Undergraduate

Film and Screen Studies involves historical, textual and critical approaches to film and television, and related video and new screen technologies. Film and Screen Studies subjects cover Australian, Asian and European national cinemas, earlier and contemporary popular Hollywood and its institutions, alternative film and video, documentary film, Australian television, popular television genres, online screen forms, and video practice.

Emphasis is given to a variety of historical, critical and theoretical methods of analysis appropriate to the study of the moving image, including formal, semiotic and psychoanalytic approaches, institutional, reception and cultural studies approaches, consideration of issues to do with the intersection of ideology and culture, the representation of gender, race and class, and questions concerning the relations between film and television and new technologies.

FSS Program Map (2014)

What can you expect from a Film and Screen Studies unit?

While detailed information on all of our subjects can be located within the current handbook, here are some ideas of what to expect in units offered at first, second and third year.

ATS1304 – Introduction to Television Studies

Employing textual criticism, critical theory and theories of political economy, this unit introduces students to a variety of approaches to the study of television. Students will consider the phenomenon of television through a critical approach to the forms specific to broadcast television through an understanding of recent theories relating to popular culture. These include issues of history, genre, context , consumerism and audiences. Attention will also be given to the cultural and economic forces that shape and are reflected in the structuring of television programs and networks. As part of their assessment, students create a critical audio commentary that closely examines one scene from a television series.

(Audio Commentary by Julia Kaddatz)

ATS2535 – Storytelling in Film and Television: From Classical Narrative to Art Cinema

This unit analyses texts that are representative of the stylistic diversity found in film and television. Students are encouraged to develop awareness of film and televisual form and style, and of how communication is organised within certain structured ways. The areas of film and television used to exemplify topics will be major innovatory phases including the development of film form in the continuity editing system 1895-1920, Russian formal experiments in the 1920s, alternative formal systems in Asian film, and post-war developments, including Italian neo-realism, European art cinema, avant-garde film, Third World filmmaking, and contemporary Hollywood and World film and television. As part of their assessment, students use the knowledge developed in this unit to produce entries for a Directory of Contemporary Cinema.

Here are some examples of work produced in 2014:

Barbour, Amanda. Godzilla, dir. Gareth Edwards

Batsakis, Joanna. Jealousy, dir. Phillipe Garrel

ATS3969 – Film and Television in the Digital Era

This unit provides an opportunity for students to critically reflect on the key critical approaches and concepts in film and television studies with a focus on new technologies and digital cultures. Students will look at the theoretical and critical issues arising from changes to the field in the digital era as they apply to a wide range of new screen medias. Assessment for this unit includes a creative research project that provides students with advanced training in research skills and methodologies in preparation for Honours and employment in creative industries.

(Video project by Gena Furze, Honeylyn Lisson, Kelly Jung Eun Kim and Elly Caldwell)

What our students say

“I think people underestimate the academic credibility of Film & Screen Studies. Visual culture has the capacity to reflect not only who we are, but also how we want to see ourselves. For example; as far as Hollywood is concerned, if anyone is going to save the world they will probably be American. Through cinema you can see social change. While the course has an academic foundation there’s room for creative licence. Lecturers encourage you to pursue films or subject matter which appeals to you, thus you are not bound by the curriculum and have the freedom to explore your own interests.” (Mandy Barbour, current student)

 

  • Honours

    Honours studies in this area will advance students’ knowledge and competencies in the discipline of…

  • Higher Degree Research and Postgraduate Study

    Research Film and Screen Studies offers supervision in the following areas: alternative film and video American…

Honours

Honours studies in this area will advance students’ knowledge and competencies in the discipline of film and screen studies.

Students are required to complete 48 points of study including a thesis, a compulsory coursework unit and one elective coursework unit. Students may also be required to attend a short methodology course. The coursework units and the thesis topic are chosen in consultation with the film and screen studies honours coordinator.

Recent thesis topics have included:

Bad Men: American Masculinity and Post-Masculinity in Popular Quality Television and Online Audiences

Women Horror Filmmakers, Gendered Spectatorship and a New Wave of Filmmaking

Surf Movies: Innovation, Evolution and Nostalgia

Representations or Reality: Constructing and Deconstructing Stereotypes of Aboriginal Men in Australian Cinema

Changi(ng) History: Memory and the Experience of a Nation

Hornbags and Heroes: The Suburban Grotesque in Australian Film and Television

Searching the Soul of Neoliberalism: Postfeminism, the Pursuit of Happiness and Redeeming Ally McBeal

Investigating Women: Neurodivergence and New Femininities in Homeland and The Bridge

Narrative Form and Interactivity in the Modern Videogame

Good Witches and Bad Bitches: Maternity and Women’s Villainy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Somewhere between a waitress and a mother”: Mad Men and Mothers

Teen-Machines: Teen TV and the representation, consumption and regulation of teenage sexuality

Syd’s Field Day: Industrial and Theoretical Approaches to Screenwriting

Love Our Way: The Secret Life of Spirited Women in Contemporary Television.

Storytelling in Contemporary American Cable Drama

What can you expect in coursework units?

While detailed information on current coursework units can be located within the current handbook, this is what students completed in 2014:

ATS4280 – Contemporary Film Theory

This is primarily a reading unit that will consider aspects of film theory since 1975. A major portion of the unit will be devoted to the debates around modernism and post-modernism as they relate to film studies. Other areas of investigation include: textual analysis, feminist film theory, historical poetics, historical reception studies, queer film theory, and the impact of the cultural studies and Cinema books of Gilles Deleuze. Film texts for exploration will include those from Australian, American, European and Asian cinemas. As part of their assessment, students produce entries for an Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Film Concepts. 

