Cinema and culture

Cinema and cultureOrder Description
AAM220 2015 Assignment 1: Essay Topics and Instructions
TASK: Write a critically evaluative and reflexive academic essay of 2000 words on ONE topic chosen from the list below. This Essay covers unit materials from Regions 1 and 2 (Weeks 1-5).
Due Date: Friday 21 August, 11.59pm (end week 5, after intra-trimester break. Midnight, before clock ticks over into Saturday)
Word length. 2000 words (+ or – 10% is std.)
Weighting: 50%
Submission: via AAM220 Drop Box.
Assessment criteria: c.f. AAM220 Unit Guide 2015, pp. 6-9.
Key Requirements: (Supplementary instructions & tips are at the end of the Questions)
•Choose one Essay question.
•Use the Recommended Academic Essay Structure (see below).
•All essays will be preceded by a single A4 page PLAN worth 5 marks. Show you undertook a careful, thoughtful, professional planning process (c.f. below).
•Illustrate your answer with reference to one Required or Alternative film from Region 1 or 2. (For Barclay’s Tangata Whenua, choose one episode.)
•Reference & apply ideas from a minimum of five (5) unit library readings (except for Q. 8.). To earn high marks try to apply more than 5 readings. Dr. Star’s lectures form an extra source after you include the required 5 unit authors.
•Analyze in detail at least one (1) and not more than three (3) filmic sequences, using appropriate cinematic language (see below). Follow the instructions in the question.
•Establish clear connections to AAM220 ideas, concepts, and Required work from Weeks 1-5.
•To pass AAM220 you must hand in two assignments in a form & a manner acceptable to the unit chair. Emailed or hardcopy essays are not accepted. Include name, ID, unit code, Assignment #.
•NO option to rewrite an essay.
•Late work will be penalized at the standard rate of 5% per day late.
•If you have a good reason to request an extension (max. = 2 weeks) email the unit chair and provide an appropriate medical or other certificate.
•Use accurate Harvard referencing, in-text, & as a full end Reference List. (See library website)
• Write in a critically reflective style that situates contextualizes and critically evaluates all sources and opinions. (See below)
•Adopt a reflexive first person style that overtly establishes and includes you as the author, throughout. (See below)
•Write clear, accurate English. Edit, correct and polish your work. If necessary get support to achieve this.
•Minimize quotes. Use your own words as much as possible. Aim to find your voice and devise your arguments, accompanied by supporting evidence.
•All arguments, claims, allegations, ‘facts’ etc. must be supported with solid accompanying evidence and sources. Choose reputable academic or other reliable sources. Concentrate on unit resources.
•The Reference List and all quotes are included in the word count. Footnotes are not (see below).
•Visuals you discuss need a caption underneath or nearby, and a clear source ref. They can be inside the essay or as appendices at the end. Examples: a sketch, picture, still frame, diagram, graph, cartoon.
•Zero tolerance for cheating. Offenders will be sent to the FAPDC. Please check the Unit Guide on unacceptable academic practices such as plagiarism, illegal collaboration, double dipping, bought assignments etc.
Dr Star will be explain more in lectures and tutorials. X students post questions to the Essay discussion thread, and consult by phone after you have decided on your question, film(s), and found some readings and theorists. Read the extra instructions following the essay questions (scroll down) very carefully, and consult your tutor if anything is unclear.
ESSAY QUESTIONS
1.Explain what you understand by Thackway’s (2003) suggestion that in the case of anti-colonial cinema formerly colonized directors/groups are using their films in effect to ‘shoot back’ at former colonial masters, and/or their descendants. Choose one film (NZ Maori or Francophone NW Africa) and explore depictions of current or former colonizers and/or their descendants. Can you find examples of at least one colonizer character being depicted through the eyes of the colonized in ways they may not have guessed, noticed, understood or identified as versions of themselves?

