Sunday, April 12, 2009

Group Post 6

In the article entitled “The National”, Paul Willemen argues that by isolating individual cultures within a certain area through “multicultural” tendencies, “the host culture conspires with the conservative upholders of an imagined ‘ethnicity’ to draw lines around those ‘other’ cultural practices, ghettoizing them.” Is this the case within Sembene’s The Camp at Thiaroye? Or does this film represent a break from this position of otherness? Is the film solely defined by its relation to French colonialism? Does the fact that this film was produced by three separate nations (Senegal, Algeria, and Tunisia) all under French rule continue to ghettoize these peoples as cultural others or is there a collective strength represented here against colonialism in this collaboration?

In Rey Chow’s article, Fredric Jameson is quoted as writing that, “all third world texts are necessarily to be read as national allegories.” Does this hold true in terms of the films that we watched this week? In what way can these films be read as national allegories? Is it possible for these films to be interpreted in other ways outside of this scope? Is it possible for any “third world cinema” to be understood as simply a film within itself as opposed to having some deeper national connection? Why aren’t western films to be seen as national allegories?

Hamid Naficy discusses the interstitial mode of production. Where does this stand in relation to other modes of production? How does the interstitial mode of production manifest itself in the style and content of its films? Filmmakers working in this mode faced some of the same challenges that independent filmmakers in the United States faced in the late 1980s and 1990s. In what ways are emergent national cinemas similar or dissimilar to the independent film movement?

The films we watched from emerging national cinemas tended to have simple or minimal narratives. Many of the characters and places can be seen as allegories for larger concepts. To what extent are the filmmakers of these movements more concerned with portraying general situations that their people went through, as opposed to telling a specific story about specific characters? Much of the content in the films coming out of emergent cinemas is subversive. Do these cinemas, like Godard’s counter-cinema, also subvert mainstream techniques?


  1. So, the multinational cinema that we've seen has brought up a few questions for me. If you guys remember, I had a little trouble at the beginning of section last week with the interstitial mode--however, I think after rereading the article, I've got a pretty good grasp on it and how tied to the '90s Independent cinema movement it really was.

    I'd like to connect this to that thought that came up last week--the new cheap cinema available with the digital video production nowadays (see: Inland Empire), and how this interstitial mode of production--and many of the other aspects that we've studied last week, such as the minimal narrativity--may come to the forefront in this new age.

    However, one thing that I think may not come back is this "allegory" you apply to the multinational cinema, and because of this lack of mimicry, it seems to be one of its most defining aspects. While we may identify with some characters--and even sympathize, they more or less take on a bigger general role (see: Waiting for Happiness) that subscribes to a wide ranging ideology.

    Most appropriately, one could look at modern day political satires, like for example Swing Vote, and see entire ideologies crunched into a single character. It's actually a pretty interesting technique and a way to personify these ideologies into an active (yet very confined) part of a film.

  2. I feel it is hard to say that these filmmakers are "more concerned with portraying general situations that their people went through" because of how "Waiting for Happiness" is filmed. (Maybe its just because "Waiting for Happiness" is an exception amongst these filmmakers?) "Waiting for Happiness", like we discussed in section, has an almost alien world-like feel to its diegetic atmosphere (the ocean right behind the sand dunes, etc), due to the filmmakers precise, yet awkward placement of characters and objects in the space/field of vision. It makes the space feel surreal and distant from what we "know" (from reading National Geographics and watching Discovery Channels and such) the "real" rendition of the space to be. I was especially drawn to how silent, unmoving, and clean everything felt in the film (the space, story, characters, etc). It contrasted greatly with my preconception/preimagination of a desert life style, which might perhaps connect back to filmmakers trying to portray the general situations their people went through. Perhaps the director of "Waiting for Happiness" wanted us to be rattled by the silent discomfort we feel by the unusually clean diegetic dessert life, so that we will want to actively work to figure out why we feel the discomfort and ultimately think about our preconceptions and views of the life styles of such people. This would be similar to Wollens essay about Godards style of filming; how Godard deliberately tries is rupture a discomfort in the viewers so as to leave them with questions that they can try to actively figure out.