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New Directions in National Cinemas

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New Directions in National Cinemas

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Cosmopolitan Film Cultures in Latin America, 1896-1960

Edited by Rielle Navitski and Nicolas Poppe

Cosmopolitan Film Cultures in Latin America examines how cinema forged cultural connections between Latin American publics and film-exporting nations in the first half of the twentieth century. Predating today’s transnational media industries by several decades, these connections were defined by active economic and cultural exchanges, as well as longstanding inequalities in political power and cultural capital. The essays explore the arrival and expansion of cinema throughout the region, from the first screenings of the Lumière Cinématographe in 1896 to the emergence of new forms of cinephilia and cult spectatorship in the 1940s and beyond. Examining these transnational exchanges through the lens of the cosmopolitan, which emphasizes the ethical and political dimensions of cultural consumption, illuminates the role played by moving images in negotiating between the local, national, and global, and between the popular and the elite in twentieth-century Latin America. In addition, primary historical documents provide vivid accounts of Latin American film critics, movie audiences, and film industry workers’ experiences with moving images produced elsewhere, encounters that were deeply rooted in the local context, yet also opened out onto global horizons.

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Descended from Hercules

Biopolitics and the Muscled Male Body on Screen

Robert A. Rushing

Muscles, six-pack abs, skin, and sweat fill the screen in the tawdry and tantalizing peplum films associated with epic Italian cinema of the 1950s and 1960s.Using techniques like slow motion and stopped time, these films instill the hero’s vitality with timeless admiration and immerse the hero’s body in a world that is lavishly eroticized but without sexual desire. These"sword and sandal" films represent a century-long cinematic biopolitical intervention that offers the spectator an imagined form of the male body—one free of illness, degeneracy, and the burdens of poverty—that defends goodness with brute strength and perseverance, and serves as a model of ideal citizenry.Robert A. Rushing traces these epic heroes from Maciste in Cabiria in the early silent era to contemporary transnational figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian, and to films such as Zach Snyder’s 300.Rushing explores how the very tactile modes of representation cement the genre’s ideological grip on the viewer.

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Euro Horror

Classic European Horror Cinema in Contemporary American Culture

Ian Olney

Beginning in the 1950s, "Euro Horror" movies materialized in astonishing numbers from Italy, Spain, and France and popped up in the US at rural drive-ins and urban grindhouse theaters such as those that once dotted New York’s Times Square. Gorier, sexier, and stranger than most American horror films of the time, they were embraced by hardcore fans and denounced by critics as the worst kind of cinematic trash. In this volume, Olney explores some of the most popular genres of Euro Horror cinema—including giallo films, named for the yellow covers of Italian pulp fiction, the S&M horror film, and cannibal and zombie films—and develops a theory that explains their renewed appeal to audiences today.

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Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema

Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Ruth Ben-Ghiat provides the first in-depth study of feature and documentary films produced under the auspices of Mussolini’s government that took as their subjects or settings Italy’s African and Balkan colonies. These "empire films" were Italy's entry into an international market for the exotic. The films engaged its most experienced and cosmopolitan directors (Augusto Genina, Mario Camerini) as well as new filmmakers (Roberto Rossellini) who would make their marks in the postwar years. Ben-Ghiat sees these films as part of the aesthetic development that would lead to neo-realism. Shot in Libya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, these movies reinforced Fascist racial and labor policies and were largely forgotten after the war. Ben-Ghiat restores them to Italian and international film history in this gripping account of empire, war, and the cinema of dictatorship.

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Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Film

Jennifer L. Creech

Mothers, Comrades, and Outcasts in East German Women's Film merges feminist film theory and cultural history in an investigation of "women’s films" that span the last two decades of the former East Germany. Jennifer L. Creech explores the ways in which these films functioned as an alternative public sphere where official ideologies of socialist progress and utopian collectivism could be resisted. Emerging after the infamous cultural freeze of 1965, these women’s films reveal a shift from overt political critique to a covert politics located in the intimate, problem-rich experiences of everyday life under socialism. Through an analysis of films that focus on what were perceived as "women’s concerns"—marital problems, motherhood, emancipation, and residual patriarchy—Creech argues that the female protagonist served as a crystallization of socialist contradictions. By framing their politics in terms of women’s concerns, these films used women’s desire and agency to contest the more general problems of social alienation and collectivism, and to re-imagine the possibilities of self-fulfillment under socialism.

