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Video essays and roundtable at the 70th Locarno Festival

20664083_10211254059799747_5167115746637010626_nI was very honoured to be invited by Locarno Festival Critics Academy director and festival programmer Daniela Persico (one half of the marvellous Filmidée film criticism and film education duo) to screen some recent and new video works and participate in several roundtables and workshops at this year’s festival in southern Switzerland.

Five of my audiovisual essays (see below) were curated in the Interfaces, Bodies, Gazes programme by Persico, alongside a selection of videographic works by Kevin B. Lee and Oswald Iten. The screening programme followed the Film Criticism in Motion: Audiovisual Explorations on Film round table event on August 6th, 2017, which also featured my collaborator and [in]Transition co-editor colleague Chiara Grizzaffi, who presented the trailer for the fantastic Per una controstoria del cinema italiano project.

  • The Secret Thoughts of Laura Jesson (as Voiced by Celia Johnson) (2017), 5’ 53’’
  • Beast Fables 1: “Your mother can’t be with you any more” (2017), 2’ 57’’
  • Beast Fables 4: “You should have told me, Mother” (2017), 5’ 56’’
  • Beast Fables 5: “You’re so very cruel” (2017), 2’
  • Therese & Carol & Alec & Laura (A Brief Encounter) (2015), 1’ 19’’
Screenshot from BEAST FABLES 4
Screenshot from Beast Fables 4: “You should have told me, Mother” (Catherine Grant, 2017),

New post at Birkbeck!

I am thrilled to announce that, from September 1st, 2017,  I will take up the post of Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. I will be based in the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies in the School of Arts, housed at the wonderful 43 Gordon Square building. I am thrilled to continue my association with Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (including being a member of the programming group for the annual Essay Film Festival). And I look forward very much to making new connections with research institutes and centres there, including the Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology and the Centre for Technology and Publishing.

Perfidious Albion, an Essay Film Festival programme curated by Catherine Grant and Sarah Wood

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What does it say about British identity that from as early as the 13th century foreign states have shared a single Anglophone slur to describe British double-dealings overseas? Perfidious Albion: the name for Britain when its government operates dishonourably, is treacherous, or betrays a promise.

The promise of British identity has been much discussed in the last twelve months. Two versions are in competition. Britain in the world, outward looking and open. Britain as an island nation, insular, self-interested, maybe closed. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, as Britain floats off the coast of mainland Europe and dreams its future, this programme looks at how essay filmmakers have analysed the promise represented by modern Britain and estimated to what degree the country lives up to its perfidious reputation. Curated by Catherine Grant and Sarah Wood, it features two recent works by Wood, alongside works by Derek Jarman, Humphrey Jennings, Margaret Tait, Isaac Julien and the Sankofa Film and Video Collective, and Cordelia Swann.

For further info and booking details: http://www.essayfilmfestival.com/session-10-perfidious-albion-programme-curated-catherine-grant-sarah-wood/ 

My Year’s Work in Audiovisual Essays and Videographic Film Studies

Below is a list of the thirteen videos I have made and formally published in the last twelve months. There are a few unlisted ones that I made and haven’t yet published: these should see the light of online day in the next calendar year.

It’s actually been quite a slow year for me on the production front as I had a lot of teaching as well as editorial and curatorial work at [in]TransitionREFRAME, and elsewhere. In 2017 I hope to make more research-related videos, and also to work on some longer pieces, as I am fortunate to have a six-month long paid study leave (the second such period in my twenty-five years as an academic). #newyearsresolutions.

