All posts by Carly Loveman

Accented Cinema

Accented Filmmakers- from the Third World or post-colonial countries that live now in cosmopolitan places; not fully immersed in one country or culture- stuck in between.

  • work independently from the studio
  • Not a film movement or a group of filmmakers as a whole
  • “They have earned the right to speak and have dared to capture the means of representation” (979).
    1. Exilic Filmmakers- banishment for a particular offense (internal or external)
      1. internal- restrictions, censorship, and deprivation in their country-some want to stay to make a difference for the cause and fight
      2. mostly talks about external exiles- left their homeland willingly or forced, and still have a relationship with their people/want to go back.
      3. Memorialize their homeland through film- “Exilic banishment encourages creativity” – authorship
      4. exiles are “both and neither” → hybrid or fragmented
    1. Diasporic Filmmakers- begins with trauma or disruption- and involves the scattering of populations to outside places
      1. different from exile because the dispersion is sometimes because of work, trade, or imperial desire.
      2. collective- a group of people in diaspora – maintain a “long-term sense of ethnic consciousness and distinctiveness
    1. Ethnic Filmmakers- postcolonial are both exilic and diasporic, but differ from the poststudio American ethnics.
      1. immigrants themselves or born to non-white, non-Western
      2. focus more on their racial and ethnic identity within their host country
      3. hyphen- people are subordinate (African-American, Latino-American)- equal but not quite.
      4. the discourse of these films are narrowed- audiences read the films in terms of their ethnic content instead of their authorial vision or style.

“Exilic cinema is dominated by its focus on there and then in the homeland, diasporic cinema by its vertical relationship to the homeland and by its lateral relationship to the diaspora communities and experiences, and postcolonial ethnic and identity cinema by the exigencies of life here and now in the country in which they reside”(983).

  1. The Stylistic Approach- films are classified into categories which can limit the potential meanings of the film.
  2. “ideological constructs masquerading as neutral categories”
    1. “accented style”- the group style- consistent use of technique across the work’s of several directors → this book’s main focus
    2. encompasses characteristics common to the works of differently situated filmmakers involved in varied decentered social formations and cinematic practices across the globe. (986).
    3. components of accented style = visual style, narrative structure, character development, subject matter, theme, and plot, structures of feeling exiled, location, and distribution.

III.  Accented Style- displaced filmmaker’s style shows their dislocation in film as well as shows them as authors. They have a double consciousness- the voices from cinematic traditions and voice from exile and diasporic tradition

  1. Language, Voice, Address- it is impossible to speak without an accent; accent is one of the “most intimate and powerful markers of group identity and solidarity, and difference and personality.
    1. all exilic and diasporic films are accented- pronunciation is to structure- its narrative, visual style, characters, subject matter, theme, and plot.
    2. character’s literal accent in these films is ethnically encoded
    3. accented filmmakers insist on writing dialogue in their original language- loss of accent or language once exiled is a big fear.
    4. often multilingual, with voice-over narration, and subtitles
  2. Border Effects, Border Writing
    1. unpack paragraph starting with, “Since border subjectivity…” (991).
    2. what is a “shifter”? What is it’s relation to accented cinema?
    3. many accented filmmakers are shifters themselves- base films on their border crossing experiences- fear of illegality and conflicted identities
  3. Themes
    1. Journeys are a major theme of accented films
    2. motivation, duration, and direction
    3. types: return journeys or escape journeys
    4. also metaphorical or philosophical journeys of identity
  4. Authorship and Autobiographical Inscription
    1. construction of both the author and spectator
    2. “Accented film authors are literally and figuratively everyday journeymen and journeywoman who are driven off or set free from their places of origin, by force or by choice, on agonizing quests that require displacements and emplacements so profound, personal, and transformative as to shape not only the authors themselves and their films but also the question of authorship” (993).
    3. authorial and autobiographical which makes them unique
  • accented style is not a recognized film genre
  • accented style is not hermetic, homogenous, or autonomous- it evolves and changes

Discussion Question: On page 978

What does Naficy mean  by his suggestion that mainstream Hollywood films are “accent free”?

I left class today wondering if television will ever be able to represent a race or group of people in a positive, non-stereotypical way. Color Adjustment (1991) showed through television’s history that this might not be possible. At the end of the film, the words “reality is being re-adjusted for you” are showed on the screen. Basically, television and films can never show true reality, it is always constructed in order for high ratings and expectations of audiences. People become trapped in their roles.

