Author Archives: Queen Mary Postgraduate Film Forum

About Queen Mary Postgraduate Film Forum

Post-production is the postgraduate film forum, run for and by postgraduates at Queen Mary, University of London. We meet once a month to catch up and to discuss our research, with a key paper, snacks and drinks. Here we will be posting notes from our meetings, general comments and forth-coming events in the university. If you have any queries, please email Hollie or Jo.

Christmas Meeting – Julie Lobalzo Wright speaks on ‘What does he have left?’: Will Smith as the eternally young Fresh Prince

Our Christmas meeting will take place on Wednesday 11th December at 5.30pm in G19, Arts One. We look forward to seeing you there!

‘What does he have left?’: Will Smith as the eternally young Fresh Prince

Will Smith has been one of Hollywood’s most popular and bankable stars over the past thirty years. Beginning his career as part of the rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince in the late 1980s, he seamlessly transition to television starring on the popular television series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1990-1996. Playing the character of “Will Smith”, a teenager from West Philadelphia, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air expanded his rap stardom, but did not deviate from his “Fresh Prince” image as part of the rap group. In the mid-1990s, Smith appeared in the blockbuster films Independence Day (1996) and Men in Black (1997), cementing his place as one of Hollywood’s new stars. Although his career has suffered some failures (For instance, Wild Wild West (1999) and After Earth (2013)), his stardom has endured, demonstrating the capacity for his star image to deepen (Dyer, 1998) in the 2000s when he appeared in serious films such as Ali (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). This more adult onscreen image was matched off screen with his marriage to actress Jada Pinkett in 1997 and becoming a father to son Jaden in 1998 and Willow in 2000. The family, including his son Trey from his first marriage, has become the centrepiece of Smith’s star image, co-starring in films with his children (The Pursuit of Happyness, I am Legend (2007) and After Earth), but also including the family in most of his promotional appearances.

On the surface, Smith’s star image appears to have aged, appropriately, from teen rapper to mature Hollywood star and finally, dotting dad, but while these transitions have occurred, in actuality, his star image has not greatly changed from the mid-1980s to today. The young, hip, but overly childlike Fresh Prince image is still evoked today, both in films (especially Smith’s return to the Men in Black series in 2012’s Men in Black III) and personal appearances. This was especially evident throughout the promotion of After Earth, a science-fiction film he co-starred in with his teenage son, Jaden, as Smith often joked with his son as though they were peers. The success of Men in Black 3, and the perfect fit between Smith’s star image and the Agent J character, and the failure of After Earth, a film which presented Smith as a father guiding his son to safety, suggests audiences are most accepting of the juvenile Smith image: flippant, impulsive and humourous.

This paper will explore Smith as an example of a star who may be unable to age due to race and his initial stardom. Beginning his career as a non-threatening image of black masculinity, Smith is confined by his Fresh Prince image and unable to explore more complex black characters (especially in comparison to Denzel Washington). Furthermore, his recent promotional appearances that feature the star rapping the infamous theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air display fans’ nostalgia for Smith’s younger image, and although an accomplished actor and father, the Fresh Prince is inescapable.

fresh prince_print_web

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Next Meeting – PhD and Post-doc Research Panel, Tuesday 26th November 5.30pm

The next meeting of Post Production will take place next week on Tuesday 26th November at 5.30pm in the Francis Bancroft building (Room 1.02.5).

We will be introducing a panel of PhD and post-doctoral researchers who will present short introductions to their projects in order to allow a discussion of the exciting new research going on in the Film Studies department. Details regarding panelists and projects below.

Post Production research panel

Ros Murray – Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Carole Roussopoulos and the Rise of Feminist Video Collectives in 1970s France

This project explores the relationship between video technologies and feminist theory and activism in 1970s France. Portable video technologies arrived in France at the same time as second-wave feminism; the project interrogates the relationship between means and message, asking how do activist videos both represent and actively create, in radically innovative ways, new forms of embodied feminist politics specific to the social issues and contexts they explored? And how did they resist appropriation, at the time, by the institutions they sought to reject? Engaging with debates on materiality in film studies and considering the history of feminist distribution networks in France the project will also examine the politics of the archive and the changing relationship between feminist politics and the institution.

Graiwoot (Tay) Chulphongsathorn – PhD student 

Provisional title – “The Potential of the Forest as a  Non-Anthropocentric Space in Contemporary Art Cinema”.

In this project, which is based on Giorgio Agamben’s theory of  archaeology, I will explore (1) the extent that the filmic forest in  the work of particular contemporary art filmmakers disclose, or  actively construct, a non-anthropocentric space and (2) the relationship between nature, filmic machine, the human and the  nonhuman in such space.

Calvin Fagan – PhD student

Entitled “Digital Media and the Contemporary War Film: Virtuality, Embodiment, Immersion”, Calvin Fagan’s thesis explores the relationship between military applications of digital imaging technologies and the post-9/11 war film. Focussing in particular on UAVs/drones and networked, CG training simulations, the project examines how they have been cinematically represented in films such as Omer Fast’s 5,000 Feet is the Best and Harun Farocki’s Serious Games, as well as considering the wider relationship between such apparently  virtualising technologies and the parallel cinematic trends toward embodied, immersive, and subjective/experiential portraits of warfare.

Hopefully see you all there!

