Analysis of films in their sociopolitical contexts, including issues of race, class, and gender; relation between film as artform and the politics of culture.
The relation between film and its social context is extremely complex. Rather than proceeding from a universal common film "language," films are made and understood according to a wide range of national, ethnic, economic, and cultural differences which affect not only the content but the very "look" and structure of the films themselves. Furthermore, films can treat issues of class, race, and gender according to dominant cultural assumptions, or they can seek to challenge the existing order with a new kind of vision. For French director Jean-Luc Godard, a political film is not a film about politics, but a film made politically. In the cinema, the arrangement of images and sounds, modes of storytelling and narration, and strategies of address all shape our attitudes about the world we live in. Such issues have been increasingly debated in recent years with the emergence of films which offer a radical challenge to entrenched Western notions of reality. This course will explore the intersection of film and society through various examples of just such intervention and critique, establishing a tradition of Counter-Cinema developed in Europe and Latin America, in order to contextualize the work of current African American filmmakers. Films of Jean-Luc Godard, Glauber Rocha, RW Fassbinder, Spike Lee, Ousmane Sembene, and Julie Dash, among others.