Here are some entries produced:

Wham, James. Hong Kong New Wave

 

Higher Degree Research and Postgraduate Study

Research

Film and Screen Studies offers supervision in the following areas:

  • alternative film and video
  • American film
  • Asian film (Indonesian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Hong Kong, Indian)
  • Australian film and television
  • documentary film studies
  • European film (especially French cinema)
  • film aesthetics (form, style, narrative)
  • film and television genre studies
  • film history
  • histories of film theory and criticism
  • international film cultures and institutions
  • teen film and television
  • women and cinema
  • women and television
Our recent submissions and completions:

Chaplin, Felicity (PhD). La Parisienne in Cinema. Supervisors: Adrian Martin and Phillip Anderson

Edwards, Daniel (PhD). Alternative Visions, Alternative Publics: Contemporary Independent Chinese Documentary as a Public Sphere. Supervisors: Olivia Khoo and Deane Williams

Frost, Craig (PhD). “Want to play a game?” torture porn, violence, media convergence and spectatorship. Principal Supervisor: Therese Davis

Honig, Michael (PhD). Ghosts of modernity: the J-horror cycle. Supervisors: Deane Williams and Constantine Verevis

Kannas, Alexia (PhD). All the colours of the dark: Genre, modernity and the Italian Giallo Film. Supervisors: Adrian Martin and Deane Williams

Lew, Catherine (MA). Spectacular Bodies, Anatomical Curio and One-Armed Wonders On Screen: A Focus on Representations of Disability in Asian Cinema. Supervisors: Olivia Khoo and Belinda Smaill

Loreck, Janice (PhD). Difficult subjects: women, violence and subjectivity in distinguished cinema. Supervisors: Belinda Smaill and Claire Perkins

Masukor, Sarinah (PhD). Alternate Weathers: How the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan think about nature and technology. Supervisors: Adrian Martin and Claire Perkins

McQueen, Sean (PhD). Biocapitalism and Schizophrenia. Supervisors:  Andrew Milner, Claire Perkins, and Alison Ross

Monaghan, Whitney (PhD). Not ‘just a phase': Queer girls in contemporary screen media. Supervisors: Therese Davis, Claire Perkins and Olivia Khoo

Letizi, Roberto (PhD). The void of experience: moments of musical rupture in cinema. Principal Supervisor: Deane Williams

Soehadi, Gaston (PhD). Teguh Karya: A Film Auteur Working within a Collective. Supervisors: Olivia Khoo and David Hanan

Stevens, Kirsten (PhD). See it at a festival near you: the film festival as exhibition practice in Melbourne, 1952-2012. Supervisors: Adrian Martin and Constantine Verevis

Tutton, Charles (PhD). The digital apparatus: reimagining cinema in new media. Supervisors: Deane Williams and Constantine Verevis

Woodyard, Andrew (MA). The Romantic Comedy Genre. Supervisors: Deane Williams and Belinda Smaill

Postgraduate Activities

Under Construction Seminar Series

Under Construction is the School of Media, Film and Journalism seminar series run by postgraduates for postgraduates. Meeting on the first Monday of every month during semester, this series provides a great opportunity to interact with other postgrads and hear about all of the exciting work that is being done within the school.

New Directions in Screen Studies: A National Conference for Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers in Screen Studies

New Directions in Screen Studies is a two-day conference for postgraduates and early career researchers (ERCs) in Screen Studies. The conference will be held in 2015. It will provide a forum for new researchers to showcase their work before their peers and develop professional links across campuses around the country and beyond.

Peephole Journal

Peephole is an online film journal devoted to creative screen criticism. It regularly features articles by current and previous students at postgraduate and honours level. 

 

 

  • Undergraduate

    Film and Screen Studies involves historical, textual and critical approaches to film and television, and…

  • Honours

    Honours studies in this area will advance students’ knowledge and competencies in the discipline of…

India In Flux: Living Resistance presented at MIFF

 Shweta Kishore.
Shweta Kishore.

India In Flux: Living Resistance at Melbourne International Film Festival 2014 is the first public presentation of a curated Indian documentary film programme in Australia.

Co-curator Shweta Kishore said the project was motivated by the desire to expand knowledge and appreciation of Indian screen cultures amongst Australian audiences.

“The programme presents a stirring vision of social resistance and struggle, authored by filmmakers who work in multiple geographical and production settings,” Ms Kishore said.

“The curation takes a historical approach to documentary cinema and includes imaginative expressions of cinematic language as well as new ways of relating to the traditional documentary subject, the ‘victim’ or subaltern.

“Comprising of six feature length and one medium length documentary film, the curation is interested in works that devise original cinematic idioms to engage with their political concerns.”

Ms Kishore said the programme extended to two filmmaker events, Currents of Dissent, a panel discussion with filmmakers Deepa Dhanraj and Anand Patwardhan, and film critic Meenakshi Shedde, about the structures and issues that are central to this cinema and its practitioners.

“The second event, a Documentary Directing Master Class with Anand Patwardhan offers an intensive engagement with the conceptual approach and film techniques of one of the world’s foremost political filmmakers’,” she said.

“As documentary cinema is in the midst of global churning and new players and agendas attach to the form, the capacity for this practice to maintain autonomy lies in plurality; dispersal of production sites and distributed modes of production and exhibition.

“Indian documentary cinema in its pluralistic dispersed and improvised mode of operation represents a valuable model for the survival of independent cinematic vision.”

Film titles: Children of the Pyre, Invoking Justice, Jai Bhim Comrade, John and Jane, My Name Is Salt, Quarter number 4/11, Tomorrow We Disappear, Vertical City

The programme is curated by Shweta Kishore, PhD Candidate, School of Media, Film and Journalism and supported by Monash University.

