No. 61, fall 2022
The first word: another playlist
The editor looks at the TOC.
by Julia Lesage
Revisiting Marxism and media studies
Introduction. For a Marxist critique of media in the contemporary conjuncture
by Michael Litwack, Beth Capper, and Christopher Robé
The special section editors map the terrain of contemporary Marxist film and media studies and introduce the collection of essays that comprise the dossier.
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Patricio Guzmán:
lessons from The Battle of Chile (1975-79)
by Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky
It’s been almost 50 years since the devastating coup that ended Chile’s “democratic road to socialism.” This experiment in film criticism aims to re-enliven a classic socialist work about that historical experience for our now-times.
Grounded abstractions: an interview with Conor McNally
by Robert Jackson
This conversation with Métis filmmaker Conor McNally addresses the aesthetic and political insights about Indigenous resistance and settler colonial dispossession emanating from McNally's film ôtênaw.
Contemporary television and racial capitalism in place
by Curtis Marez
This essay analyzes the interrelationships between the real and fictional locations of contemporary TV show sand considers how their producers have profited from the history and ongoing reality of racial capitalism where the shows were shot.
Rompiendo puertas/Break and Enter (1971)
Residential autonomy: economies of dispossession and their undoing
by Morgan Adamson
Taking housing as a site of exploration for contemporary media studies, this essay explores how media participate in economies of dispossession but can also build toward their undoing through an examination of Newsreel's Rompiendo puertas/Break and Enter (1971).
“I am a statistic.”
Engineering counterinsurgency against the Welfare Rights Movement
by Yvonne Bramble
Mapping the confrontation between the National Welfare Rights Organization and the development of computer-based fraud auditing systems aimed at criminalizing working-class women, this article tracks how the state of California appealed to computation’s alleged transparency in order to dismantle welfare programs in the late 1960s and 70s.
aesthetics, markets, and the anti-audience of Black media
by Richard Purcell
This essay revisits Long Seventies discussions about the Black Aesthetic in order to argue that Black Radical thinkers were not only engaged in fraught political and theoretical conversations about aesthetics but also undermining the unique commodity form that mass media creates: audiences.
On Pose. “Give us our bread and our roses”:
a materialist trans feminist approach to media criticism
by Nicole Morse
By analyzing the television series Pose as a commentary on the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, this essay explores the long history of trans cultural production being read (incorrectly) as antagonistic to Marxist theory and argues that formal analysis reveals how trans cultural production can effectively interrogate how subcultures use parody and performance to critique dominant values.
What ever happened to Marxist film theory?
by Matthew Ellis
Review of Mike Wayne, Marxism Goes to the Movies; and Anna Kornbluh, Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club.
Two recent books seek to reintroduce Marxist theory into the undergraduate film studies classroom. Both books pose pedagogical questions not merely for the future of a materialist film studies, but also for how one can account for the legacy of 1970s film theory in the present.
by Jordan Kinder
Review of Rafico Ruiz, Slow Disturbance: Infrastructural Mediation on the Settler Colonial Resource Frontier. "
A critical review essay of Rafico Ruiz's latest book with particular consideration of its contributions to new directions in materialist media studies.
Poetry from Endless futures
by Nataleah Hunter-Young
Review of Kara Keeling, Queer Times, Black Futures.
In QTBF, Keeling sources a way to harness the uncertainty—the queerness—in the future of finance capitalism, exploring Afrofuturist and Black queer media arts for instances of the impossible, errant, opaque, utopic and dystopic that exist in every now.
Latin American feminist film and visual art collectives
Latin American feminist film and visual art collectives
by Lorena Cervera, Sonia Kerfa and Elizabeth Ramírez-Soto
This Special Section revisits the history of the visual arts in Latin America in the light of the commitment of feminist artists' collectives in their ceaseless and inventive struggle to free themselves from the patriarchal yoke and for equality.
