Tag Archive for College of Film and the Moving Image

Basinger Discusses the History of the Summer Blockbuster

Jeanine Basinger

How did summer get to be such a make-or-break season for Hollywood? It wasn’t always this way, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger recently told Marketplace, from American Public Media.

“In the old days, the studio system rolled out movies,” she said. “I mean, let’s take MGM. In 1952 [it] put out a feature film every week, so for 52 weeks they rolled out 52 features.”

In the 1940s, 80 percent of Americans went to the movies once a week. But with television gaining popularity, attendance had plummeted by the 1970s. Until 1975, when Jaws was released around the July 4th weekend. It was a smash hit. A few years later came another hit: Star Wars.

Östör Debuts New Film to International Audiences

Ákos Östör

Ákos Östör

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology and film, emeritus, lectured and presented his latest film, In My Mother’s House, at more than a dozen universities in India, Turkey and throughout Europe in 2016.

On a random Thursday in 2005, Östör’s wife, Lina Fruzzetti, opened a a startling email that read, “If this is your father, we are cousins.”

In My Mother’s House follows a decade-long quest to learn more about Fruzzetti’s Italian father who died young in Italian-ruled Eritrea, and her Eritrean mother who does not dwell on the past. Above all, Fruzzetti strives to understand her far-flung African, European, and American family against the backdrop of colonial rule, worlds at war, migration, grief, diasporas, and the global world. Her life experiences and widely dispersed family are placed into the context of global events and changes.

“Filming on the run, not knowing what will happen next, in the cramped living rooms, crowded markets and villages of Eritrea and Italy, we went wherever the events took us,” Östör said. “The film attempts to sustain the spirit of discovery and tense anticipation we felt during the production process. After all, we were protagonists, as well as historians, ethnographers and filmmakers. The improvised, mostly handheld shots, without any opportunity to prepare, create an intimacy that brings the viewer along as if participating in events as they unfold.”

Östör has already shown clips of the film to a Wesleyan audience in 2015 when it was a work-in-progress.

Both Östör and Fruzzetti are anthropologists and filmmakers who have authored award-winning films and have written over a dozen books.
In My Mother’s House is their first, deeply personal film. Their previous films in India and Tanzania concern individual lives in small communities, in contexts ranging from sacred rituals and festivals in a town, to women scroll painters and singers in village West Bengal; from fish markets in Dar es Salaam, to a handicapped people’s cooperative in Zanzibar. All were shown at festivals around the world and won numerous awards.

Watch a trailer of In My Mother’s House.

Higgins’ Matinee Melodrama Delves into the Genre of Adventure Serials

Scott Higgins author of new book, Matinee Melodrama

ProductImageHandler.ashxScott Higgins, professor of film and chair of the College of Film and the Moving Image, is the author of a new book titled, Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial, published in February 2016 by Rutgers University Press.

Higgins newest work delves into the genre of adventure serials as a distinct art form, unwrapping its different elements and what makes adventure serials so successful. Intrigued by the active, dedicated fan culture, Higgins suggests that serial’s incoherent plotting and reliance on formula, as well as, the use of other cinematic elements such as, stock characters and cliffhangers, are actually some of the genre’s most appealing attributes, not faults. The earliest forms of this genre, including before Batman, Flash Gordon, or the Lone Ranger had their own TV shows, laid the groundwork for today’s blockbusters like, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Tomb.

As the first book about the adventure serial, Matinee Melodrama examines the nature of suspense, the aesthetics of action, and the potentials of formulaic narrative, while giving readers the opportunity to analyze everything from Zorro’s Fighting Legion to Daredevils of the Red Circle.     

Whedon ’87, Hon. ’13 Talks with Basinger on WNPR

Joss Whedon '87 presented Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, with an honorary degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2006. This photograph is on display in the "Buffy to Bard" exhibit.

Joss Whedon ’87 presented Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, with an honorary degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2006. This photograph is on display in the “Buffy to Bard” exhibit.

WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show featured a conversation between Joss Whedon ’87, Hon. ’13; Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives; and David Lavery, author of Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers and co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association.

Basinger described her experience with Whedon while he was a student at Wesleyan.

“When I encountered Joss at Wesleyan, he was my superhero because he was a really fabulous student, an original thinker and somebody who you just knew was born to be a storyteller. Those things were very, very clearly in place already with him at college,” she said.

Basinger is also asked about influences apparent in Whedon’s work.

“Joss is an original. Whatever he learned or saw from past movies, or got in my class—or in Richard Slotkin’s class—has been totally filtered through his own sensibility…

“For me, I definitely perceive it as work by Joss because I hear his voice, I feel his concerns. People sometimes ask me, ‘Who is Buffy?’ and I say ‘Buffy is Joss.’ There isn’t any other answer. He’s made things so much his own, and the kinds of conventions that come out of genre that he understands and uses, the whole reason they’re in our culture is to be tempered and redesigned and reconstituted and brought forth through the creative force of a new generation. And that’s what Joss has done with them.”

 

Basinger Praised as Iconic Film Professor in The Hollywood Reporter

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies (Photo credit: Smallz + Raskind)

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, was recently featured in a Hollywood Reporter article “The Professor of Hollywood,” by film historian and best-selling author Sam Wasson ’03, who studied with Basinger at Wesleyan. The magazine brought together 33 of her former pupils who work prominently in the film industry for “an A-list class reunion” photo—and several of them talk about how Basinger inspired them, encouraging their self-expression while also sharing with them her love for the medium.

