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Western University Film Studies Five-Minute Film Festival

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Courses for 2012 / 2013


First Year
2100 Level
2200 Level
3300 Level
4400 Level


First Year

1020E: Introduction to Film Studies
As a yearlong introduction to film studies, this course will explore the concepts of film form, film aesthetics, and film style, while remaining attentive to the various ways in which cinema always also involves an interaction with both specific audiences and larger social structures. Throughout the course, we will closely examine the construction of a variety of film forms and styles—including the classical Hollywood style, new wave cinemas, experimental films, and contemporary independent and global cinemas. We will pay particular attention to the construction of film images, systems of film editing, film sound, and the varied modes of organizing these core elements (narrative, non-narrative, etc.). The second term of the course will focus on key perspectives in the history of film theory, including theories of realism, montage, spectatorship, stardom and genre. Overall, the goal of the course is to help you develop a set of skills that will enable you both to experience and analyze all forms of cinema in newly exciting (and critical) ways.

J. Blankenship section 001 - to download this section's syllabus click here
M. Banks section 002 - to download this section's syllabus click here
Z. Maric section 003 - to download this section's syllabus click here

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2100 Level

2196A: Special Topics: Superheroes (Banks)
This class will investigate superhero films and the broad-scale representation of the superhero in cinema from a variety of angles.  We will discuss the ways in which the superhero movie typically borrows from and mixes together multiple other film genres and forms (comedy, science fiction, action and adventure, animation, musicals, film noir, the Western), we’ll consider questions of adaptation, originality, repetition, the Hollywood studio blockbuster, and source inter-texts in print media.  We will likewise consider issues of race, gender, sexuality, nation and citizenship, violence, technology and CGI, theoretical issues of the real and simulacra, psychoanalysis, materialism and consumerism (merchandising, tie-ins, toys, collectibles), excess, fantasy, concerns of history, origins, and belonging, relationships between public and private identities and responsibilities, and a wider questioning of the ethics of community.  Whose community is being protected?  What does it mean to save?  

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2194A: Special Topics: Zombies (Bruce)
The zombie film has been enjoying unprecedented popularity in the past decade or more, but this horror subgenre has a much longer history. Analyzing representative films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this course will consider how the subgenre has developed over the past century, how the zombie as symbol has evolved, and why the zombie continues to resonate with filmmakers and filmgoers alike. We’ll examine such influences on the genre as German Expressionism and psychoanalytic theories, and explore the idea that such films reflect the cultural anxieties of their respective times and places in relation to such issues as gender, sexuality, race, youth, the hegemony, capitalism, technology, religion, and the environment.

Please note that this course is being offered on line.

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2200 Level

2200F: Film Theories, Criticisms, Histories (Falkowska)
The course will provide an introductory overview of some of the major trends and methods of analyzing film. We will examine a range of the most important approaches of film theory, criticism, and history focusing on key representative writings. Across the course, we will explore how these writings either set apart or engage with the broader social, political, historical, and (trans) national contexts of a film text. Specifically, we will learn how to engage in theoretical arguments in order to produce a stronger reading of film texts. You will also learn how to apply these complex historical and theoretical ideas in your essay and how to engage in a dialogue with both the cinematic and written materials we encounter.

to download the course syllabus click here

Film 2220G: Special Topics: Archive Images (Bello)
The objective of this course is to present the students the broad horizon of possibilities inherent to the use of pre-existent images to tell stories. The course will be focused on the basic skills to deal with photos and film archives and databases, and the use of these records as a source for documentary storytelling. Students will receive information about preservation, restoration and management of still and moving images.

Film 2245G: National Cinemas: East European Cinemas: Contemporary Soviet and Polish Cinema(Falkowska)

This coures explores Soviet and Polish films produced in the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and in the most recent years. The analysis of the films will be preceeded by the analysis of historical and social conditions of cultural production in these countries at the time of the political and social turmoil followed by a slow disintegration of the socialist system and a political transition to capitalism. In the first part devoted to Soviet films, the works of Andrei Tarkovski, Nikita Mihalkov, Alexander Askoldov and otherw will be discussed with particular attention paid to the works' aesthetics and political aspects. The second part of the course will focus on the flms of Polish filmmakers Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Agnieszka Holland, Wojciech Smarzowski and Grzegorz Zglinski. Their films will be studied in the context of political and artistic movements leading to political changes in the former Eastern Europe.