 

  • Face of AIDS and HIV: an international film archive

    The School of Media, Film and Journalism is proud to host a special preview of Transmission: The Journey…

  • Remapping Indigenous Filmmaking

    Dr Therese Davis and Dr Romaine Moreton present findings from their recently completed Screen Australia Research and Publication Partnership Program project and launch the new Australian Indigenous Film and Television Digital Bibliography.

  • Events

    Film and Television Studies ‘Under Construction’ Seminar Series 2012 Convened by Associate Professor Adrian Martin Download recordings…

The Journey from AIDS to HIV

The School of Media, Film and Journalism hosted a fascinating preview of Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV on Wednesday, July 16 at Monash University’s MADA building at Caulfield.

Staffan Hildebrand offers insight into his extraordinary film.
Staffan Hildebrand offers insight into his extraordinary film.

Film director Staffan Hildebrand has collected film material, captured between 1986-2013, on HIV/AIDS. The film captures the difficulties during the 1980s and progresses to 2013, which highlights the improvements in HIV treatment and longevity.

Hildebrand answered questions after the preview, which highlighted the depth of work and its target audience for AIDS 2014.

Hildebrand has been filming the HIV/AIDS epidemic since 1986, and is the founder and producer of the Face of AIDS film archive housed at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Staffan Hildebrand  (left) with Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.
Staffan Hildebrand (left) with Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.

Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV was commissioned for AIDS 2014, the meeting of the  International AIDS Society to be held in Melbourne, 21-25 July 2014.

This film is a centerpiece for the conference that will engage delegates, HIV/AIDS professionals and the general population by exploring how the Australian response  was coordinated
across political and ideological boundaries and driven by the community but why today,  young people continue to be at risk of HIV.

Staffan Hildebrand (left) with producer Daniel Brace.
Staffan Hildebrand (left) with producer Daniel Brace.

It introduces us to many of the characters who have been influential over the three decades of the fight against HIV and AIDS.

It contains original never before seen historical footage from the Face of AIDS archive, along with new interviews from contrasting countries in the Asia Pacific region and how there is the real possibility of the virtual elimination of the transmission of HIV, and the hope that a cure or vaccine might yet be found.

Yet there are still a range of challenges that need to be overcome.

The Face of AIDS film project raises important questions about the role of documentary and life stories in medical research.

 

Face of AIDS and HIV: an international film archive

The School of Media, Film and Journalism is proud to host a special preview of Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV.

The screening will be introduced by Staffan Hildebrand and followed by a Q&A mediated by Associate Professor Mia Lindgren on Wednesday, July 16 from 6pm to 7.30pm at Monash University’s MADA building at Caulfield.

Staffan Hildebrand with the 700 hours of unedited documentary  film material captured between 1986-2013 on HIV/AIDS.
Staffan Hildebrand with the 700 hours of unedited documentary film material captured between 1986-2013 on HIV/AIDS.

Staffan Hildebrand has been filming the HIV/AIDS epidemic since 1986, and is the founder and producer of the Face of AIDS film archive housed at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

In addition to several feature films, all box office hits in Sweden, Staffan’s
documentary films on HIV/AIDS have featured at many international AIDS conferences and form an important record of the global impact of HIV/AIDS.

Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV was commissioned for AIDS 2014, the meeting of the  International AIDS Society to be held in Melbourne, 21-25 July 2014.

This film is a centerpiece for the conference that will engage delegates, HIV/AIDS professionals and the general population by exploring how the Australian
response was coordinated across political and ideological boundaries and driven by the community but why today,  young people continue to be at risk of HIV.

It introduces us to many of the characters who have been influential over the three decades of the fight against HIV and AIDS.

It contains original never before seen historical footage from the Face of AIDS archive, along with new interviews from contrasting countries in the Asia Pacific region and how there is the real possibility of the virtual elimination of the transmission of HIV, and the hope that a cure or vaccine might yet be found.

Yet there are still a range of challenges that need to be overcome.

The Face of AIDS film project raises important questions about the role of documentary and life stories in medical research.

These and other questions about this historic collaboration between a filmmaker
and the medical sciences will be discussed in a Q&A following the screening.

To view the event flier, click here.

 

 

  • India In Flux: Living Resistance presented at MIFF

    India In Flux: Living Resistance at Melbourne International Film Festival 2014 is the first public…

  • Remapping Indigenous Filmmaking

    Dr Therese Davis and Dr Romaine Moreton present findings from their recently completed Screen Australia Research and Publication Partnership Program project and launch the new Australian Indigenous Film and Television Digital Bibliography.

  • Events

    Film and Television Studies ‘Under Construction’ Seminar Series 2012 Convened by Associate Professor Adrian Martin Download recordings…

Monash’s hidden boutique cinema

By Ye Yuan

On the sixth floor of the B building, not accessible via the commonly used escalators, lies a mysteriously hidden boutique cinema.

Stepping on to the sixth floor was like walking into another dimension. The usual student clutter of desks and computers is replaced by fibrously painted white studios either filled with rows of easels or strangely beautiful objects.

The Grandmaster.
The Grandmaster.

It’s a perfect fit for Monash Film department’s newly renovated cinema, where Associate Professor Deane Williams plans to hold monthly showcases of alternative films that are hard to find in commercial cinemas.

For its opening screening this week, Associate Prof Williams chose the recent martial arts filmThe Grandmaster, by famed Hong-Kong second-wave filmmaker Wong Kar-wai. “In film studies, Wong Kar-wai’s a big name,” says Prof Williams.