In the article, Basinger discusses how and why she came to devote her life to the study of film and how working as an usher in a movie theater, watching the same film over and over, helped her to understand the filmmaking process—and gave her the foundation for her future as a film scholar at a time when there were no film schools. In 1960 she began work in the advertising department at a scholastic publisher on the Wesleyan campus, but within a decade, she began teaching at the University some of first film study classes in America.

Jimmy Stewart Stars in Free Summer Film Series

stewardfilmsThis July, Wesleyan’s 2015 Summer Film Series presents “Hollywood Icons: Jimmy Stewart,” a four-film series sponsored by Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image (CFILM). Films will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in July at the Center for Film Studies.

All films are free and open to the public and will be preceded by an introduction by Marc Longenecker, CFILM’s programming and technical director. The “Hollywood Icons: Jimmy Stewart” film series includes Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (July 7), Harvey (July 14), Rear Window (July 21), and Winchester ’73 (July 28).

See Wesleyan’s Summer Film Series website for more information.

stewartfilms2

A. O. Scott Moderates Talk on Arts Criticism

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Four arts writers participated in a panel conversation titled “Criticism Now! A Conversation on the State of the Art” Nov. 11 at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, Center for Film Studies. A. O. Scott, Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism at Wesleyan and a chief film critic at The New York Times, moderated the event.

Audrey Hepburn Stars in July’s Summer Film Series

Audrey Hepburn stars in the 1961 romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany's. Hepburn was nominated for "Best Actress in a Leading Role" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her role as Holly Golightly. The film will be shown July 22 at the Center for Film Studies.

Audrey Hepburn stars in the 1961 romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn was nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her role as Holly Golightly. The film will be shown July 22 at the Center for Film Studies.

“Hollywood Icons: Audrey Hepburn” is the theme of Wesleyan’s Summer Film Series, sponsored by the College of Film and the Moving Image (CFILM). All four films, featuring Oscar-award winning actress Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in July.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the accompanying “Posters From the Collection” exhibition in the Rick Nicita Gallery.

All films will begin with an introduction by Marc Longenecker, CFILM programming and technical director.

All films are open to the public and are free of charge.

The films include:

Roman Holiday on July 8;
Sabrina on July 15;
Breakfast at Tiffany’s on July 22;
And Funny Face on July 29.

See the Summer Film Series website for more information and additional poster images.

College of Film and the Moving Image Secures Challenge Grant with Mellon Foundation

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

This month, the College of Film and the Moving Image (CFMI) secured a $2 million challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

If Wesleyan is able to raise $4 million for the College over the next four years, the Mellon Foundation will offer an additional $2 million gift.

In 2011, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities received a similar challenge grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through support from generous donors, Wesleyan completed that match in 2013, establishing an endowment for the Center for the Humanities for the first time in its 50-year history.

The CFMI is dedicated to advancing understandings of the moving image in all its forms—film, television and digital media—through pedagogy, scholarship, community outreach and historical preservation. The focus throughout is on the study and practice of visual storytelling, and the model of a close-knit, interactive college is well suited to the inherently collaborative nature of work in the world of film, television and digital media.

Wesleyan Creating New College of Film and the Moving Image

Wesleyan President Michael Roth announced the new College of Film and the Moving Image during the Wesleyan Entertainment Reception at the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, Calif. on Feb. 18. Pictured at the event, from left, are Rick Nicita '67; Michael Roth; Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies; Ava Fries, Chuck Fries P'85 and Mike Fries '85. Nicita has hosted the Wesleyan Entertainment Reception for 20 years.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth announced the new College of Film and the Moving Image during the Wesleyan Entertainment Reception at the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, Calif. on Feb. 18. Pictured at the event, from left, are Rick Nicita ’67; Michael Roth; Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies; Ava Fries, Chuck Fries P’85 and Mike Fries ’85. Nicita has hosted the Wesleyan Entertainment Reception for 20 years.

Wesleyan has announced the establishment of a new College of Film and the Moving Image, which includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

“We’re excited to bring together all the great things we’ve been doing around film—the Film Studies major and minor, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series—under the umbrella of the College of Film and the Moving Image,” said President Michael Roth. “The film curriculum is already so very strong, anchored in liberal learning and connected with the making of new work for cinema, television, and the web. The college structure will enable us to marshal our resources more effectively and to shine a brighter light on the great work that’s been happening in film and related areas for some time.”

Roth announced the creation of the new college at an event for alumni and friends of the university in Los Angeles, Calif. on Feb. 18.

In 2012, the Center for Film Studies hosted 12,700 visitors—more than any other academic enterprise on campus. The center includes spaces such as the Rick Nicita Gallery, the Powell Family Cinema and the Goldsmith Family Cinema. The Wesleyan Cinema Archives is pictured at right.

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

The university already houses three other interdisciplinary colleges: College of Letters, College of the Environment and College of Social Studies. The film program has a long history of supporting interdisciplinary study, with seven other departments cross-listing their courses with film.

“Since its birth around the early 1970s, the Film Studies Department has been interdisciplinary,” said Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, founder and curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives. “We are delighted that the College of Film and Moving Image unites the Film Studies Department, the Cinema Archives, the Center for Film Studies, and the Wesleyan Film Series into a single entity. Thanks to President Michael Roth, the Educational Policy Committee, our dean and our provost for all the support that we were given.”

According to Scott Higgins, acting chair and associate professor of film studies, Wesleyan leads all other liberal arts colleges in the area of film studies, and compares well with major film schools, according to such rankings as The Hollywood Reporter’s. Yet, he said, “We are not only a film production program. We offer a true liberal arts approach to the study of the moving image. In the past half-decade, we’ve seen many other liberal arts colleges develop film programs, lots of them employing our model.”