Cocina de imágenes, Primera Muestra de Cine y Video Realizado por Mujeres Latinas y Caribeñas (1987): a pioneer event for tasting the recipes of Latin American women’s filmmaking during the 1970s and 1980s.
by Elena Oroz
Cocina de imágenes. Primera Muestra de Cine y Video Realizado por Mujeres Latinas y Caribeñas (Mexico City, 1987) was a pioneering event in the consolidation of cinema made by women in Latin America. This article contextualizes the exhibition’s origins and recovers the onsite discussions on the present and future of women’s cinema in the region during a transitional period marked by the redefinition of its thematic, aesthetic, and industrial outlooks.
Warmi: the first Peruvian women-led film collective
by Isabel Seguí
In the 1990s, in a context marked by Fujimori's regime and runaway inflation, the Peruvian film collective Warmi made a series of documentaries and docudramas, bringing to the fore the life experience of organised women in the margins (indigenous maids, slum-dwellers, girl gang members). This article historicizes the politics behind the alliance between middle-class women filmmakers and grassroots women's groups.
The Women’s Film Project:
an international collective in the career of Helena Solberg
by Marina Cavalcanti Tedesco
An analysis of the creative and collaborative processes and the dynamics of the International Women’s Film Project (IWFP), the only collective to which Helena Solberg belonged throughout her career.
Perspectives dialectically intersected: the Mexican audiovisual collective
Los Ingrávidos and its Film Coyolxauhqui (2017)
by Raquel Schefer
This article examines the cinematic praxis of the Mexican collective Los Ingrávidos, which not only adopts collective modes of organization and deconstructs the dominant audiovisual and cinematic grammar, but it strives to dismantle the hegemonic perceptual, cognitive, representational and scopic regimes determined by the intersection between different categories of domination related to the capitalist-colonial-patriarchal system.
Nosotras, las otras: we, the other women
by Lita Rubiano Tamayo
For more than a decade, in the south of Colombia, in the Amazon and the Andes, two rural collectives of women teach community media making and media literacy. Their projects are an important form of resistance in areas heavily affected by the armed conflict.
We are pleased to offer you an excerpt of LASTESIS forthcoming book Set Fear on Fire! to be published by Verso in 2023. LASTESIS is an interdisciplinary feminist collective created in 2018 in Valparaiso, Chile, by Daffne Valdés, Paula Cometa, Lea Cáceres and Sibila Sotomayor, renowned for their performance “Un violador en tu camino” (A Rapist in Your Path).
Art historian Daniela Galán discusses with the members of the collectives Afroféminas, Colectiva Lemow and Trenzar Perú about their visual art, activism and collective work, amongst other issues.
Where intimacy displaces violence: the cinema of Sara Gómez
by Leticia Berrizbeitia Añez
Review of Susan Lord and María Caridad Cumaná, with Víctor Fowler Calzada, eds., The Cinema of Sara Gómez: Reframing Revolution
Through a collective retelling of the Afro-Caribbean woman director's life and work, this collection of essays carefully situates the figure and impact of Gómez's cinema, focusing on the intersection between gender and race within the Cuban revolution.
Visualities and the city:
feminizing public spaces through art and media in post 1968 Mexico City
by Márgara Millán
Review of Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda’s Women Made Visible: Feminist Art and Media in Post-1968 Mexico City.
Do feminist practices create space? Can city space be feminised? And if this is so, how? This book by Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda addresses these questions in a fresh and innovative way, proposing a new form of archive that includes ephemeral practices. A way of feminizing archives, spaces and history.
Bemberg, Martel, Sarmiento:
women’s (counter)discourses in Southern Cone cinema
by Karol Valderrama-Burgos
Review of Julia Kratje and Marcela Visconti’s El asombro y la audacia: El cine de María Luisa Bemberg. Natalia Christofoletti Barrenha’s La experiencia del cine de Lucrecia Martel. Fernando Pérez and Bruno Cuneo, eds., Una mirada oblicua: El cine de Valeria Sarmiento.
Three publications on three influential women filmmakers from Latin America who have (de)constructed knowledge and led the way for a myriad of generations
Gender and sexuality in South Asian cinema
Unmaking Bollywood: style and the political in Made in Heaven
by Meheli Sen
Sexy and smart, Made in Heaven turns the Bollywood melodrama on its head.