  • SPARKLE: A tiny video-remix comparison of some glimmering audio/visual moments from Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975), The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999) and The Falling (Carol Morley, 2014). https://vimeo.com/157653540
  • THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION: A video tribute to the work of film scholar Elizabeth Cowie, featuring Morocco, Now, Voyager and Let There Be Light, as well as the voices and choices of Andrew Klevan, Christine Evans, Coral Houtman and Sarah Wood https://vimeo.com/169120246
  • MATCHES – featuring Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios / Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988) https://vimeo.com/178181337

 

 

The Day The Clangers’ Moon Stood Still: RIP Oliver Postgate 1925-2008

Clangers : The Intruder (season 1, Episode 5)

Back from its wee break, Film Studies For Free was saddened to hear of the passing of one of the DIY geniuses responsible for its author’s early fascination with the world of filmmaking: Oliver Postgate, co-creator (with Peter Firmin) of numerous magical Small Films shown on television (Bagpuss, Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Pogles, Pingwings), died peacefully in Broadstairs on the Kent coast on 8 December 2008.

Here are some Postgate weblinks:

Online Film Audio-Commentaries and Video Essays Of Note

In Film Studies For Free‘s humble opinion, one of the most exciting online areas for potential Film Studies‘ development is rapidly emerging from the already hugely popular Web 2.0 practice of video-sharing. It has never been easier to publically display work in which moving (and still) image-tracks, created by others, can be ‘overlaid’ with one’s own recorded words/sounds/text, to create web ‘video-essays’ or online ‘audio-commentaries’.

The practical/technical side of this activity should provide few challenges for the YouTube generation: the main issue to consider in relation to the educational uses of such ‘user-generated’ resources is, as ever, that of the quality of content. But there are plenty of noteworthy models around, from which Film Studies teachers and students can gain insight and inspiration, such as Susana Medina‘s excellent video essay on fetishism in the work of Luis Buñuel, embedded above (and also available on MySpace and at the Internet Archive).

To celebrate these developments, and to support them in a small way, Film Studies For Free has created a new (right-hand margin) list of links to freely accessible online audio commentaries, video essays, and ‘alternative’ DVD commentaries. The list currently links to the following websites: Shooting Down Pictures; Susana Medina, ‘Buñuel’s Philosophical Toys’; Listology List of Best Fan Commentaries (until 2005); Sean Weitner and Andy Ross on Mulholland Drive; Whiggles.com on Suspiria and Profondo Rosso; and Renegade Commentaries. Suggestions of other websites or items of this kind are, as ever, warmly welcomed.

By far the richest website resource in this area, to date, is the one at the head of FSFF‘s current list: Kevin B. Lee‘s fabulous Shooting Down Pictures. As GreenCine Daily rightfully testified back in July 2008 (when Film Studies For Free was barely a twinkle in this neophyte blogger’s eye): ‘For some time now, Kevin B Lee‘s video essays have been among the most exciting developments in film blogging, suggesting not an alternative but supplemental form of film criticism accessible to anyone online.’

Lee is a filmmaker and multimedia producer based in New York City. Shooting Down Pictures primarily serves as a repository for a wide variety of materials connected with his project of viewing every film on the list of 1000 greatest films of all time, as compiled by They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? Rather than simply writing about, or gathering pre-existing resources together for these films — both of which Lee does brilliantly, it must be said — he also makes video essays about them and commissions others to provide their own audio commentaries, including ones by such luminaries as Nicole Brenez, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Richard Brody, Karina Longworth, Andy Horbal, Mike D’Angelo, Matt Zoller Seitz, Preston Miller, Vadim Rizov, and Girish Shambu.
The current full list of video essays by Shooting Down Pictures is given below, but also check out the video index Lee maintains at YouTube where these and many other videos by him, or fabulously ‘mashed up’ by him, are hosted.

After a recent flurry of literally feverish activity, Film Studies For Free is going to take a richly-deserved, two-week break so that its cold-ridden author can become fully healthy once more, and go off to deliver a talk on her own work (which is not totally unconnected to the focus of today’s blog post, as it happens). In the meantime, FSFF leaves you with a little video essay by Lee and Dan Sallitt on another of this blog’s favourite filmmakers (alongside Buñuel), Claude Chabrol. Adieu, pour le moment…