Aspects of Film Theory (Aug-Dec 2009)

Lectures every Monday at 1 pm in Room 1.4 NAC

Module Outline

10th August
Introduction: Why study films? Early beginnings of film.

17th August
We carry on with the first lecture and will also look at:
Overview of history of film up to 1950’s

31st August
Class will be in the Mediacom Studio – Faculty of Agriculture Building Phase 2 – 2nd floor.
Overview of Hollywood cinema with pictures
Overview of Hollywood cinema (without pictures)
Viewing of
– ‘Le Voyage dans la Lune’ by Georges Méliès
– ‘The Cutting Edge’, a documentary about the history of film editing

7th September
Class in the Mediacom Studio
Film Production and Anatomy of Film
Handout about the grammar of film and TV (from Daniel Chandler):
Related online resources:

14th September
From now on, class will be in the Mediacom Studio every week.
The ‘auteur’ theory
Related online resources
If you already have ideas for your short films, please bring them for discussion in class.

29th September
The Semiotic Approach to Film Studies
Reading material: Extracts from ‘Semiotics, The Basics’ by Daniel Chandler

Additional online resources

5th October
Lecture on:Psychoanalytical approach to film studies
We will watch the specific sequence from ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?´ for analysis. I will provide explanations about what is expected from you. Assignment will be due in two weeks’ time, i.e. 19th October.
All teams should also bring their initial concepts for the short feature film to be made for discussion in class.
Also, we will possibly have Mr Wassim Sookia to present some of his short feature films which have won several awards in local festivals and have also been presented at international festivals (to be confirmed).

Additional online resources related to lecture notes:
Psychoanalysis and Film by Daniel Kluge
Psychoanalysis and Film Theory Part 1: ‘A New Kind of Mirror’ by Paula Murphy
Laura Mulvey against the grain: a critical assessment of the psychoanalytic feminist approach to film by Terje Steinulfsson Skjerdal
Psychoanalysis, Film, and Television by Sandy Flitterman-Lewis

12th October
Last week, we met with local filmmaker Wassim Sookia after watching his three last films, a documentary (Once Upon a Train) and two fictions (RouzeBleZonnVer and Eros).

As we could not discuss lecture notes on the psychoanalytical approach to film, we will spend some time on this topic.

We will also view the sequence from O Brother Where Art Thou? for the assignment (deadline is now extended to 26th October). Additional viewing sessions may be organised for the whole film and for the specific sequence on demand. One possible slot was identified for Monday before the class (say, from 11.30 a.m.). Please organise your groups and liaise with the technician to view the movie.

About the short feature film: All teams should have finalised their story (please send me by email so I can have a look in advance and then bring your draft script in class for detailed discussion). You should then start working on the draft storyboard / ‘decoupage technique’ to be able to start shooting as soon as possible.

Some interesting online resources about scriptwriting and filmmaking (though I do not require a formal / rigid script):

Reminder: all teams should send me their scripts by this Thursday (15th Oct) and they should prepare also their planning for shooting by next week.
Regarding the assignment on O’Brother Where Art Thou?, each student should submit an essay by 26th October which provides a personal analysis of the identified sequence (from the appearance of the singing congregation heading towards the river while the three protagonists are talking about eating gopher until the brief meeting with Papy O’Daniel after the recording of the song at the radio station). Key elements to be looked at include (but are not restricted to) narrative, editing, sound, character development, photography, intertextuality, historical references, etc.). The essay should be fully referenced.

19th October
Cinema as an industry
We will also view the sequence from O’Brother for analysis.
All teams to bring their shooting plan for their short feature film. Those who have finalised this may start shooting during the week.
One team has not yet submitted their script. Please send to me by email or bring in class.
A series of handouts was distributed in class (about Semiotics and Psychoanalysis). Please also make sure you all have a copy of the handout from the Cahiers du Cinema about Hollywood auteurs (was distributed on 5th Oct).

Related online resources & reading material:

About Mauritius
An overview of some cinema schools
Articles about local cinema attendance

About the global cinema industry and quotas

Additional online resource (related to Feminist Psychoanalytical Approach)
Laura Mulvey’s paper ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’

26th October
Lecture on Exhibition of films.
Please don’t forget that the assignment on the sequence from O’Brother is due.
You will be allowed to to go out to shoot during class time as from 2.30 p.m. Please do not forget to bring all material you may need for your sequences and plan in advance the shots you need. Teams are encouraged to start shooting as soon as possible even during other days of the week. Also, bear in mind that Monday 2nd November will be a public holiday so we are technically left with only 3 weeks (excluding the 26th Oct) until end of semester.

Update: Deadline for assignment is maintained for today 26th October at midnight (through electronic submission) with a hard copy submission in my pigeon hole in Registry tomorrow. All later submissions will be penalised by the supplementary day.
Since next Monday is a public holiday, all teams are asked to start shooting on other days of the week (please let me know so I will try to come see you if possible). If you need material from the Mediacom Studio, please liaise with the technician.
Please send me all scripts and technical plan by email as soon as possible.

9th November
Teams are encouraged to shoot today. Please let me know when and where you are shooting. Shooting should ideally be completed within 10 days and editing should be finalised by 30th November. Please also remember you will have to submit a portfolio at the end of November for evaluation.

16th November
Teams who need to shoot, please proceed. Those who have finished shooting should start editing. You can come in the morning in addition to the afternoon slot. Please let me know if you are coming in the morning so I can come to the Mediacom Studio. Otherwise, see you in the afternoon.

I gave two sets of handouts comprising of 3 handouts (one to Neeta’s group and one to Jimmy’s group). Please make sure you all make copies for yourself.
I also returned all assignments on ‘O’Brother Where Art Thou?’ Generally speaking, most assignments were too thin in content with much plagiarism and little original analysis.

Update (24th November)
Reminder: All films should be finalised by 30th November. We will have a last session on Monday 30th November at 1 p.m. to view all films. Portfolios should also be handed in on that day.
What to include in your portfolio: Information about how you proceeded to write your script, your storyboard/technical plan, the genre/style chosen, the shooting process, the editing, difficulties encountered as well as an analysis of your final film. The contributions of each team member should be highlighted.

Update (3rd Dec): Here are the marks for the film (20 marks) and portfolio (10 marks)
Bizin Maigri – Film: 18 + Report: 5 = 23
L’Habit Ne Fait Pas Le Moine – Film: 15 + Report: 6 = 21
Dilo Dir Oui – Film: 15 + Report: 4 = 19 – 1 (penalty for late submission)* = 18
*Late submission penalty of 10% out of 30.

General remarks about the portfolio: These were quite thin and contained little analysis as well as technical information. No team actually wrote extensively about editing!

Interesting online resources

Hollywood ne fait plus rêver les cinéastes (link shared by Patrick St Pierre)

– Extracts from ‘Lost in La Mancha’ and related interviews on YouTube: (links shared by Djemillah Mourade)

The Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin) trailer

The Man with the Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov)

Best movies guides:
Greatest movies from Wikipedia
IMDB’s top 250 as voted by users
Best reviewed movies by Rotten Tomatoes
100 greatest films compiled by filmsite


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