2.Choose one unit film that can be usefully explained using two or three of the following ideas and categories. Explain reasons for your choice. Most of the terms can be suffixed with the term ‘cinema’: ‘accented cinema’, ‘Third (world) cinema’, ‘fourth cinema’, ‘transnational cinema’, ‘exilic’, ‘accented’, ‘anti-colonial’, ‘political’, ‘diasporic’. Illustrate your answer with a cinematic analysis and explanation of two and not more than three, short sequences. [Stafford (2014, pp. 512-514); Solanas & Getino (1969, 1976), Gazetas (2008), Dissanayake & Guneratne (2003), Butler (2005), Wayne (2001), Naficy (2006 – in Ezra and Rowden). Possible films: Battle of Algiers, Xala, Keita! Clando, Bamako, Tangata Whenua, Patu! Once Were Warriors.]

3. Indigenous filmmakers like Sembene (Xala), Teno (Clando), and Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) are among AAM220 cinema artists who began work in other media then turned to films for particular reasons. Choose one of these filmmakers. Do some scholarly detective work to make an argument about what you think their major reasons might have been. Illustrate with supporting evidence, e.g. film content, film launches, distribution, awards, co-funding, target and actual audiences, interviews, their own writings, and what experts have suggested.

4.In screenings of post-colonial films it is common that both audience members and characters in films will have hybrid identities. Explain what this statement means to you, using unit resources. Choose a unit film that you can argue includes at least two characters with hybrid identities. Illustrate by analyzing two sequences in the film. Now choose an audience member with a hybrid identity. It could be you or it could be another (putative) viewer whom you imagine. Explore ways in which how this audience member does or might read and respond to the two characters in the film, through, and using, their personal experiences and identities. [Hall 1990, Sissons 2005, Shohat & Stam (1994), Ashcroft et al. 2010; Barker, 2012.]

5. Explain what you understand by postcolonial ideas such as ‘aboriginal’, ‘indigenous,’ ‘first peoples’, an ‘indigene,’ and ‘the two thirds world’. What do you consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of these terms? Choose one film from weeks 1-5. Examine in depth how the director and the creative team represented two named local characters. What names are they given and how do they name themselves? Pay close attention to the politics of language in the film – whose words are translated or not, how they are translated or not, and what languages are used. [Sissons 2005; Phipps 2009; Ashcroft et al. 2013; Murray 2009; Guenther et al. 2006]
6. Choose one film from regions 1 or 2 and critically evaluate the representations and positioning of either two main female OR two main male characters. Name at least two major groups towards whom you think the director targeted her or his characterizations. In the second half of the essay illustrate your reasoning with two or three short sequences from the film. [Butler 2006 Ch.7; Byerly & Ross 2006; Thackway 2003a; Mushengyezi 2004; Pfaff 2005; Shohat 1993]

7.Outline and explain at least four reasons why post-colonial and anti-colonial films can be dangerous for formerly-colonized artists to make. Accordingly, Dr Star argues that such directors and creative teams use characteristic strategies to obscure oppositional messages from those who could hurt them or their people. Take one unit film where two or three of the following specialist techniques and terms can be argued to be in evidence: allegory, humour (e.g. satire, parody, slapstick), gritty realism, magical realism, child’s story, love story, cartooning, experimental film.) Write a filmic analysis of two to four short sequences to illustrate your answer. [Uraizee 2006; Murray 2008; Star’s lectures; Wayne 2001; Thackway 2007, 2003a; Tomaselli et al. 2003; Barclay 1990]

8.As indigenous filmmakers and creative teams work to indigenize and decolonize the screen they often experience a challenge Sissons (2005, Ch. 2) names as ‘oppressive authenticity’. Explain and explore his argument. If you can locate other unit authors whom it could be argued discuss similar or related ideas, include them too. Remember to approach film audiences as active and diverse. Use an analysis of one or two sequences from one film to illustrate your arguments.

