Write short essay responses to two of the following three essay questions. Each response should discuss at least two films from our syllabus (you can discuss more if you like, but two would be sufficient). Your essays should only discuss films we watched after the midterm exam. You should not use the same film more than once in your exam. In other words, your exam should discuss at least four films total. Each response should be at least 600 words.
Since this is an exam and not a formal essay, it is not necessary to provide formal citations or a Works Cited list, but your responses should include reference to specific formal techniques, images, timestamped moments, etc. You may include screenshots if you like. Feel free to cite any of the readings from the syllabus if it helps you develop your response.
You are welcome to build upon ideas explored in your discussion posts, but your exam should not replicate any writing from those posts. Good luck with your final work!
Performance is obviously central to many different types of film; in the experimental films we have watched in the second half of the class, however, performance is often an object of interrogation itself, rather than being a vehicle for the story or plot. You might consider, for example, the use of dance in experimental films, filmed performance art pieces, or performances intended just for the camera. Choose (at least) two films and compare/contrast the overarching function or purpose of performance. Your films do not have to be chosen just from the modules on Reframing the Body/Dance on Film or Feminist Performance Art; you might consider, for example, the use of performance in the L.A. Rebellion films, Tangerineor the assigned music videos.
In “Defending Black Imagination: The ‘L.A. Rebellion’ School of Black Filmmakers,” Jacqueline Stewart writes: “The ‘L.A. Rebellion’ films present the challenges of black life in Los Angeles self-reflexively, evoking the constant threat to the filmmakers’ own artistic practices as emblematic of the perils faced by black creativity in all its forms. In doing so, these films function not merely as critiques of Hollywood’s representational and business practices but as passionate defenses of black imagination as an essential, even if always imperiled, dimension of black humanity.”
Stewart specifically discusses the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers, but her claims might be extended to the work of other black filmmakers we have watched, such as Julie Dash, Yinka Shonibare, Aviv Maraavi, and Howardena Pindell. Choose (at least) two films and discuss the ways in which they celebrate black creativity and/or depict the perils that threaten such creativity.
3. Reimagining the Human
This course has considered ways in which experimental film reimagines time, space, nature, and visual and auditory perception; but experimental film also provides ways to reimagine or question the very category of the human. In films by Barbara Hammer and Rebecca Horn, and Bjork’s music videos, for example, the boundaries of the human are often contested, and the human is reimagined through its interrelations with objects, animals, machines, or other prosthetic extensions. Choose (at least) two films and compare/contrast how they reimagine the human or its relations with the nonhuman world. I’ve cited examples by Hammer, Horn, and Bjork, but there are other films from the second half of the semester you may want to consider as well.
Module 1 films:
Barbara Hammer, Sanctus (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (链接到外部网站。), 18 min. (1990)
Video Essay: Kogonada, Hands of Bresson (链接到外部网站。), 4 min. (2016)
Yvonne Rainer, Hand Movie (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (链接到外部网站。), 6 min. (1966)
Lorna Simpson, Easy to Remember (Links to an external site.), 3 min. (2001)
Maya Deren, A Study in Choreography for Camera
Julie Dash, Relatives (链接到外部网站。), 8 min. (1989)
Tracey Emin, Why I Never Became a Dancer (链接到外部网站。) (1995)
Yinke Shonibare, Odile and Odette (链接到外部网站。), 14 min. (2005)
Aviv Maaravi, Black Box (链接到外部网站。), 11 min. (2016)
Module 2 film:
Museum of Modern Art notes on (链接到外部网站。)Cut-Piece (链接到外部网站。) (including an MP3 file of Ono)
Yoko Ono, Cut Piece (链接到外部网站。), 9 min. (filmed by Albert and David Maysles, 1966)
Tate Museum’s introduction to Rebecca Horn, “Body Extensions and Isolation” (链接到外部网站。)
Rebecca Horn, Berlin Experiments, (链接到外部网站。) (链接到外部网站。)40 min. (1974/5)
Museum of Modern Art notes on Art Must be Beautiful, Artist Must be Beautiful (链接到外部网站。)(including Abramovic talking about her work)
Marina Abramovic, Art Must be Beautiful, Artist Must be Beautiful (链接到外部网站。), 14 min. (1975)
(链接到外部网站。)Museum of Modern Art notes on Free, White and 21 (链接到外部网站。)
Howardena Pindell, Free, White and 21 (链接到外部网站。), 12 min. (1980)
Module 3 L.A Rebellion :
Bernard Nicolas, Daydream Therapy (1977) https://youtu.be/EotxDfPIEd8 (链接到外部网站。)
Ben Caldwell, Medea (1973)
Ben Caldwell’s Medea, a collage piece made on an animation stand and edited entirely in the camera, combines live action and rapidly edited still images of Africans and African Americans which function like flashes of history that the unborn child will inherit. Caldwell invokes Amiri Baraka’s poem “Part of the Doctrine” in this experimental meditation on art history, Black imagery, identity and heritage. —Allyson Nadia Field
Melvonna Balinger, Rain (Nyesha) (1978)
Director Melvonna Ballenger’s Rain (Nyesha) shows how awareness can lead to a more fulfilling life. In the film, a female typist goes from apathetic to empowered through the help of a man giving out political fliers on the street. Using John Coltrane’s song “After the Rain,” Ballenger’s narration of the film meditates on rainy days and their impact. The rain in this short film doesn’t signify defeat, but offers renewal and “a chance to recollect, a cool out.” —Trisha Lendo
Don Amis, Ujami Uhuru Schule Community Freedom School (1974)
Ujamii Uhuru Schule (Swahili for Community Freedom School) is the day-in-the-life portrait of an Afrocentric primary learning academy located in South Los Angeles. Focusing on the virtues of the three Rs — Respect, Righteousness and Revolution — the curriculum also teaches the importance of cultural values and self-defense. Shot in high contrast to emulate the color spectrum of the Pan-African flag, Don Amis punctuates the documentary with African chants, syncopated drums and poignant narration by the school’s faculty. Learn, baby, learn. —Tony Best
Please have a look at some of the iPhone Cinema (链接到外部网站。) on Vimeo
Sean Baker, Tangerine (链接到外部网站。), 88 min., 2015
Module 5: Contemporary Music Videos:
Massive Attack, “Splitting the Atom” (Edouard Salier, 2009) (链接到外部网站。)
Rihanna, “You Da One
MOdule 6 Animation:
PES, “Fresh Guacamole” (链接到外部网站。)(2013)
PES, “Western Spaghetti,” (链接到外部网站。)(2008)
Georges Méliès, Le Voyage Dans La Lune (链接到外部网站。) (1902)
Nick Park, Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Ou (链接到外部网站。)t (1989)
You can read more about A Grand Day Out here (链接到外部网站。).