An exploration of intersex characters in Indian cinema
by Kamran Qureshi
A critical analysis of the visual representation of people born with the variations of sex characteristics, in Indian films and of the issues they encounter in Indian society.
Daaera: forbidden love and the sensorium of desire in Bombay cinema
by Sangeeta Gupta
An analysis of a 1953 Social film from Bombay cinema dealing with the issues of conjugality, sexuality and forbidden desires.
Hidden fat shaming in Dum Laga ke Haisha
by Diksha Mittal
A critical analysis of how film elements like costume, lighting, sound, and camera framing interact with each other to fat-shame the fat actress under the garb of fat feminism.
Documenting a corporeal history of dance in Hindi cinema
by Rutuja Deshmukh
Review of Usha Iyer’s Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema
Rutuja Deshmukh reviews Usha Iyer's book on dance in Hindi cinema, highlighting the corporeal histories and cultural labour.
Bodily fluid: the movement of Bollywood dance from body to body
by Paromita Vohra
Embodied histories of queerness and performance move fluidly alongside tensions of gender, nationalism and desire in Bollywood dance.
Automatic bodies: masculinities, mobilities, nation, and the Bollywood body
by Paromita Vohra
From morals to muscles, the masculine body in Hindi cinema from Independence to Globalisation.
Sunny Leone's amazing grace:
on what it means for a porn star to be a mainstream movie star
by Paromita Vohra.
A porn star becomes a household name in India, in a story about double meanings, singular identities and the borders of respectability.
Umbartha and Fire: when women turn to each other to satisfy their needs
by R. Raj Rao
Indian cinema's first encounters with lesbians: two key feature films from the 1990s, revisited by leading Indian gay writer and activist.
Leena Manimekalai’s Is It Too Much to Ask?
sexual orientation, transphobia, and Tamil society
by Swarnaval Eswaren
This film challanges Indian heteronormativity through the predicament of two well-known transwomen in Chennai, Tamilnadu, in South India, as they struggle to rent an apartment/house, a process that interrogates/uncovers the transphobia of Tamil society.
an unconventional Bombay biopic with sex worker as hero
by Monika Mehta and Nilanjana Bhattacharjya
Sanjeev Leela Bhansali’s biopic Gangubai Kathiawadi (2021), about an actual advocate for Bombay’s sex workers, draws on both filmic and non-filmic representations of the past to redefine more inclusive histories of the Indian nation and its legitimate citizens
The fault does not lie in the stars:
Indian Matchmaking and gender representations
by Ishita Tiwary.
A personal academic essay, if I may, that critiques the representational strategies of the hit Netflix TV show Indian Matchmaking by interlacing textual analysis, memes, reception and personal histories.
A woman for two pennies: the portrayal of women and
changing social constructs of gender in Pakistani TV drama
by Iram Qureshi
A study of controversial female characters and the concepts of a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ woman, as defined by a man.
Porn studies: three interviews
by Daniel Laurin, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies
“The master timeline is an adult film history timeline.”
with Peter Alilunas
A conversation on pornography research and pedagogy, historiographic methodologies, and the value of mentorship.
Pornography in the house
with Julia Lesage
A personal reflection on living and collaborating with Chuck Kleinhans, and a revisiting of early Feminist responses to pornography.
Confessions of a "Sexpert"
with Thomas Waugh
Looking back on 60 years of engaging with, researching, writing about, teaching and defending sexual representation, queer and otherwise.
Independents: new approaches and closer looks
Questions of counter cinema and Sally Potter’s YES
by Temmuz Süreyya Gürbüz
This article takes Sally Potter’s 2004 film YES (and respectively her filmography) as an opportunity to review the discussions around feminist and counter cinema with a focus on postmodernism, for these terms continuously reflect the crisis of representation (and re-emerge) since the 2000s.
Representations of labor in cinema: Skvirsky's The Process Genre
reveals that which was always there.
by Sam Smucker
Review of Salomé Skiversky's
The Process Genre: Cinema and the Aesthetic of Labor
Skvirsky argues that labor is more present in cinema than we thought. We just didn't know how to see it.
