi’s career, looking at extracts from his films and providing the background knowledge to gain most from his 2003 film Crimson Gold, screened in full.
Crimson Gold is scripted by Abbas Kiarostami and based on a real set of events involving a pizza delivery man in Tehran. Beginning with a dramatic incident, the film then explores why events turned out that way and in particular how the pressures within Iranian society affect many ordinary Iranians.
Jafar Panahi Filmography
Taxi Tehran (2015)
Closed Curtain (2013)
This Is Not a Film (2011)
Crimson Gold (2003)
The Circle (2000)
The Mirror (1997)
The White Balloon (1995)
Films are made all over the world but the most widely seen are those intended either for commercial release in mainstream cinemas or on the international film festival circuit. This means that they follow certain widely understood conventions. But what of films produced in countries with few, if any, cinemas? Or films made from within communities with only limited connections to the mainstream cultures of West or East? Are we forced to ‘read’ them through the critical faculties we apply to Western films? Do we worry about finding them ‘exotic’? Do we underestimate the vision and imagination of local filmmakers? The Day School will explore several different filmmaking approaches from Africa, Asia and Indigenous Australian Cinema (such as Ten Canoes, Australia 2006 – see the image above) that attempt to allow local peoples and local cultures to present themselves as they might wish to be seen. We’ll also consider the barriers faced by these productions.
(Please note there will not be a full screening as part of this event. We will, however, discuss aspects of Timbuktu (France/Mauritania 2014) screened on Wednesday 18 (Kala Sangam) and Thursday 19 November (Dean Clough) and we will introduce Theeb – to be screened on Wednesday December 2nd at Kala Sangam and December 10th at Dean Clough).