The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Undergraduate Courses: Fall 2020

FILM-ST 330: Film Auteurs: Akira Kurosawa

Instructor: Barry Spence
Lecture/Screening: Wednesday 4:00-7:00
Discussion: Friday (50 min section before 2:30PM)
Location: ILC S404

This class will focus on one, or more, specific filmmaker and will aim to highlight their cinematic models, distinctive style and recurrent themes, within the theoretical framework of the "auteur theory", thus offering students an introductory and comprehensive view of perhaps the most central concept in film studies. In the first place, this class will address the historical evolution of the debate around "auteur theory," from the "politique des auteurs" to the "death of the author", while providing author criticism and analysis in practice. It will tackle questions such as: Why do certain filmmakers qualify as auteurs? What is the difference between commercial cinema and auteur cinema? Due to the collaboritieve nature of filmmaking, can we talk about the author of a film? What is the intersection between gender and authorship? What does it mean to be a woman author? Secondly , it will concentrate on one specific filmmaker: students will read pertinent bibliography (e.g. biography, film reviews, ect.) on their films, watch and study their most significant film production, and contextualize it historically, geographically and culturally.

FILM-ST 170 - Introduction to Film Analysis: Cinematic Time Travel

Instructor: Barry Spence
Lecture/Screening: Th 4:00PM-6:45PM; Discussion: Fri 2:30PM-3:45PM OR Fri 2:30PM-3:45PM OR Mo 2:30PM-3:45PM
Classroom: Screening - ILC S240; Discussion - N155/ILC N211/Bartlett Rm 131
NOTE: This is a combined course, and can be enrolled under either COMP-LIT 170 or Film-ST 197FA.

This is an introduction to film studies and to the analysis of film. The course explores the complex nature and cultural function of cinema by focusing on time travel as both a central theme of a wide range of films and as a way of understanding how cinema works as a time-based medium. By studying films from various points in the global history of cinema - including films from nine countries and five continents - this course performs a transcultural introduction to the formal and stylistic aspects of cinematic storytelling. (Gen. Ed. AT)

FILM-ST 397E: Film at the End of the World

Credits: 3
Instructor: Daniel Pope
Tues 4pm-7pm

Climate disaster, world war, aliens, cosmic collisions, dystopias, zombies, the rise of the machines, catastrophic pandemics, mass extinction, prophesied apocalypse. What do films about the end of the world tell us about contemporary realities? What insights do they offer into the cultural moment that produces them and the prevailing attitudes and realities of gender, race, class, sexuality, and gender identity? How do they speak to our anxieties and fears about the future as well as our hopes and aspirations? How does the genre of end-of-the-world films intersect with other genres—thriller, action film, neo-noir, comedy, art-house, romance, drama, experimental, historical? In this course we will study the cinema of eschatology, of ultimate endings, and analyze a range of filmic approaches to the philosophical, psychological, social, and aesthetic questions posed in end-of-the-world films.

FILM-ST 397G: Contemporary Hispanic Cinema

Instructor: Daniel Pope
Credits: 3
Th 4:00-7:00pm
Cap 15 (of 25, Cap of 10 be listed as SPANISH 397B)

This course gathers together an array of recent Latin American, Spanish, Caribbean, and Latinx films with an emphasis on addressing the experiences of marginalized people, with an emphasis on questions of gender, class, race, and sexual and gender identity. We will explore the historical and cultural contexts in which these films are made and seen, in many cases reaching vast audiences across the world, and we will push at the boundaries of the category “Hispanic” in cinema. Analysis and discussions will also draw on insights from film theory, such as approaches to world cinema, “Third Cinema,” national and transnational cinemas, and Hamid Naficy’s concept of “accented cinema.” Taught in English with films subtitled in English. Spanish majors encouraged to submit written work in Spanish. Cross-listed with SPANISH 397B, Pre-requisites: none.

