Storytelling in World Cinemas

Storytelling in World Cinemas: Contexts

Edited by Lina Khatib
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/khat16336
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  • Book Info
    Storytelling in World Cinemas
    Book Description:

    Storytelling in World Cinemas, Vol. 2: Contexts addresses the questions of what and why particular stories are told in films around the world, both in terms of the forms of storytelling used, and of the political, religious, historical, and social contexts informing cinematic storytelling. Drawing on films from all five continents, the book approaches storytelling from a cultural/historical multidisciplinary perspective, focusing on the influence of cultural politics, postcolonialism, women's social and cultural positions, and religious contexts on film stories. Like its sister volume, Storytelling in World Cinemas, Vol. 1: Forms, this book is an innovative addition to the academic study of world cinemas.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85025-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction to Volume Two
    (pp. 1-8)
    Lina Khatib

    This second volume ofStorytelling in World Cinemascontinues the journey of film stories around the world to answer the questions ofwhatstories are told in films andwhy, both in terms of the forms of storytelling used – following on from volume one of this collection – and of the political, religious, historical and social contexts informing cinematic storytelling. As with the first volume, this book approaches storytelling from a cultural/historical multidisciplinary perspective.

    The premise of this book is that cinematic stories come from somewhere – religious belief systems, historical developments, cultural encounters, social relations, folklore, developments in...

  5. Storytelling and Cultural Politics
    • Stories as Social Critique: The Vision of China in the Films of Jia Zhangke
      (pp. 11-20)
      Konrad Ng

      The selection of acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou to orchestrate the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics gestures to the important role that cinema has played in depicting Chinese cultural life. Zhang’s spectacle at the Olympics reflected how China was depicted in his films – lush, historical and sweeping – and portrayed the country as a grand and booming civilisation. Yet, if cinema expresses the dynamics of the context from which it emerges and if this context influences what and why stories are told, then what social insights are revealed by the emergence of China’s so-called...

    • Taonga (cultural treasures): Reflections on Maori Storytelling in the Cinema of Aotearoa/New Zealand
      (pp. 21-34)
      Hester Joyce

      To speak of Maori storytelling within New Zealand’s national cinema is to call up the land’s histories and its people’s memories. To write, as I am, asmanuhiri(visitor), as Pakeha (settler), about Maori film suggests engagement. So I begin with the words of two filmmakers, Barry Barclay and Merata Mita whose bodies of work reflect an ongoing articulation of issues central to the representation of their people on screen.¹ Barclay’s work includes short films, television documentaries, documentary and narrative feature films as well as a body of writing about Maori and indigenous representation. Mita’s body of work encompasses a...

    • The Minjung Cultural Movement and Korean Cinema of the 1980s: The Influence of Minjung Theatre and Art in Lee Jang-ho’s Films
      (pp. 35-49)
      Nam Lee

      Declaration of Fools(Pabo sŏnŏn,¹ Lee Jang-ho, 1983), one of Korea’s most inventive and experimental films of the 1980s, begins with a sequence in which a movie director plunges to his death from the rooftop of a high-rise building in Seoul. First comes a close-up of the movie director’s feet balancing precariously on the edge of the rooftop, and then the camera tilts upward to reveal his sombre face: it is Lee Jang-ho, the director of the film, himself. Clad only in his underwear, Lee engages in a brief but exaggerated warm-up exercise before looking down at the busy traffic...

    • On How to Tell a Revolution: Alsino y el cóndor
      (pp. 50-62)
      Robert Dash and Patricia Varas

      By the mid-nineteenth century, the ideology of US territorial expansionism in the Western hemisphere was widely subscribed to by many leading public figures. In the most dramatic case of the projection of US power in the mid-century period, the United States engaged Mexico in a war from 1846 to 1848 that resulted in the transfer of sovereignty of nearly one-half of Mexican territory to the United States. With the discovery of gold in California – among the territories that shifted from Mexican to US control in 1848 – interest surged in the building of a Central American trans-isthmian passage that...

  6. Storytelling and Postcolonialism
    • Telling Stories About Unknown People in Faraway Countries: U.S. Travelogues About Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s
      (pp. 65-75)
      Isabel Arredondo

      Film travelogues of the 1930s and 1940s were seen as opportunities for the audience to travel. InZapotec Village(1941), for instance, the narrator comments: ‘We are visiting a village; only Zapotec live here.’ By using the term ‘visiting’, the narrator invites the audience to participate in a virtual voyage to the faraway world of the matriarchal Tehuantepec, where women approve marriages and assemble their own trousseaus.¹ Jeffrey Ruoff defines travelogues as films whose main purpose is to travel in space and time (2006: 13), and distinguishes four periods in the production of travelogues. The second period, which begins in...

    • Memory and Tradition as a Postcolonial Response in the Films of Kyrgyzstan’s Aktan Abdykalykov
      (pp. 76-89)
      Willow Mullins

      The Kyrgyz filmmaker Aktan Abdykalykov uses his trilogy of films about growing up –Sel’kincek(1993),Beshkempir(1997) andMaimil(2001)¹ – to invoke stories that are glimpsed rather than fully narrated, that mediate both local traditions and national identity. He does not attempt to recreate the great Kyrgyz stories, the legends of the hero Manas. These stories are already told by others. Nor does he look for tradition in a pre-contact or pre-colonial past. Intensely situated in the subtle navigation of memory and tradition as integral parts of the everyday, his project is more complex:

      Kurakis a technique...