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Next Meeting – Hollie Price speaks on ‘Post-War Dream Palaces: The Ideal Home Exhibition and Magic Spaces of Film’

Ideal_Home_Exhibiton_01_web (1)

Post-war Dream Palaces: The Ideal Home Exhibition and Magic Spaces of Film

In 1947, following a wartime hiatus, the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition was revived in Britain and took place to great popular acclaim. At a time of post-war readjustment, the exhibition allowed visitors to travel through an aspirational landscape of model homes which included mod-cons, technological innovations and gardens. This experience also served as a reminder of the 1930s practice of cinema-going and the popular dream palace. Annette Kuhn suggests that cinemas in the 1930s were simultaneously comforting in their homeliness and in providing a glamorous escape from reality and, in tandem, the home exhibition offered practical, everyday domestic advice as well as a topography of ideal homes. As the artists’ impression of the grand hall in 1949 below shows, the exhibition continued to be presented as a visual, even cinematic, spectacle with the exhibition’s revival, continuing to draw on the experience of cinema-going in the experience of the ideal home.

In the post-war years, as a development of similar displays in the inter-war exhibitions, spaces from on screen were also deliberately drawn upon as part of the visitor experience of the exhibition. Visits of film stars (including British star, Margaret Lockwood’s, as pictured on the right), the Fashion and Film exhibition in 1947 and the gallery of British films (which featured set designs from a number of popular releases) celebrated the ability of film to provide escape into other, onscreen worlds separate from the realms of everyday life. Using research from the Victoria & Albert Museum Archive of Art and Design, this paper will first analyse the role of film at these post-war exhibitions, and the way that this collision of two cultural spaces – film and home – constructs the experience of the exhibition as a heterotopia in its provision of other sites to be explored in a mobile, imaginative way. And, with this in mind, I will suggest that a consideration of the Ideal Home Exhibition as a topography provides a useful mode of analysing the ‘magic’ spaces onscreen in British films themselves in this period.

IMG_4018       Margaret Lockwood 1949

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Reminder – Queen Mary Seminar Series on America, Tuesday 21st May

In Arts Two, room 2:17, at 5 pm on Tuesday, 21 May, Dr. Mark Glancy and Adrian Garvey will talk on ‘Such Expert Play-Acting: Cary Grant and James Mason in ‘”North by Northwest”‘.

Adrian Garvey is a doctoral candidate at Queen Mary, working on James Mason (Adrian has previously spoken at Post Production). Mark Glancy is Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary; author of three books, including ‘When Hollywood Loved Britain’ (1999), with his fourth book due out anon; and has served as guest editor for a special issue of ‘The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television’.

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Next Meeting: Nick Jones speaks on ‘The Appropriation of the Skyline: Body, Spectacle and Urban Space’

Nick Jones - Appropriation of the Skyline

This paper will use the work of Michel de Certeau to think about the spectacles that are produced by the unusual negotiation of the urban skyline, spectacles which work to embody otherwise alienated and alienating sights and sites. From the activities of Phillipe Petit in New York in 1974, when he wire-walked between the World Trade Center towers, to the images of Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa in *Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol* (2011), and the current opportunity to walk over London’s erstwhile Millennium Dome thanks to the *Up at the 02* initiative, architectural icons can be appropriated in ways that directly relate their immense spatialities to human coordinates. With particular reference to action cinema, this paper will explore the potential motives for and consequences of such spectacular tactile engagement.

 

 

This meeting of Post Production will take place on Thursday 25th April at 5.30pm in G34. Nick’s paper will be followed by questions and drinks. See you all there!

 

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A reminder about tonight’s Film History seminar

Later today, at 5.30pm, Mark Glancy will be presenting a paper titled: ‘Nobody Talks Like That! Creating Cary Grant’ as part of the IHR Film History seminar series.

Gordon Room G34, South Block – Senate House. See you there!

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Next Meeting (and first of 2013!): Anat Pick speaks on ‘Animal Life in the Cinematic “Umwelt”‘

post-production_animal-matters

 

From the beginning, we have no doubt that an enclosing world is present, out of which each animal cuts its dwelling-world. As superficial appearance teaches us, each animal encounters in its dwelling-world certain objects with which it has a closer or more distant relationship. —Jakob von Uexküll

A system does not regulate everything. It is a bait for something. — Robert Bresson

This paper explores the idea of cinematic dwelling-worlds in which human and nonhuman animal lives unfold. Thinking André Bazin’s cinematic realism along with Jakob von Uexküll’s biological theory, I explore two very different cinematic environments: Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped (1956), and Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou’s insect documentary Microcosmos (1996). Uexküll named the relationship between an animal and its environment the Umwelt, a concept that speaks not only to film theory, especially realism, but also to our thinking about animal, by which I also mean human, life on screen. Under the rubric of “zoomorphic realism,” each bio-cinematic enclosure raises questions about what it means for a being to have and to fashion its world. My comparison between the two animal Umwelten—of human beings, and of insects—grapples with questions about determinism and freedom as they appear through the prism of cinema.

Microcosmos   Microcosmos (1996)

Man Escaped  A Man Escaped (1956)

This meeting will take place on Thursday 7th March at 5.30pm in G34 Arts One (as always!), with Anat’s paper followed by drinks, snacks and chats!

Hopefully see you all there!

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