Film 2246G: National Cinemas: Japanese Cinema: Art and Commerce in a Transnational Medium (Raine)
This course surveys Japanese cinema from its prehistory to the work of contemporary transnational auteurs. We will focus on both Japan and the cinema: each week will present a specific historical context and a particular disciplinary question brought into focus by that week's films. For example we will consider film stardom in relation to the onnagata (female impersonator) and the benshi (live cinema narrator); the "vernacular modernist" argument that popular cinema can provide a critical perspective on everyday life, in this case of 1930s Japan; ideas of intertextuality and the connections between literature,
theatre, popular music, and prewar film; the war film and theories of propaganda; genre theory and postwar melodrama; neoformalist and cultural studies of film, anime and theories of new media, etc. We will of course watch the geniuses of Japanese cinema such as Mizoguchi, Ozu, and Kurosawa, but we will also study film in relation to groups of filmmakers, such as the Japanese New Wave and the self-reflexive avant-garde of the late 1960s, and in relation to broader contexts such as the prewar "culture of the sound image" and the postwar period of high economic growth. All readings on the course
are in English; no Japanese is required.

Film 2247F: National Cinemas: Latin American Cinema (Burucua)
The course will concentrate on Latin American cinema, referring to a body of films made in different countries since the advent of sound and the rise of the first studios in the region until today, with a strong emphasis on the most recent productions which have been re-defining the landscape of these varied and rich national film industries and film cultures. Always approaching the texts as social and aesthetic practices, attention will be paid to questions of (national and cultural) identity, film history and historiography, realism and ideology, and issues of race and gender.

to download the course syllabus click here

2250G: European Movements (Falkowska)
The course “Movements in European Film” will provide a historical background, an ideological foundation and an in-depth analysis of crucial European film movements and “waves” such as Free British Cinema, French New Wave, New German Cinema, Czech New Wave, Polish School, Spanish Surrealism, Berlin School and Dogma Movement. One or two representative films for each movement will be studied for their aesthetics, narratives and ideology. Additionally, we will study the impact of these movements on world cinemas.

2251E: World Cinema (Raine)
This course will encompass both mainstream and oppositional films made outside of Europe and North America in order to reflect upon the issues and concepts that inform the category of World Cinema. The goal is not coverage but an encounter, both familiar and strange, that will expose the global reach of Hollywood cinema and European art films at the same time that it stresses the importance of local contexts. The first module of the course is organized around the popular cinemas of East and South Asia, and will conclude with a study of films from Senegal and Nigeria. The films will lead us to consider the role of genre (musicals, melodramas, and gangster films) in world cinema, and the importance of "action" to a transnational medium. They will also raise the question of audience: how can filmmakers create a cinema informed by local conditions when local audiences instead watch international, usually Hollywood, films? The second module is organized around attempts to construct a cinema that could answer that question: Third Cinema in Latin America as an alternative to Euro-American cinema; Iranian films that respond to and critique a specific social context while being informed by both art cinema and local poetics; and films from Australasia that, like all of the films on the course, engage with questions of racial, ethnic and cultural identity.

to download the course syllabus click here

2253E: American Cinema (Raine)
This team-taught yearlong course surveys the central industrial, technological, aesthetic, and ideological developments in the history of American cinema. Given the global prominence and influence of Hollywood cinema, much of the course will be focused on the establishment of the Hollywood studio system and its many transformations over the course of the 20th century. We will begin with an analysis of the origins of the medium and its place in American culture at the turn-of-the-century. We will then examine the development of narrative cinematic standards and the rise and consolidation of the Hollywood studio system, including the place of “Hollywood-in-the-World,” paying close attention to genre, stardom, marketing, and popular reception from the 1920s to the 1960s. In addition to key technological developments such as the coming of sound and the emergence of widescreen cinema, we will also explore social anxieties about cinema's effects, the institution of the Production Code, and the complex relationship of Hollywood film to key social crises (e.g. The Depression, WWII, Civil Rights) of the period.

to download the course syllabus click here

2256G: Avant-Garde Cinema (Nagl)
This course explores the history, politics and aesthetics of American and European avant-garde film practices.  We will examine the development, major trends and techniques of experimental and non-narrative film-making in relation to key art movements and theoretical debates of the 20th century.  Topics include formalism, surrealism, political modernism, the culture industry, pop art, and feminism.