    • ‘Postcolonial Beaux’ Stratagem: Singing and Dancing Back with Carmen in African Films
      (pp. 90-100)
      Yifen T. Beus

      The treatment of ‘Otherness’, such as appropriating non-Western subjects and exoticising them for popular consumption, has been a common manifestation of colonial storytelling. Nonetheless, since the second half of the twentieth century, many post-colonial nation states began to reclaim their rights to (re)write their own national narratives through this very model of writing ‘Otherness’ as one of the most effective strategies of writing back to the Western centre. One such story is Carmen. A friend of the French Romantic writer Prosper Mérimée mentioned to him on his first trip to Spain a trivial drama of jealousy and murder, which formed...

  7. Telling Women’s Stories
    • Heard/Symbolic Voices: The Nouba of the Women of Mont Chenoua and Women’s Film in the Maghreb
      (pp. 103-121)
      Zahia Smail Salhi

      In her bookSes voix qui m’assiègent(1999), Assia Djebar ponders the question of women and the function of writing. It is undeniable that even though the tradition of writing in the Middle East and North Africa region predates the advent of Islam, women were historically excluded from the realm of writing and assigned the role of oral narrators who told/narrated stories and history/events instead of writing them. This state of affairs automatically strips women of positions of power in the form of scripture, which – unlike the oral word – immortalises the voice, into the position of the subaltern...

    • Women’s Stories and Public Space in Iranian New Wave Film
      (pp. 122-132)
      Anna M. Dempsey

      After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian cinema reflected the regime’s insistence on the invisibility of Western visual and cultural mores – especially those associated with the sexually mature or maturing female. Yet, though Iranian directors in the 1980s and early 1990s largely complied with government standards, filmmakers did indirectly challenge government censorship (see Naficy 1995). To bypass censors, directors used young people to comment on Iranian politics and culture. Abbas Kiarostami’sWhere is My Friend’s House?(1987), for example, employed children as direct observers of the restrictive conditions under which Iranians lived and filmmakers operated. ‘Children,’ as one critic...

    • Cinematic Images of Women at a Time of National(ist) Crisis: The Case of Three Yugoslav Films
      (pp. 133-143)
      Dijana Jelača

      In one famous medieval Serbian epic poem,The Building of the Bridge on the Bojana, a story is told of a woman buried alive in the foundation of a bridge in order to keep it from collapsing. Similar stories of sacrificing the female body for the greater good of building a patriarchal culture have been aleitmotifin many regional cultural texts since. This chapter explores questions of national identity and territoriality in relation to the female body in three Yugoslav films made in the decade before the country’s violent break-up. The three films,Petrijin venac(Petria’s Wreath, Srdjan Karanovic,...

    • History as Science Fiction: Women of Action in Hong Kong Cinema
      (pp. 144-154)
      Saša Vojković

      According to Clifford Geertz, even though common sense seems to be about the mere matter-of-fact apprehension of reality, or down-to-earth colloquial judgements, we have to consider the fact that the diversity of artistic expressions stems from the variety of conceptions we have about the ways things are (Geertz 1983). In Geertz’s view, vernacular characterisations of what happens are connected to vernacular imaginings of what can. He brings forward the notion of ‘legal sensibility’, implying that stories and imaginings are contingent on a law; this law is rejoined to the other cultural formations of human life such as morals, art, technology,...

  8. Storytelling and Religio-Cultural Encounters
    • Clouds of Unknowing: Buddhism and Bhutanese Cinema
      (pp. 157-171)
      Shohini Chaudhuri and Sue Clayton

      The international co-productionTravellers and Magicians(Khyentse Norbu, 2003) has been described as ‘the first film to be shot entirely within the kingdom of Bhutan’ (Marshall 2003: 18), despite the fact that the country has had a flourishing digital video (DV) feature film industry since the turn of the twenty-first century. These DV films have captured the local market but have rarely been seen abroad. Situated in the Himalayas, between India and China-occupied Tibet, Bhutan has been relatively isolated culturally, due to conscious policy and geographical inaccessibility. There were no roads or electricity until the 1960s and, since then, heavy...

    • Claiming Space, Time and History in The Journals of Knud Rasmussen
      (pp. 172-182)
      Darrell Varga

      The twin forces structuring the visual representation of Northern peoples have been the romantic and the administrative. The romantic impulse begins withNanook of the North(Robert Flaherty, 1922) which Flaherty presented, famously, as entertainment rather than exposition. As a consequence, the film corresponds with the then-emergent narrative and genre conventions for dramatic stories, and also gave rise to a plethora of marketing products which contribute to the image of the North in popular consciousness, from clothing to ice cream. At the same time, the film claims an indexical value and remains highly influential in documentary practice in spite of...

    • Qissa and Popular Hindi Cinema
      (pp. 183-194)
      Anjali Gera Roy

      South Asian film scholars’ examination of the Indian epic, narrative, visual and theatrical traditions underpinning the cinematic text has elevated Hindi cinema from a ‘bad copy’ of Euro-American cinema to an alternative cinematic genre with a distinctive visual and narrative grammar derived from a diversity of ancient and modern sources.¹ In addition to locating its narrative origins in Indian epics and myths, those scholars have also formulated an indigenous aesthetic for Indian cinema predicated on Hindu religious practices.² As a consequence, Hindu religious imagery employed to describe the subject, effects, gaze and spectatorship of the Hindi film has become naturalised...

  9. Index
    (pp. 195-198)