Anonymity: An Analysis of Stranger Comes to Town 

Stranger

by Brendan Boustany, Joalda Morancy, Katerina Stefanescu, Shahrez Aziz, and Zach Cogan

Brendan

I would say that the film is a documentary, in a similar way that Waltz with Bashir is. Both stories rework nonfiction events into artistic images. Still, the stories of the characters remain entirely intact. The artistic style does not interfere with Goss’s goals in terms of the story that she is trying to tell. If anything, her decision to use video game images was simply an artistic choice to emphasize the themes of the film. The strong narrative voice is compelling enough without many visual distractions, so the sparing CGI images do not interfere with the interviews about coming to this country as visual reenactments might. Most importantly, the anonymity that this visual style allows may have been crucial to attaining these interviews. 

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Paris is Burning – Assertive Stance and Construction

Assertions Made in Title Cards 

by Mimi Taylor

In the essay “When is a Documentary?: Documentary As a Mode of Reception” Dirk Eitzen lays out the argument that “what distinguishes documentaries, and nonfiction in general, from fiction” is whether it makes sense to ask the question “Might it be lying?” (89). To support his argument he draws on semiotician Sol Worth’s essay “Pictures Can’t Say Ain’t,” where Worth makes the argument that pictures cannot lie (Eitzen 89). Eitzen extends this argument to “everything in movies that does not have the character of an express metatextual caption or label” (91). According to Eitzen, movies merely represent “a space, action, or event” (91), and “project a world” (91), until some “metatextual caption or label,” usually in the form of a framing device, asserts meaning. In the case of Paris is Burning sometimes the “metatextual caption or label” is a literal label, in the form of a title card.

Paris is Burning imposes meaning on the projected worlds of the movie through these title cards. For instance, early on in the film this title card is shown:

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Paris is Burning as a historical document through the eyes of Judith Butler and Erving Goffman

by Junyoung Choi, Gabriela Horwath, Tomas Pacheco, Alan Countess, and Wyn Veiga

Introduction (Junyoung)

Jennie Livingston’s 1991 documentary Paris is Burning explores the nooks and crannies of Harlem, painting vividly the ball culture’s cultural importance in celebrating the drag style and hitherto marginalized gender norms through the transgender families and their flamboyant fashion shows. 

Observing the endeavors of New York’s ball culture through the lens Livingston has picked out, both writers Judith Butler and Erving Goffman would likely concur that personal and group identities are reinforced socially through dramatic performances, but would fall short of agreeing on whether there truly is an internal core being expressed. However, if the two theorists sat down and spoke to reach a conclusion, they would most likely agree that the many different categories in the balls helped most people participate in the performative act and present their parts while making explicit the rather flexible nature of gender. Finally, both scholars would also be astonished and disturbed by the growing impact of one’s exposure to the media’s mundane normalized social expectations.

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Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal: Analyzing Unintentional Expressions of Art

IMG_1191

by Emily Nagler, Haina Lu, Meagan Johnson, Dylan Kanaan, and Frank Martin

I believe that the short Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal is, in fact, making an assertive claim about the world.  The major claim is that Graffiti Removal is a form of art.  It is comparable to the art of artists like Mark Rothko, or other, early to mid-20th century artists.  The film is attempting to claim that graffiti removal procedures have various styles and is a complex art form.  Anyone who removes graffiti is unaware of their artistic creations, but the film goes as far as to label the various “styles” of graffiti removal art.  They are removing art, but in turn creating art.  I will admit some of the graffiti removal examples do look like art that professional artists create.  The film treats the procedure of removing graffiti as art.  The removal of graffiti is a process completely by the city or the owner of whatever has graffiti on it.  The film treats what seems like a grunt work job the same as professionally painting.  – Frank Martin

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Atlantics as a Horror/Ghost Genre Film

by Zach Cogan, Dylan Kanaan, Gabriela Horwath, Shahrez Aziz, and Meagan Johnson

Though Atlantics sets itself up to be a more of  a mystery and a romance rather than a typical horror movie, its filmmaking styles, as well as its form, do include a lot of imagery, sounds, and tropes traditionally associated with the horror genre, which are broken down below.

The Ocean

One significant element of the film is the class struggle of the Sengelese people, a story of journeying to a foreign land to find menial labor. Prior to the young construction workers leaving for Italy, the audience is graced with a tender moment between Souleiman and Ada with the raging ocean in the background of the scene. The ocean does in fact play on the beauty and intimacy of the characters’ young love, but also create a sinister effect throughout the film. There is a numbness to the waves. The ocean is all-consuming, treacherous, and unpredictable–similar to the relationship between Ada and Souleiman. As seen below, the way the ocean is presented to us defines a lot of the tone in that section of the movie, with the ocean being at its darkest and most sinister in the middle portion of the movie, where the horror aspect is most prevalent. Yet, even when the film ventures into a commentary of class struggles, defining love, and fantasy, the ocean serves as a constant reminder of the mystery of one’s own existence Although we never see the wreck that claims so many lives, the churning waves seems to carry a mystical force or magical entity. This mood later serves the possession of the women, ultimately defining the film as a literal and metaphorical ghost story. 

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Atlantics (2019) and the Romance Genre

by Emily Nagler, Mimi Taylor, Brendan Boustany, Junyoung Choi, and Frank Martin

Something I noticed when watching Atlantics was how often faces, especially those of Ada and Soulemain, were obscured somehow. Sometimes this was because of the way the shot was framed, the lighting, or some other element of the mise-en-scène obscuring them. Here’s the first times we see Ada and Soulemain:

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