“We use quite a few of his films in our teaching. “Everyone’s talking about this film as a ‘back to form’; My Blueberry Nights, his previous film, was not received so well and did poorly at the box office.”

Mostly known for his portrayal of drama and romance, this is Wong’s first dabbling in the realm of martial arts.

grandmaster
The Grandmaster.

“In recent years, one of the things people have been saying is that martial arts films have become a bit predictable and what Wong’s done … was turned it into a very epic and highly stylized choreographed film, which seems to be less about the fighting then about the way in which they are represented,” Associate Prof Williams said.

“One of the key scenes is … it’s not a fight scene, the Grandmaster Yip Man is trying to knock a cake out of his hand … so it’s more about the choreographing, the shooting and the very complicated special arrangements that he constructs with his camera and editing.”

Critics have found many technical pleasures in the film.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine said: “You leave this deeply flawed, deeply beautiful film with no doubt that you’ve seen an indisputable cinematic grandmaster in action.”

However, martial arts fans might be sorely disappointed as the film is less about the action and more about the artistic depiction of the action.

The new film venue at Monash was previously used as a video promotions studio. With the arrival of the digital age, the room’s function was rendered obsolete, and it had been out of use for five or six years before being rediscovered and revamped by the film department.

Films to be shown will usually run as supplementary to course content, providing students with further insight on key issues.

Future screenings on the list include the Pussy Riot documentary, Made in America and Sweet Grass 

 

Remapping Indigenous Filmmaking

Event – Remapping Indigenous Filmmaking: Beyond the Remote-Urban Divide

Monday, May 19 from 1-2.30pm @Caulfield Campus – H Building, Room H8.05

Dr Therese Davis and Dr Romaine Moreton present findings from their recently completed Screen Australia Research and Publication Partnership Program project and launch the new Australian Indigenous Film and Television Digital Bibliography.

Abstract: Colonialist classification systems of Indigenous identity have a long and contentious history in Australia. In recent years official use of race-based and blood-quotom systems have been replaced by the remote-urban divide, famously illustrated by Australian historian C.D. Rowley in The Remote Aborigines (1972) as a way of dividing ‘remote’ Indigenous Australians from those who live on the ‘settled’ side of the ‘frontier’.

Image: Romaine Moreton on the set of her short film The Oysterman.  Picture: Heidrun Lohr
Romaine Moreton on the set of her short film The Oysterman. Picture: Heidrun Lohr

The ‘Rowley Line’, as it is known, has been described as a geographic representation of the ‘frontier within the Australian psyche’ that continues to shape non-Indigenous Australia’s understanding of Indigenous Australia and perpetuate colonialist fantasises of Indigenous spatial and temporal distance from the modern world.

This project analysed the impact of the remote-urban divide on the production and receptions of Indigenous screen content from government inquiries and media polices to funding determinations, film and television programming, marketing, press reviews and audience expectations.

Their analysis of the complex network of Indigenous screen producers that crosses state and national boundaries and includes a broad range of filmmaking methods provides a dynamic countermap of Indigenous filmmaking and its place in the contemporary media landscape.

The seminar will be followed by a launch of the Australian Indigenous Film and Television Digital Bibliography a unique online resource where students, teachers, researchers, filmmakers and members of the public can access a wide range of sources of information about Australian Indigenous Film and Television hosted by Monash Arts online.

Biography: Romaine Moreton was recently appointed as a Research Fellow/ Filmmaker-in-Residence in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University. She is from the Goenpul Jagara people of Stradbroke Island and the Bundjulung people of northern New South Wales.

She was awarded a PhD from the University of Western Sydney in 2007. She is also an internationally recognised writer of poetry, prose and film. She wrote and directed the award winning short The Farm (2009), screened on ABC-TV in the “New Blak” series and The Oysterman (2013) to be broadcast in 2014 as part of the “Flashblack” series.

She has published articles on Indigenous film and television in Screening the Past and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.

Therese Davis is Head of the Film and Screen Studies program. She is the author of The Face on the Screen: Death Recognition and Spectatorship (Intellect, 2004) and co-author with Felicity Collins of Australian Cinema After Mabo (Cambridge University Press, 2004). Therese DavisShe has published widely on Australian Indigenous film and television in journals such as Camera Obscura, Studies in Australasian Cinema, Screening the Past, Continuum and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.

Davis and Moreton are currently working together on the ARC funded project “Australian Indigenous Film and Television: New Frames of Understanding” (2014-16) with Associate Professor Chris Healy from Melbourne University.

Click here for the Australian Indigenous Film and Television Digital Bibliography

 

Special screening of The Grandmaster

Associate Professor Dean Williams.
Associate Professor Dean Williams.

In a new special screening season, Monash University’s Film and Screen Studies presents The Grandmaster by Wong Kar-Wai.

The Grandmaster is Wong’s latest film, a highly stylised and narratively sophisticated recent return to form, following the unfair and universal panning of his previous “American” feature Blueberry Nights  (2007) Wong’s film is a biopic of Ip Man, the founder of wing chun kung fu and mentor to Bruce Lee.

Monash Film and Screen Studies Associate Professor Deane Williams will provide a scholarly introduction to the film.

The Grandmaster will be shown in B6.31 from 4pm to 6.30pm on Wednesday, May 7.

For further details contact: claire.perkins@monash.edu and deane.williams@monash.edu

 

Monash cinema experts in Seattle

Three Monash Film and Screen Studies academics presented at the SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media Studies) 2014 Seattle Conference recently, showcasing the latest research in their field.

Associate Professor Con Verevis.
Associate Professor Con Verevis.

Associate Professor Con Verevis convened a panel titled “Contemporary Issues in Cinematic Remaking.”