Photo capture: depiction, extraction, and the work of the camera
by Daniel Freed.
Review of Kevin Coleman and Daniel James, eds.,
Capitalism and the Camera: Essays on Photography and Extraction
A welcome collection offers substantial and provocative considerations on the underlying ties between photographic reproduction, capitalist hegemony, and aesthetic theory.
A note on content in poor cinema—
critical attractions in Jacob Holdt’s American Pictures
by J. Ronald Green
How does a penniless, homeless, long-haired, long-bearded, recently expelled, high-school dropout from Denmark manage to come up with an epic, four-and-a-half-hour, major work of U.S. cinema?
by Victor Wallis
Review of Christopher Robé and Stephen Charbonneau’s
InsUrgent Media from the Front
Media activists teach by learning.
Screen/dance in the United States: engaging
the moving bodies in moving pictures
by Pamela Krayenbuhl, Hilary Bergen, Colleen Dunagan, Anthea Kraut, Brynn Shiovitz, and Sylvie Vitaglione
An interdisciplinary roundtable discussion about screendance/dance on screen, featuring both film & media scholars and dance scholars
With people as their unique selves: Jack Smith’s theory of visual expression
by Adam Charles Hart
This essay analyzes Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures, a foundational film of the queer underground, for its formal negotiations between directorial authorship and the self-presentation of its performers.
Queering/queered Chinese-language cinematic and cultural imaginaries
by Jamie J. Zhao
Review of Shi-Yan Chao’s Queer Representations in Chinese-language Film and the Cultural Landscape
An overview of queer media cultures and scholarship in the Chinese and Sinophone worlds.
Wishful perceptions and archival fervor in queer cinema theory
by Kevin John Bozelka
Review of Ronald Gregg and Amy Villarejo eds.,
The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema
This is an essential collection of essays positing wishful perceptions as a crucial component to queer media scholarship.
The prosthetic transgender gaze: Swiss Army Man
by Joshua Bastian Cole
The 2016 film Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) crafts trans men into being without even trying to by employing a prosthetic penis as a visual effect and depicting on-screen crotch shots that are perceivable as a spectacle for, and a spectatorship practice among, trans men, thereby producing an unexpected but decidedly trans gaze.
A welcome contribution to decolonizing film fheory
by María Mercedes Vázquez Vázquez.
Review of Nayoung Aimee Kwon, Takushi Odagiri and Moonim Baek, eds., Theorizing Colonial Cinema: Reframing Production, Circulation, and Consumption of Film in Asia
An informed, in-depth review of a must-read volume on contemporary film theory expanding beyond Western cinemas.
“Once you’re in, there’s no way out.” Tehran and the politics of erasure
by Anisa Hosseinnezhad.
This essay debunks the political ethos the TV series, Tehran’s, creators claimed for their show. They said the show tries to portray the Iranian government’s austerity, but instead viewers get a clear glimpse into the realities of their own nation, Israel.
More U.S. cinema
Psychedelic soldiers and tragic surfers: John Milius’ Apocalypse Now (1969)
by Jeeshan Gazi.
Exploring the unique themes that mark Milius’ first draft screenplay as a work of art distinct from Coppola’s iconic New Hollywood movie(s).
Art, activism, sales calls, and slave labor: dialectics in Sorry to Bother You
by Milo Sweedler.
Boots Riley’s witty and hard-hitting anti-capitalist comedy uses two different types of dialectics to tell its story of class conflict in an alternate present-day Oakland, California.
#OscarMustFall: on refusing to give power to unjust definitions of “merit”
by Dale Hudson.
#OscarMustFall calls upon film critics, distributors, educators, exhibitors, and makers to recognize that the Oscars’ definition of “merit” hides unfair advantages and unearned privileged to disempower and delegitimize the not-White and not-Western perspectives needed for a world in crisis.
The last word: keywords
A book review and a look back at my own scholarship on the religious right.
by Julia Lesage