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Cinema Today

Cinema Today: A Conversation with Thirty-nine Filmmakers from around the World

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Cinema Today
    Book Description:

    Imagine attending a fascinating film forum among a distinguished and varied panel of cinema legends. An afternoon or evening where contemporary filmmakers from around the world--Kazakhstan, Turkey, Macedonia, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Cameroon, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Japan, the People's Republic of China, Mexico, Poland, the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France--gather together to discuss how they arrive at the creative choices that bring their film projects to life.Can't spare the time from work or class? Travel expense too great?What? You can't even find such a collaborative event?Then imagine curling up with a good book, maybe a shot of espresso in hand, and becoming engrossed in the exciting and informative conversation that Elena Oumano has ingeniously crafted from her personal and individual interviews with these artists. Straying far from the usual choppy question-and-answer format,Cinema Todaysaves you from plowing through another tedious read, in which the same topics and issues are directed to each subject, over and over-an experience that is like being trapped in a revolving door.Oumano stops that revolving door by following a lively symposium-in-print format, with the filmmakers' words and thoughts grouped together under various key cinema topics. It is as though these experts are speaking to each other and you are their audience--collectively they reflect on and explore issues and concerns of modern filmmaking, from the practical to the aesthetic, including the process, cinematic rhythm and structure, and the many aspects of the media: business, the viewer, and cinema's place in society. Whether you are a movie lover, a serious student of cinema, or simply interested in how we communicate in today's global village through films that so profoundly affect the world,Cinema Todayis for you.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5028-2
    Subjects: Film Studies, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)

    When the far-flung bits and pieces borrowed from older, more established arts are shaped into a smooth, composite whole to make great cinema, something entirely new, powerful, and exciting results—moving images and sounds that follow their own rules of movement, space, and story to reveal a livelier, more passionately intense reflection of the world as we experience it. This metamorphosis begs the perennial question, what is cinema? Famously posed by seminal French film theorist André Bazin, the question has never been answered to everyone’s complete satisfaction, so we continue to explore it today, even while recognizing that cinema’s unique...

    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 Cinematography
    (pp. 1-25)

    Ideally, the cinematographer (aka director of photography, or DP) is the director’s greatest ally, but the relationship between director and DP varies. Some independent directors, such as Lance Hammer and Andrew Bujalski, welcome the DP’s input during pre-production and the shooting phase on virtually every decision relating to the film’s visuals and sometimes even on other matters. Some directors plan all the camera shots themselves, often in tandem with blocking the actors’ movements, so the DP’s responsibility is limited to lighting the sets or locations. At times, directors like Brillante Mendoza, Scott Hicks, and Sergei Dvortsevoy even take up the...

  6. 2 Cinema and Sound
    (pp. 26-47)

    As the last major element to be added to the language of cinema, sound was its final artistic frontier, and, in some respects, it still is. When sound was first added to moving images, it was widely regarded as an aesthetic tragedy and a business threat. Before, a good love story could be seen all over the world. No one cared who played the parts—Czech, Russian, English, American, French, or Japanese actors. Language wasn’t a barrier.

    A few contemporary purists still contend that cinematic art ended with the advent of sound, but most people believe that the addition of...

  7. 3 Working with Actors
    (pp. 48-78)

    The process through which an actor transforms a character that exists on paper into a fully realized, complex, and persuasive being is elusive and variable. At the very least, an actor should possess enough emotional intelligence to comprehend the complexities of the character and enough intellectual intelligence to understand how that character fits into the canvas of an entire film. Aside from those minimal requirements, though, acting talent and the acting process are difficult to define, so filmmakers can be confused as to the best way to work with their actors.

    Generally, a filmmaker’s approach to directing actors reflects his...

  8. 4 Cinematic Rhythm and Structure
    (pp. 79-91)

    Cinema’s ability to defy ordinary limits of time and space means that a film’s structure can be as complex as an architectural space, with various angles of entry and points of view, hidden rooms, and twisting, turning passageways. Some films are labyrinths in which the viewer searches for resolution, a way out, while other films are like big, empty rooms in which everything is visible. The viewer enters through the front door, looks and listens for a while, and then exits through the back door, often promptly forgetting whatever he or she has experienced.

    Rhythm, what some filmmakers refer to...

  9. 5 The Process: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production
    (pp. 92-147)

    Many of us enter a movie theater, look at the screen, hear the sound, and experience a single impact. If you ask us a few days later, “What did you see?” we’ll tell you the story of the film as if we had lived it with the characters. So we tend to assume that the filmmaker’s choices relate mostly to content, that is, story and characters.

    But this apparent simplicity belies a complicated and collaborative process that differs naturally from filmmaker to filmmaker and from project to project. We’ve discussed cinematography, sound, actors, and rhythm and structure in separate chapters;...

  10. 6 The Business: Financing, Distribution, and Exhibition
    (pp. 148-164)

    Making a film may be a creative process, but getting the film to viewers involves many non-art functions as well as issues of control. In most ways, the business of filmmaking is just like any other. Mismatched as they may be, art and business are longtime bedfellows; but profit, or at least breaking even, is particularly crucial for film, because making one requires so much money. Of course, one can borrow a camera and a computer editing setup and ask friends to volunteer their knowledge and help on the shoot. More and more independent films are being made today for...

  11. 7 Cinema, Art, and Reality
    (pp. 165-186)

    Cinema’s apparent reflection of physical reality inclines it toward portraying our interactions within our environment. It has also led to a commonly held myth that cinema’s continuous, two-dimensional images do not lie. Documentaries, in particular, often seem to offer views of our world as it really is; but, of course, a film is always constructed from whatever the filmmaker believes is happening in a particular situation. No one can avoid the influence of his or her personality or see beyond the limits of the self. Simply selecting a subject on which to focus and placing the camera so as to...

  12. 8 The Viewer
    (pp. 187-208)

    Like jazz or pop music, cinema is a popular art form meant to communicate with many people, often at once. Just as a film’s illusion is a complicated thing, made up of various and sundry parts that somehow draw together into an integrated whole, the audience is a composite that ranges from the wide-eyed and rapt to the distracted and preoccupied.

    So some films are like roller-coasters, in that the director attempts to mold viewers into a single-minded audience and takes that audience for a ride, controlling its experience in whichever way he or she desires. That’s fair enough. After...

  13. 9 Cinema and Society
    (pp. 209-232)

    Even the most escapist fantasy film cannot help but transport some fragment of its maker’s ideology and traces of its parent culture. Whenever an actor is filmed on location, whatever is in the background is captured on camera as well. Even a fabricated film set expresses something of its time, culture, and values. For instance, films from the thirties bear witness to that era through the political and social attitudes of the characters, the style of the clothes and decor, as well as many other cultural signifiers the director may not have been aware of at the time. American westerns...

  14. Profiles of the Filmmakers
    (pp. 233-276)

    For more complete filmographies for these filmmakers, see the Internet Movie Database (

    Swedish stage, television, and film actor/writer/editor/director Tomas Alfredson first drew significant notice with the internationally acclaimed featuresFour Shades of BrownandLet the Right One In, the latter a strikingly original take on the romantic horror genre that won numerous prizes, including the “Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature” at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and the European Fantastic Film Festival’s 2008 Méliès d’Or for the “Best European Fantastic Feature Film,” as well as four awards from the Swedish Film Institute.

    Right Onetells the story...

  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)