2258G: Canadian Cinema: Documents, Storytelling, Experiments (Gittings)
Beginning in the silent period and extending into the twenty-first century, this course seeks to answer historical, cultural, ideological and aesthetic questions about Canadian cinema. We will explore how cinema has reflected the complex and unstable notion of Canada as a nation, focusing upon issues of representation as well as problems of distribution and exhibition. Additionally, we will consider the transnational flows between the Canadian film industry, Hollywood, and other global film industries through co-production. Questions addressed include: What is the influence of the documentary tradition on Canadian cinema as a whole? Is there an innate division between Canadian “art” cinema and popular cinema? What are the relationships of First Nations, diasporic and queer cinemas to a Canadian national cinema? Does Canadian cinema embody two linguistic, cultural and industrial “solitudes” or are there in fact a variety of Canadian cinemas? What role does genre play in Canadian cinema?  

2270F: Film Aesthetics (Bello)
This course will explore the narrative and artistic functions of basic film elements, e.g., composition, script, lightning, sound, music and editing. The main concepts will be illustrated with a wide range of audiovisual material: feature and short films, documentaries, TV series, Internet clips and developing new media. The course will also offer an introduction to the audiovisual production process.

to download the course syllabus click here

2275F: Documentary Film (Coates)
This course will examine some of the paradoxes involved in the theory and practice of documentary as the ‘creative treatment of actuality’ John Grierson deemed characteristic of the form.  Among other things, it will investigate the relationship between documentary and ethics with reference to such issues as those of privacy, ‘epistemophilia’, and the role various documentaries have played in seeking adequately to respond to the Holocaust.  In the process we will view documentaries by Krzysztof Kieślowski, Errol Morris and Jean Rouch among others.

to download the course syllabus click here

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3300 Level

3312G: Special Topics: Service Learning Experiences (Bello)
The objective of this course is to provide students with the opportunity of taking part in different community service experiences: their responsibility will be to create a visual record (journal) and produce a series of clips or shorts to communicate the experience.

3316F: Special Topics: Before and After the Holocaust (Coates)
This course will use a series of filmic, literary, and theoretical texts to probe issues of representation connected with the Holocaust. If Ezra Pound is correct in describing the artist as ‘the antenna of the race’, some pre-Holocaust art – particularly by its potential victims – might be deemed to have foreseen an annihilation. However, might the void central to such works be primarily a topos of modernist provenance, with the ‘prophetic’ appearance of texts by such figures as Franz Kafka and Bruno Schulz merely a reflex of the ‘openness’ of their signifying practices, defined in terms such as those of Umberto Eco? The status of representation in the aftermath of the Holocaust, meanwhile, will be considered in relation to filmic and literary texts by ethnic Poles, such as Wojciech Has, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Andrzej Wajda; by such Jewish figures as Paul Celan, Claude Lanzmann, Roman Polański and Steven Spielberg; and by such non-Polish Gentiles as Ingmar Bergman (Persona) and Alain Resnais (Night and Fog). The course will also consider texts that are in a sense both ‘before’ and ‘after’, such as filmic adaptations of pre-Holocaust texts (e.g. Has’s version of Schulz’s Hour-Glass Sanatorium). Theoretical texts to be considered will include ones by Adorno, Derrida, Sander Gilman and René Girard.

to download the course syllabus click here

3330F: National Cinemas: German Exile Cinema: From Berlin to Hollywood
This course explores the transnational dialectics between German cinema and Hollywood, with a special focus on directors and actors who emigrated to the U.S. including Fritz Lang, Marlene Dietrich, F. W. Murnau, Peter Lorre, Billy Wilder, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Ernst Lubitsch. We will trace the influence of Weimar cinema on Hollywood productions of the 1930s and 1940s, taking into consideration diverse genres including melodrama, film noir, the anti-Nazi film, comedy, and horror. We will explore how the experience of displacement shaped the exiles’ sense of identity and film-making and we will examine the ways how German film-makers in Hollywood reacted to fascism and World War II.