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Nollywood Stars

Media and Migration in West Africa and the Diaspora

Noah A. Tsika

In this comprehensive study of Nollywood stardom around the world, Noah A. Tsika explores how the industry’s top on-screen talents have helped Nollywood to expand beyond West Africa and into the diaspora to become one of the globe's most prolific and diverse media producers. Carrying VHS tapes and DVDs onto airplanes and publicizing new methods of film distribution, the stars are active agents in the global circulation of Nollywood film. From Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde’s cameo role on VH1’s popular series Hit the Floor to Oge Okoye’s startling impersonation of Lady Gaga, this book follows Nollywood stars from Lagos to London, Ouagadougou, Cannes, Paris, Porto-Novo, Sekondi-Takoradi, Dakar, Accra, Atlanta, Houston, New York, and Los Angeles. Tsika tracks their efforts to integrate into various entertainment cultures, but never to the point of effacing their African roots.

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Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film

Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations

Joshua Malitsky

In the charged atmosphere of post-revolution, artistic and political forces often join in the effort to reimagine a new national space for a liberated people. Joshua Malitsky examines nonfiction film and nation building to better understand documentary film as a tool used by the state to create powerful historical and political narratives. Drawing on newsreels and documentaries produced in the aftermath of the Russian revolution of 1917 and the Cuban revolution of 1959, Malitsky demonstrates the ability of nonfiction film to help shape the new citizen and unify, edify, and modernize society as a whole. Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film not only presents a critical historical view of the politics, rhetoric, and aesthetics shaping post-revolution Soviet and Cuban culture but also provides a framework for understanding the larger political and cultural implications of documentary and nonfiction film.

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Screening Strangers

Migration and Diaspora in Contemporary European Cinema

Yosefa Loshitzky

Yosefa Loshitzky challenges the utopian notion of a post-national "New Europe" by focusing on the waves of migrants and refugees that some view as a potential threat to European identity, a concern heightened by the rhetoric of the war on terror, the London Underground bombings, and the riots in Paris's banlieues. Opening a cinematic window onto this struggle, Loshitzky determines patterns in the representation and negotiation of European identity in several European films from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged, Stephen Frears's Dirty Pretty Things, Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine, and Michael Winterbottom's In This World, Code 46, and The Road to Guantanamo.

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Screens and Veils

Maghrebi Women's Cinema

Florence Martin

Examined within their economic, cultural, and political context, the work of women Maghrebi filmmakers forms a cohesive body of work. Florence Martin examines the intersections of nation and gender in seven films, showing how directors turn around the politics of the gaze as they play with the various meanings of the Arabic term hijab (veil, curtain, screen). Martin analyzes these films on their own theoretical terms, developing the notion of "transvergence" to examine how Maghrebi women's cinema is flexible, playful, and transgressive in its themes, aesthetics, narratives, and modes of address. These are distinctive films that traverse multiple cultures, both borrowing from and resisting the discourses these cultures propose.

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Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space

Edited by Jennifer M. Bean, Anupama Kapse, and Laura Horak

In this cross-cultural history of narrative cinema and media from the 1910s to the 1930s, leading and emergent scholars explore the transnational crossings and exchanges that occurred in early cinema between the two world wars. Drawing on film archives from around the world, this volume advances the premise that silent cinema freely crossed national borders and linguistic thresholds in ways that became far less possible after the emergence of sound. These essays address important questions about the uneven forces–geographic, economic, political, psychological, textual, and experiential–that underscore a non-linear approach to film history. The "messiness" of film history, as demonstrated here, opens a new realm of inquiry into unexpected political, social, and aesthetic crossings of silent cinema.

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