FILM-ST 497W: Film Writing and Criticism in the Age of New Media

Instructor: Daniel Pope
Credits: 3
M 2:30-5:30pm

This is both a writing class for movie-lovers and a film class for writers interested in new media. With cinema touching nearly every corner of popular and intellectual culture, new varieties of film writing have flourished along with it. From thinking about what cinema is (and what it can be) to personal explorations of cinema, we will dive into the exciting new opportunities for film criticism, from the force of the critical essay and the art of the film review to the rapidly evolving landscape of new media—video essays, podcasts, websites, social media, blogs, and other engagements with film. The core work of this class focuses on discovering our own compelling insights into films and film art from around the world and from different eras of cinema and then expressing those discoveries effectively in moving images, written words, and audio experiences for diverse audiences.

FILM-ST 383 - Narrative Avant-Garde Film

Instructor: Don Levine
Lecture/Screening: Mo 4:00PM-7:30PM; Discussion: Tu 2:30PM-3:45PM OR 4:00PM-5:15PM
Classroom: Lecture - Herter Hall Rm 227; Discussion - Herter Hall Rm 112
Cap: 20; 4 Credits

Focus on narrative problems of love, desire, sexual identity, daily life, and death. These films' investigations of how we might gain distance on our life fictions by questioning and undermining viewer identification with narrative. (Gen.Ed. AT)

FILM-ST 797C: Catalan Cinema - a stateless national film production

Instructor: Barbara Zecchi
Cap: 6 students for Film-ST from a cap of 12

The goal of this class is to give visibility to a film production that is generally assimilated by,and shoehorned into, Spanish film production. If there is a commonsense understanding of what a national cinema is, what about a stateless national cinema? Catalan cinema is often relegated to a footnote or a compulsory chapter in books on Spanish cinema, even though Spanish cinema would be inconceivable without Catalan film production. Just as early feminist theory called for a “countercinema,” early radical Latin American theory for an “imperfect cinema,” and Hamid Naficy for an “accented cinema,” so Catalan cinema cries out for a reevaluation of cinematic models and protocols. Is Catalan cinema an imperfect, minoritarian, colonized, accented countercinema? Does it have its own idiosyncrasies? This class aims at answering these and other questions by offering an overview of the history of Catalan cinema from the pioneering days to the present. Particular emphasis will be given to "auteurs" such as Joaquín Jordà, Ventura Pons, Bigas Luna, Pere Portabella, and Isabel Coixet; the avant-gardist Escola de Barcelona, that provoked belligerent rejections like no other film movement; the clandestine production during the Franco dictatorship (Helena Lumbreras and her Class Cinema Collective, or Pere Portabella's early works); the creative documentary of the Pompeu Fabra; and the new generation of women filmmakers (Neus Ballús, Carla Simón, Elena Martí, among others).

JUDAIC 344 - Film and society in Israel

Instructor: Olga Gershenson
Cap:15 students for Film-ST from a cap of 30

This course uses film to discuss Israeli society. Topics include: foundation of Israel, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Holocaust survivors, religion, gender, and interethnic relations. All film showings are with English subtitles. (Gen. Ed. AT, DG)

JUDAIC 320: Jewish Humor

Instructor: Olga Gershenson
Cap:15 students for Film-ST from a cap of 30
Meeting days and times-W, 4-6:45

COMM 446: Film Documentary

Instructor: Bruce Geisler

We will view, analyze, and discuss films by modern documentary masters such as Michael Moore ("Sicko"), Chris Paine, ("Revenge of the Electric Car"), Seth Gordon ("The King of Kong - A fistful of Quarters"), Pamela Yates ("Granito") and many others to further the understanding of the documentary craft and art from a filmmaker's perspective. Students will also do preproduction (research and treatment) for their own short documentary, along with shorter hands-on exercises in writing narration, interview techniques, etc.

COMM 493Z: Documentary Production

Instructor: Bruce Geisler

(More information soon)

Possible Futures: Science Fiction in Global Cinemas

Instructor: Kevin Anderson

(More information soon)