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3370F: Advanced Film Aesthetics (Bello)
This course will be focused on the understanding of the process of making a film and the underlying aesthetic/ethic decisions involved in it, through the study of a selection of contemporary documentaries and short films. The students will be also provided with notions concerning the different stages of audiovisual production and basic production skills.

to download the course syllabus click here

3371G: Film Theory (Nagl)
This course offers a critical and historical overview of the key questions and problems discussed in Film Theory during the last century. In this class we will look at both “classical” film theories (from the silent era up to the mid-1960s) and “contemporary” film theory (since 1968). We will also engage, at the end of the course, with recent attempts to re-evaluate both paradigms. Issues discussed might include: the relationship between cinema and the other arts; notions of medium-specificity; film and mass culture; film and/as language; semiotics and the cinematic image; formalism, signification and narratology; ideology and ideology-critique; psychoanalysis and spectatorship; race, sexuality and gender; postmodernism and cultural studies; phenomenology, affect and “post-theory.” This is a reading-intensive course which focuses not so much on specific films and their contexts, but on a wide array of critical concepts, including their sometimes challenging methodological and philosophical underpinnings. Please plan your time accordingly.


3373F: Theories of National Cinemas (Burucua)
The course will provide students with a critical interrogation of the concept of ²national cinema². Informed by theories of nation developed by Benedict Anderson and others, the course begins by troubling notions of nation as an organic, homogeneous, unitary entity before shifting into a study of ideology and cinematic representations of nation, and the political economies that facilitate the production of national cinemas. Readings of the ‘national’ will be underpinned by understandings of class, gender, race and sexuality. Films from various imperial, colonial, national and diasporic cinemas will be examined in the context of debates about what constitutes a national cinema.

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4400 Level

4409E: Undergraduate Thesis
Individual instruction in the selection of a topic, the preparation of materials, and the writing of a thesis. Students who wish to take this course must apply to the Chair of the Department. The course is restricted to students in fourth year of an Honors Specialization in Film Studies with a high "B" average.
Note: You cannot register for the course online. You will be registered in Film 4409E by the Department once your application form has been accepted.
Application form
Evaluation form

4470G: Seminar: Film Aesthetics (Bello)
The aim of this seminar is to provide students with information and challenges that can aid them in the development of their own style as filmmakers. The sessions will be focused on asking aesthetic, ethical, organizational and technical questions, the purpose of which will lead to the discovery of the participants’ own interests and to help them to gain the necessary skills for a satisfactory completion of their projects. Understanding the filmmaking process as a communicative action, we will make special emphasis on the importance of thinking and acknowledging the presence of the potential audience while making creative decisions.

4474F: Seminar: European Migrations (Falkowska)
Movement and constant change of place of residence have become a modus operandi or a style of life for many Europeans. These spatial transitions result from important social and political changes in the past twenty years in Europe. The events principally referred to as causes of new migration are The Fall of the Communism, the impact of glasnost in the Eastern bloc, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and of the Eastern European Bloc, the unification of Germany and the formal creation of the European Union. All these phenomena have led to a shift in ideologies, they destabilized obvious divisions into the East and the West, the South and the North and allowed for the porosity of geographical borders and for the formation of new hybridized identities. The creation of the European Union has led to the disappearance of some borders, the diffusion of a common currency and the formation of a single market. The most interesting phase in these processes is the very phase of transition from the old phenomenon/entity/identity into the new one, which we will explore in the processes of acculturation and whitening, amoung others. We will discuss diasporic identities, migratory experiences and the geopolitical aesthetics in, amoung others, such films as Head-On (Gegen die Wand, dir. Fatih Akin, 2003), In This World (Michael Winterbottom, 2002), Exils (Tony Gatlif, 2003), Dirty Pretty Things (dir. Stephen Frears, 2002), and Last Resort (dir. Pawel Pawlikowski, 2000) in view of theoretical approaches to road films (Timothy Corrigan, Kris Lackey and David Laderman) supported by the theories of borders and national identity of Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabha, Stephen Crofts, Stuart Hall, Andrew Higson, Frederic Jameson, Philip Rosen, Ella Shohat and Robert Stam. At the end of the course, we will also discuss some issues related to a different type of migration, that is, tourism, as explored by Zygmunt Bauman, Rosi Braidoti, James Buzard, Robin Cohen, John Urry, Stuart Higson, Karen Kaplan, Michel Laguerre and Kathryn Woodward.

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Department of Film Studies - Western University
University College Building, Room 79
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7
Tel: 519.661.3307

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