The panel – chaired by Sean O’Sullivan (Ohio State University) – consisted on three presenters: Frank Kelleter (Freie Universität Berlin) on “The Remake as Pop-Art: Gus Van Sant’s Psycho and the Franchise That Knew Too Much,” Kathleen Loock (Freie Universität Berlin) on “Hollywood’s Franchise Era and the Logic of Remaking,” and Associate Professor Verevis on “New Millennial Remakes.”

The panel respondent was Jennifer Forrest (Texas State University, San Marcos).

Associate Professor Verevis will continue his work on new millennial remakes – and discussions with colleagues Kelleter and Loock – during a visiting fellowship at Freie Universität Berlin in June-July of this year.

Dr Belinda Smaill delivered a paper titled “Animals, Labour and the New Documentary Cinema of the Long Take.”

PRATO2
Dr Belinda Smaill.

This research is a component of a larger project on animals, ecology and documentary film.

“My paper contributed to the evolving field of Environmental Film and Media Studies that was specifically represented at SCMS by a new network of scholars in the form of a  “special interest group” (of which there are many at SCMS – providing a way for scholars to meet),” Dr Smaill said.

“With more than 1500 delegates, this was a substantial conference that offered an opportunity for exposure to key debates and new work in the field(s).”

And Dr Claire Perkins organised a pre-constituted panel titled “Indie Reframed: Women and Contemporary American Independent Cinema”.

Dr Claire Perkins.
Dr Claire Perkins.

“This panel previewed research to be published in the forthcoming edited collection of the same name, co-edited by Claire with fellow panel presenters Michele Schreiber (Emory University) and Linda Badley (Middle Tennessee State University),” Dr Perkins said.

“The collection seeks to examine and promote the work and experience of female practitioners in the male-dominated indie sector, where industry and criticism alike continue to cultivate “maverick” auteurs as the face and brand of the discourse.”

Dr Perkins’s contribution to the panel examined the case of Seattle-based filmmaker Lynn Shelton, director of films including Humpday (2009), Your Sister’s Sister (2011) and Laggies (2014).

Internationally renowned indie scholars Chris Holmlund (University of Tennessee) and Yannis Tzioumakis (University of Liverpool) acted respectively as chair and respondent for the panel.

 

Composing for the Australian screen

A public lecture by renowned Australian composer Mary Finsterer followed by a screening of the historical drama South Solitary (2010), directed by the award-winning Shirley Barrett, starring Miranda Otto, and with music by Finsterer.

In this lecture, Finsterer will speak to the collaborative nature of composing music for film and her personal experience of working on South Solitary, a unique Australian woman’s story set in in the wake of World War 1 on a remote lighthouse island off the coast of Tasmania.

Very much ‘a women’s film’, South Solitary was produced by a team of women in key creative roles, including production, direction, script, editing, cinematography and music.

The lecture will be followed by a screening of the film and a Q and A with the composer.

Mary Finsterer is recognized as one of Australia’s most original orchestral composers.

Professor Mary Finsterer.
Professor Mary Finsterer.

Her work has won many international awards, including the prestigious Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize in 2009 for her work inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, In Praise of Darkness.

Finsterer has also composed for many electro–acoustic events and films, including composing alongside Marco Beltrami for the blockbuster movie Die Hard 4.

Mary Finsterer  is currently a Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow at Monash University.

The music for South Solitary has been released on the CD label, ABC Classics/Universal.

 

Cultural specificity in Indonesian film

 David Hanan writes of his work on Indonesian film

My work on Indonesian cinema has focused on cultural specificity.

In contrast to Karl Heider’s 1992 book I do not attempt to define a “national culture” but see Indonesia as a multi-ethnic, society where even filmmakers working in the early 1950s, making films after the achievement of independence at the end of 1949, saw themselves as also working at a sub-national level, and set out to address the specificity of regional societies and regional cultures.

In this short talk I will take two examples of films made in and about the matrilineal society of the Minangkabau in West Sumatra, Djayakusuma’s Harimau Tjampa (“The Tiger from Tjampa”, 1953) and Asrul Sani’s Para Perintis Kemerdekaan (Pioneers of Freedom, 1979), illustrating the way in which traditional cultural elements from the particular society are incorporated in the first film, and how regional history at a time of change in the society is projected in the second.

Both films address the issue of how dialogue and solidarity is achieved, even within a conflicted community, via pre-national local traditions, some of which were incorporated within state ideologies by Sukarno and others.

 

David Hanan.
David Hanan.

David Hanan pioneered the Film and Television Studies program at Monash, being the sole Lecturer in the area between 1978 and 1989.

Between 1990 and 1994 he was the Head of the growing FTV section, within the Department of Visual Arts, at the time of the appointment of two more lecturers.

He has researched film in Indonesia since 1983, and his work has included the subtitling of some fifteen Indonesian films, initially at the request of the Indonesian National Film Council, including seven films for screening in a retrospective at MOMA in New York in the mid 1990s, and a film screened in a retrospective at Cannes in 2012.

In 1985 he became Company Secretary of the new organisation formed to renew the Melbourne International Film Festival, and also its South East Asian consultant, and from this position he was involved in numerous cultural relations projects with Indonesian filmmakers, resulting in growing industry links with Australia.

In 1998 he was asked by SEAPAVAA (South East Asia Pacific Audio Visual Archive Association) to be the editor of a book in which local critics, archivists and film programmers would write about film in their own countries, and this resulted in the first book to address the history of filmmaking in the SE Asian region, Film in South East Asia: Views from the Region (Vietnam Film Institute, Hanoi, 2001).