9.Frindéthié (2009), Thackway (2003a, 2007), Tomaselli et. al. (1995) and others have suggested that representations of griot/tes have been used by African filmmakers to achieve authenticity and to ‘decolonize the screen’. Find four unit authors who use these or similar concepts in the context of Francophone NW African cinema. Explain your understanding of their ideas, comparing contrasting and evaluating them. In the second half of the essay apply the above ideas to one film from Francophone NW Africa (e.g. Keita! Hyenes, or Quartier Mozart).

10.What do you think Barry Barclay (1990, 1996, 2003) means by ‘talking-in’, ‘our own image’, and ‘making Maori films in a Maori way’? Explain these ideas and why you would want to argue that his ideas suggest criteria for fourth cinema in the New Zealand context. In the second half of the essay analyze at least one sequence from one of Barclay’s films and apply these ideas. Illustrate whether you think he has used them in the film. Use cinematic language where possible. [Stam 1993; Murray 2009; Mita 1992.]

11.Anderson’s (2007, ca. 1983) ‘imagined community/ies’ can be applied to notions such as a ‘nation’, a ‘people’, ‘ethnie/ethnic’, or a religious or gendered group as part of a local community. Imagined communities are represented, across two linked dimensions: geo-political and cultural-historic. Focusing on one such named imagined community or subgroup from one Required or Alternative film, explore how an impression of the group as real and/or authentic is achieved cinematically? You might like to address issues such as local places, storytelling, music, languages, recognizable characters and other elements. Include in your discussion any other theorists or researchers who use or explain the idea of ‘the imagined community’. Explore how these ideas can be applied to at least 1 short sequence. [Anderson 2007(ca. 1983); Appiah 1995; Butler 2006; Hayward 2006; Louw 2005; Sissons 2005; Young 1995, 2003, (pp. 60-63.)]
Further explanations and hot tips.

1.Everyone read Corrigan (2012, pp. 9-17) if you haven’t yet, on how to write academic essays about films.

2.Recommended Academic Essay Structure

Adhere to the following standard organising framework for a critical and reflective academic essay, unless you get written permission from Dr Star to do it differently.

FIRST HALF OF ESSAY:
Introduction (Abstract/Synopsis/Roadmap) Succinct summary overview of topic, film, method, main theorists & major concepts used, materials, steps in the argument, & conclusion. Tie everything to named unit authors, throughout.)
I. Reflexive introduction (Introduce yourself very briefly, concentrating on your links to the topic. Aim to establish your voice as the overriding author.) Should have only enough detail to get a sense of where you are standing when you interpret stuff. A vignette or short experience you have had, or other creative way in, is an acceptable way to introduce yourself. Aim to establish your voice as the overriding author.)
II. Background to film/place/era/audiences/ technology/politics/liberation struggles etc. if necessary. Sometimes this info. is best in the body of the essay as part of the argument.
III. Literature Review (Explain your theorists’ key ideas in detail. Use you own words. Minimize quotes. Link each idea to named & referenced unit author(s). By the end of your Lit. Review you will have built a clear, coherent framework of ideas to be used to analyze the film or TV programme. It must be adequate to explain the film in answer to the Q.
IV. SECOND HALF OF ESSAY:
ANALYSIS: Answer the question by analyzing the film (applying ideas from especially the Lit. Review Framework.) Use cinematic language wherever you can. Keep applying the ideas developed in the first half. Develop a clear argument in steps. Introduce supporting evidence from the film (or other media text)
Conclusion. Draw the thread of your argument together to reach a conclusion. No new materials here! Link again succinctly to the Essay Question.