At Monash over the last decade he has introduced the first video production unit, “From Film Theory to Video Practice”, and also established a DVD distribution centre in the Monash Asia Institute, which distributes Indonesian films internationally, to schools and to universities worldwide.

He has supervised 11 postgraduate research theses, a substantial number of them being PhDs by postgrads from Asian countries.

His students hold or have held lecturing positions in Film Studies at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Jadavpur University in Calcutta, Shanghai University, Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, the University of Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Teknologi Mara in KL and Griffith University in Brisbane.

He is currently completing a lengthy book on cultural specificity in Indonesian cinema.

 

B is for Bad Cinema

Cover-image-Monash University’s Film and Screen Studies experts, Dr Claire Perkins and Associate Professor Con Verevis, have co-edited a new book, B is for Bad Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics and Cultural Value.

SUNY Press has released the 274-page book, which is available in hard copy and electronic copy.

Preview:

What counts as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in cinema? How should film studies approach and understand a film that is ‘bad’ to some people and ‘good’ to others?

Can there be an objective component in determinations of ‘bad’ and ‘good’, or are such judgements entirely subjective and impressionistic?

How do ‘badness’ and ‘goodness’ collide, converge, supplement each other, complement each other, or perhaps annihilate each other in particular films or groups of films?

The chapters in this book spring from such questions around taste and value to consider unworthy cinema – that is, aesthetically and/or morally disreputable film work – and mark out the broad contours of bad cinema.


Editors’ profiles

Dr Claire Perkins.
Dr Claire Perkins.

Claire Perkins is Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

She is the author of American Smart Cinema and the coeditor (with Verevis) of Film Trilogies: New Critical Approaches

Constantine Verevis is Associate Professor in Film and Television Studies at Monash University.

Associate Professor Con Verevis
Associate Professor Con Verevis

His previous books include Australian Film Theory and Criticism, Volume 1: Critical Positions(coauthored with Noel King and Deane Williams); Second Takes: Critical Approaches to the Film Sequel(coedited with Carolyn Jess-Cooke), also published by SUNY Press; and Film Remakes.

For more information on B is for Bad Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics and Cultural Value, click here.

 

Wigs, tans, boobs: American hustling for Oscars

By Dr Claire Perkins

Dr Claire Perkins.
Dr Claire Perkins.

“Some of this actually happened.” So reads the non-committal title card that precedes the opening scene of David O’Russell’s sixth feature, American Hustle (2013) – a film nominated for 10 Oscars at the 2014 Academy Awards.

The title card indicates how the bones of American Hustle’s plot lie in the FBI anti-corruption operation known as Abscamthat ran between 1978 and 1980. In this highly racist scheme, the FBI enlisted the assistance of a well-known conman in employing fake Arab sheiks to dupe US congressmen and senators into accepting money for various illegal activities. Those officials were later arrested on bribery and conspiracy charges.

Unsurprisingly, O’Russell has opted to gloss over the bureaucratic facts of this operation in favour of a focus on five strong characters in a painstakingly recreated New York and New Jersey of the late 1970s. For numerous commentators the result is too slight an achievement to bear the weight of being the most nominated film in the 2014 Academy Award season.

American Hustle is seen merely as a group of big name stars flaunting their costumed bodies, as College Humor’s Honest Titles for 2014’s Oscar-nominated Movies poster neatly sums up.

But why should such a spectacle not be award-worthy? The Oscars is an institution that values performance above everything, and American Hustle is a film whose very essence lies in the performative.

In O’Russell’s hands the Abscam operation becomes an ethical meditation on how to survive in a world where one’s options are limited, and to this end each character reinvents his or her self in a performed role that is founded upon behaving illicitly towards others.

To hustle is to survive, and everyone is hustling someone — whether by assuming an aristocratic British identity to lure desperate people into fake loan agreements (Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser/ Lady Edith Greensly) or by threatening to expose a husband’s illegal operations if he tries to divorce you (Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld).

The drama of the narrative is based on the cracks that start to open up between these brash roles and the “real” humans beneath, and is situated most emphatically in the guilt that central conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) feels upon developing a genuine friendship with the New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) who is the main pawn in the FBI operation.

For each character, one persona is constantly visible in another, and the slippage between them casts the film as a strong character piece – more than just a “comedy caper”.

But the real achievement of American Hustle lies in the way this interest with personal transformation and reinvention is matched by the performance of the five lead actors, who all visibly put on their roles as though dressing in drag.

Each plays against type, meaning against the star-image that has been constructed for them on the basis of their appearance in other roles and in extra-textual arenas such as interviews and gossip.

Thus Christian Bale’s slick, restrained image (composed largely in and by his turn as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) is wholly subverted in his manifestation of the paunchy, balding and messily candid figure of Irving.

Similarly, Amy Adams gloriously shatters the image of the buttoned-up “good” woman that has enlivened her performances in roles such as Peggy Dodd in The Master (2012) and Julie Powell in Julie & Julia (2009).

As Sydney, Adams brings the quiet strength of these figures to a new and convincing dimension that is intensely racy, desperate and treacherous.

And the centrepiece of the film is the masterful rebellion that Jennifer Lawrence achieves against the image of The Hunger Games’ earnest teen warrior Katniss Everdeen.

As Rosalyn, Lawrence is sublime – a vampy, bored, hysterical wrecking ball that can and does bring the whole operation of the plot asunder.

The fascination that these characters hold can be illuminated by some of the concepts discussed by various film theorists on acting, stardom and performance.

James Naremore of Indiana University employs the notion of ostensiveness (meaning, broadly, demonstrativeness) to name the degree to which the work and skill of a performance is made visible to the audience. A performance that is obviously crafted and committed – the “great” performance that wins an Oscar – is an ostensive one.

A well-known paradox exists here. If the achievement of an individual performance is traditionally valued in terms of how completely a performer disappears into their role, the perception of this disappearance must inevitably be based upon keeping the performer’s star-image in mind, in order to appreciate how fully it is subordinated to the demands of characterisation.

A “good” performance must simultaneously be and not be ostensive.

One common critical position assumes that stardom in this way necessarily precludes a quality performance, for the star can never sufficiently eradicate their recognisable image.

This is an assumption that underpins much of the criticism of American Hustle as overrated, incoherent and superficial.

But I see instead a film that maintains a precise balance on this tenuous and mesmerising scale of ostensiveness, with key players that dwell within a liminal register where they show and obscure their performance in subtle and unpredictable rhythms.

As a period piece, the ostensive dimension of performance in American Hustle is matched by its production design, which emphatically foregrounds the aggressive taste of the era. The shock of the style is a constant reminder that nothing about this film is natural.

It enacts the mythic theme of reinvention with the critical distance of every film employing the prefix “American” in its title (American Gigolo [1980], American Beauty [1999], American Psycho [2000]…) — delivering a set piece that showcases not only the performances of its five leads, but the spectacle of performance itself.

See further Oscars 2014 coverage on The Conversation.

This article first appeared in The Conversation

 

 

Sinophone Cinemas rich in fascinating case studies

sinophone cinemas_book coverMonash University senior lecturer in Film and Screen Studies, Dr Olivia Khoo, has edited a newly published book, Sinophone Cinemas, with colleague  Audrey Yue.

Sinophone Cinemas considers a range of multilingual, multidialect and multi-accented cinemas produced in Chinese-language locations outside mainland China. 

Showcasing a variety of new and fascinating case studies from Britain, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia, and canvassing a range of formats including commercial co-productions, short films, documentaries and independent films, the book highlights the contemporary screen cultures of Chinese-language communities situated on the margins of China and Chineseness.

It engages new sites of localisation, multilingualism, and difference that have emerged in Chinese film studies, ones that are not easily contained by the notion of diaspora.

The chapters cover a number of historical periods, geographical locations, and critical and methodological perspectives, such as the political economy of Sinophone film production, distribution, consumption and regulation; cinematic practices of Chinese and non-Chinese language resistance, complicity and transformation; and Sinophone communities as sites of cultural production and visual economies.

“This volume is a valuable source of new insights by those committed to working in the area of Sinophone cinemas. The lucid presentation of the subject makes it a perfect choice for classroom use”. 

- Professor Gina Marchetti, University of Hong Kong

 
Sinophone Cinemas, edited by Audrey Yue and Olivia Khoo

Published by Palgrave Macmillan, January 2014

 

Student-centred learning seminar

Dr Matthew Piscioneri.
Dr Matthew Piscioneri.

A seminar on student-centred learning – contemporary Malaysian and Australian perspective will be held on Monday, March 10 at Monash University’s Clayton campus.

The event is supported by the Monash Malaysian Studies Centre and Associate Dean Education Office from the Faculty of Arts.

For event flyer, click here

Seminar Program:

 No

Name 

Title 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nurahimah Mohd. Yusoff 

Student-Centred Learning in Malaysia: A case study 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmad Jelani and 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdul Malek Abdul Karim 

Assessing 21st Century Learning Using Digital 

Tools 

Dr. Noor Hashima Abdul Aziz, Dr. Hamida Bee Bi Abdul Karim and Dr. Rafisah Osman 

Issues and Challenges in Learning and Teaching in Malaysian Education 

No.

Name 

Title 

Dr. Matthew Piscioneri 

The Problem with Problem-Based Learning (especially in a Blended Learning Environment) 

Dr. Lynette Pretorius 

Student-centred learning in an online environment: Learning to critically evaluate sources through self-discovery. 

Marta Spes-Skrbis & Jim Koutsuokos 

Engaging students in extra and co-curricula activities which promote learning skills and personal and critical development of an individual. 

 Register: Matthew.Piscioneri@monash.edu 

Light lunch provided

 

MFJ equips students for fast-changing world

Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.
Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.

Welcome to the new School of Media, Film and Journalism, part of the Arts Faculty at Monash University.

MFJ is located at the Caulfield campus in Melbourne.

The school offers a comprehensive approach to learning and engaging with contemporary societies through Media and Communications, Film and Screen Studies and Journalism.

Our new school attracts outstanding and award-winning staff and students by combining cutting-edge media practice with the world-class research environment of a prestigious Group of Eight (Go8) university.

Our students graduate with a broad range of communication skills, critical thinking skills and agility that equip them to participate and thrive in a fast-changing world.

 Associate Professor Mia Lindgren
Head of Media, Film and Journalism

 

Joel Lazar wins Monash University Prize for Poetry

The School of English, Communications and Performance Studies would like to congratulate Joel Lazar on winning the 2012 Monash Poetry Prize with his poem As Far As I Can Go which was selected from over 150 entries.