3. Focus on the Weeks 1-5 Required materials, and not primarily on the recommended films that appear at the end of each region. The last are introductory overviews, backgrounders, and some are other films by directors we study or from a region. Refer to them in the analysis as information sources but not as the primary focus of an essay. For example you cannot analyze Reel Bad Arabs as an essay topic. Reference them properly please.
4. Except where a film or an author is named and set as part of a question, you are free to choose your unit film and authors (as above). Writers and films in brackets at the end of Q’s are indicative, not mandatory or comprehensive.
5. Any names of theorists in questions or following them in square brackets are indicative. They are neither comprehensive nor mandatory but suggested. There are other relevant unit theorists and it is your job to search them out from within the AAM220 Unit Library, including the Highly Recommended Books (HRB), Highly Recommended Journals (HRJ), Weekly Required and Recommended Reading and Viewing (including recommended documentaries at the end of each section), and lectures. There should be enough in the unit library and no need to go outside it.
Each essay is required to reference a minimum of five unit readings. In general, the more unit authors you can show you have read and can apply intelligently, the better you are likely to score. Your tutor can help after you have searched. Make sure you search thoroughly within the unit library before venturing outside the unit library. A MAXIMUM of three (3) extra-unit readings is also acceptable.
6. Harvard template is on the library site under Research. 100% accurate in-text and end Reference List entries tend to get markers in a good mood!
7. Cinematic language. Where possible use professional cinematic language and descriptions to analyze short sections of your film. See Butler HRB (Ch. 2), Hayward 2013 HRB, and Corrigan (2012) HRB, and Kydd (2012) for explanations of cinematic language and how to do this. Find other students to work with and pool resources on how cinema is put together. I will help you too. This means I do want you to at least give it a go to talk about stuff like pre- and post-production, funding, framing, lenses, colour coding, filters, casting, costumes, mise-en-scene, available technologies, film stock, camera movements, eye-lines, length of takes, cuts, music, voiceovers, digital or non-digital technologies, post-production, and non/continuity editing, etc. as appropriate.

8. PLAN: Every essay must have a PLAN of ONE (1) A4 page, worth 5 marks. Your plan overviews the topic, sections of an essay, the step-by-step arguments, evidence and conclusions. Its main role is as a professional planning tool to help you organize your thoughts, structure an argument and consult. It needs to show us you planned your essay. Under- and over-length, messy and sketchy plans, sans theorists, will lose marks. Include major unit theorists you use in the essay, with proper in-text refs, in your plan. Append the plan at the start.

A normal planning process will see a plan rewritten several times as your research, reading, thinking and arguments develop. It will develop as you consult people like the librarians, Lynne Star, study skills or peer helpers and collaborate with peers, as appropriate. Bullet points are fine but you must have accurate in-text HARVARD references for all unit or other sources mentioned in the plan, as in the essay proper. Therefore it isn’t enough to say, “I use Anderson’s idea of the imagined community”. Instead say “I apply Anderson’s idea of ‘the imagined community’ (2007, ca. 1983) to … ”
9. FOOTNOTES. Use footnotes for extra information that would unnecessarily complicate or ruin elegant writing and potentially confuse a clear argument. Good footnotes are an advanced technique that make your work scholarly and augment the power of the argument. Using Harvard, they will be stuff like longer lists of names, data, facts and figures, technical or other background details such as geo-politics, local politics, schools of thought or methodologies etc. Be careful not to confuse footnotes with source references. Harvard positions the last in-text and in the end Reference List.

10.Write in a critically reflective, evaluative, and reflexive (or dialogical) style that includes yourself, invites your reader to respond, and evaluates all your writers, artists and evidence. Note in this context ‘critically evaluative’ means identify strengths and weaknesses. You might be appreciative; it is not about trashing something. To evaluate always start by contextualizing an author or filmmaker (etc.) in times, places, subgroups, politics, filmmaking or research agenda or methodologies etc. Think and write: how does this fit my example? What are its strengths and weaknesses? For example, a filmic style, an explanation or a finding might be clearly appropriate in another time and place or for different group(s) but need adjusting for here and now. Reflexive style is first person and shows you interpreting evaluating and applying what others say. Avoid definitive hard conclusions, and approach ‘facts’ as invented or authorized within their contexts, but as temporarily agreed, tentative, fluid and contested. It’s a debate!

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