As Far As I Can Go

Going to water

Is my act of repentance

Swimming is my penance

The chest I beat

When the sin becomes

Too blue and deep

When I confess that I am

An estranged lover

Separated from myself

Then I go to water

That is as far as I can go

When I insist

That You, I and It

Are different

I flee the chapel

Leaving it to burn

And when I reach the forest

My breath becomes the

Space between the leaves

That is as far as I can go

Until the swirling vacuum

The black hole in the water

Where nothing lives

That is where I will be

That is as far as I can go

And when you see from afar

The anchor shoot skyward

That is my firework of iron

That is my mocking and rebellion

Against whoever stole my choice

To be atom or atomized

To leave home proper

Or spend my years building a new one

Only for the tide’s palm

To smash and erase it

Then creep away laughing

Holding hands with the wind

Into the horizon where they both live

That is as far as I can go

Making a space for myself

Between the silk sheets of the swells

Is my returning to

The Great Searched-For

The Great Run-From

The everlasting scar tissue of the world

Because the sea is mnemonic by Design

Catching me out when

I begin telling my children

That this is as far as we can go

Then I will remember

Grown men have waded further

When the waves fold

Then I will remember

That all towers will fall

Then I will remember

That the quicksilver of dreams

Lets us slip through the cracks

Of dam walls

And swim to the sand’s edge

That is as far as I can go

Where I’ll begin

And lie down to sleep

Not where my tears collect

But from where they come

From where I come

Where water begins

And lies down to sleep

Where it goes to cry

 

Special mentions also go to Caitlin Murphy for Alphabet, Sarah Holley for 6 months on and Kristen Richards for The Whooping Hollow.

 

PhD Top-up scholarship opportunity: Assessing the Impact of MONA on the Local and Regional Cultural Economy

PhD Top-up scholarship opportunity: Assessing the Impact of MONA on the Local and Regional Cultural Economy

MONA art gallery, Tasmania
Photo by majorleague”

Faculty/School: School of English, Communications and Performance Studies, Faculty of Arts
Location: Caulfield Campus
Scholarship tenure: 3 years full time
Scholarship Value: $10,000 per annum
(Stipend & travel expenses)
Closing Date: 31 October 2012

ARC Linkage Project – Creating the Bilbao Effect: MONA and the Social and Cultural Coordinates of Urban Regeneration Through Arts Tourism.
This opportunity is for applicants’ applying for a scholarship in the Faculty of Arts.This is an exciting opportunity to conduct research within a major ARC Linkage Project and receive a top up award to your scholarship.

You will be working with a team of leading researchers and three other PhD students. You will be investigating the impact of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) on the local and regional cultural economy of Hobart, Tasmania.

You will therefore be working within an established investigative and methodological framework, with experienced supervision, a teamwork environment, and active partnership with leading local arts and policy organisations.

Supervision/Project Team

The research will be conducted by an experienced and collaborative team comprising of the following Chief Investigators:
• Adrian Franklin (University of Tasmania)
• Justin O’Connor (Monash University)
• Nikos Papastergiadis (University of Melbourne)
• Industry partners are MONA itself, Hobart City Council, Glenorchy City Council and the Tasmanian Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Arts.

Project Description and Aims

Since opening in January 2011, MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), has attracted very high visitor numbers and praise from the international art community. This project will assist the cities of Hobart and Glenorchy and the state of Tasmania to address its falling visitor numbers and faltering economy by planning and developing supportive infrastructure for MONA that will maximise its potential to attract tourists and consolidate earnings from art tourism (a Bilbao Effect).

The research will analyse why this innovative and unorthodox gallery is so successful, how this knowledge can be used to reorder and grow a peripheral ring of creative industries and tourism, and how a Bilbao Effect can be embedded as part of local governance.

• To situate MONA within a wider museological and curatorial shift from pedagogy and chronology to experience and theatricality.
• To determine what kind of publics are being attracted to MONA, and to critically analyse what kinds of experience the gallery provides, drawing on conceptual models from cultural tourism to address its twin themes of sex and death, its creation of liminal spaces and its ritualised choreography of visitor engagement.
• To probe MONA’s wider economic, social and cultural impact and to assess its potential for growth.
• Based on these findings, to develop a strategic framework within which to organise city and state marketing, visitor experience (cultural and other events and facilities), arts and creative industry development, and other
major infrastructural projects. In sum, to determine how governance structures and communities might sustainably adapt the Bilbao effect to their specific requirements.

Candidate Requirements
The successful student will have an excellent academic track record and demonstrated capacity for humanities research. S/he should also have knowledge of academic and policy debates around urban cultural policy, cultural and creative industries and/ or arts-led urban regeneration. They would be expected to conduct research under Aim Three above, but bring their own perspective, interests and experience to the project.
The top-up scholarship will be contingent on the candidate successfully applying for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or Monash Graduate Scholarship (MGS) (http://www.monash.edu.au/migr/support/scholarships/major/). International students should note that the scholarship does not cover foreign-student tuition fees. However, for outstanding applicants there is opportunity to apply for additional tuition-fee scholarships. Interested applicants are strongly advised to refer to website below for more information. Candidates will be required to meet Monash entry requirements which may include English language skills.
http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/hdr/study-options/phd.php

To apply, please submit your application for a scholarship and candidature online,https://emuapps.monash.edu.au/pls/htmldbhdr/f?p=POSTGRADRESEARCHAPP:PUBLIC_PAGE:1284916770210608

Then email your CV, research proposal and a brief statement of practical and academic suitability for the project to Associate Professor Shane Homan, Shane.Homan@monash.edu

For further information please find the scholarship information PDF.

 

  • Monash cinema experts in Seattle

    Three Monash Film and Screen Studies academics presented at the SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media…

  • B is for Bad Cinema

    Monash University’s Film and Screen Studies experts, Dr Claire Perkins and Associate Professor Con Verevis,…

  • Wigs, tans, boobs: American hustling for Oscars

    “Some of this actually happened.” So reads the non-committal title card that precedes the opening scene of David O’Russell’s sixth feature, American Hustle (2013) – a film nominated for 10 Oscars at the 2014 Academy Awards.

Events

Film and Television Studies ‘Under Construction’ Seminar Series 2012

Convened by Associate Professor Adrian Martin Download recordings of papers from the links below. For more recordings, see our podcasting page.