Yes, this is still going on today. The show Empire premiered earlier this year in January. It is about a man who runs his own hip hop record label called Empire Entertainment, and it focuses on the family dynamic of his wife and three sons. Critics have said that this show reinforces black stereotypes instead of them. Terrence Howard plays the hip hop mongol named Lucious Lyon who represents this criminal, animalistic, black brute that is often depicted of black men in the media. Even more stereotypical is his wife’s character Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson, who plays this “angry-black woman” with a hot temper and loud mouth.

These black stereotypes are different than the ones we clown-like, comic character we saw in the movie. But they are still negative stereotypes nonetheless.

Here are links to see more about the shows reviews on negative racial stereotyping:

“Something Else Besides a Mother” in Mamma Mia

After reading Linda William’s “Something Else Besides a Mother” and watching Mamma Mia, I recognized the similarities and differences. Williams goes into detail on analyzing the film Stella Dallas and its feminist criticism. What the main character Stella is trying to achieve is to be both a woman and a mother. In the end, this proves to be impossible as she is stripped of both titles. I think that Donna in Mamma Mia tries to do this, and in contrast is successful in doing so. Her character is strong throughout, as she raised her daughter Sophie and ran a hotel all on her own, without the help of a patriarch. On the other hand, Williams said, according to patriarchal society, “that it is not possible to combine womanly desire with motherly duty”. I think that the film shows this to be true in some ways, which I did not expect to think.

Donna has put her relationships with men on hold while she puts all her effort into being a mother. Donna was a mother, not a woman. Towards the end, she finally shows her womanly desire for a husband (Sam). Something that bothered me was that while watching this film again through a feminist point of view, it might not be as powerful for females as it appears.  After Donna marries Sam, Sophie and Sky leave that night to go travel the world and follow their dreams. In that instant she sort of loses her responsibility as a mother. Donna was a woman, not a mother. She was no longer this independent woman, she had become overwhelming happy in the end just because she now has a man. She proves that a woman can’t have desires and be a woman, which is just what Stella realized in the end of Stella Dallas. Donna’s friends even are good examples of this. They are both sexualized woman who love to have fun and fulfill desires, and both do not have any children. (at least Aunt Tayna’s children were never mentioned and she did not seem like a mother). They had to choose womanly desires over motherhood.

The “happy ending” happened for every character. The girl ended up with the guy. I think the ending in some ways deters from this feminist empowerment.

Outsider of The Celebration

As I watched The Celebration (1998), I felt like an outsider looking in. There were shots that almost reminded me of surveillance video. When Helene and her friend were lifting the white sheets off of the furniture in her dead sisters room, the shot was from upper ceiling corner. It just seemed like we weren’t actually there, but rather watching from a far. I started to think maybe the shot was supposed to be from the perspective of the dead sister. It was her room when a lot of these sort of shots were used, so maybe it was because she was looking in on them.

The directors Vow of Chastity says that, “My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations”(690-1). The film was truthful and showed the reality because it followed the ten rules.  However, because of the jump cuts and dramatic change of shots, I was very aware of the camera. I am not sure if that is because I was there to analyze the film, but the sense of reality and truthfulness seemed to slip away because of that awareness.

Adaptation of Macbeth

A film adaptation of literature is successful if it has stayed faithful to the novel. Beyond Fidelity: The Dialogics of Adaptation by Robert Stam points of that fidelity is key, but he questions if this is even possible in adaptations. Fidelity is when a film stays true to the most important components and fundamentals of the novel. Even if a director is “faithful” to what is being adapted, there is always going to be a difference. Stam says, “an adaptation is automatically different because and original due to the change of medium” (Stam 543). The mise-en-scene, lighting, and editing changes everything. He goes on to discuss different approaches of adaptations. A film can just capture the essence of the film, or it can be translated and transformed into a whole new twist. The plots and characters can be used from a literary text and transformed into a whole new world in a film.


Maqbool (2003) is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. After watching this film, I would say that it didn’t say 100% faithful or truthful to the novel, which I think is completely impossible to do anyways. It was a transformation, where the film took the plot, characters, and themes, into a whole new setting/time. The themes of death, tragedy, paranoia, and guilt, were very apparent in the film, which is what themes were essential to the novel. The director, Bhardwaj, stayed true to Maqbool and Nimmi seeing blood that wasn’t actually there- showing the guilt of being murderers. If I had watched this prior to knowing it was an adaptation of Macbeth, I would have never known.

I think most film adaptations of literature are failures. I always hear people ask, “Which did you like better- the movie or the book?” Almost always, the response is the book. I believe that this is true because people who read the novels have created their own images. Reading allows someone to explore their own imagination and create their own world during the novel. When watching the film adaptation, you are watching someone elses interpretation of what that world looks like. It’s disorienting and honestly disappointing. Some adaptations are successful and some are not, and I think Maqbool can be up for debate.

Thoughts on Ghost Dog

Jim Jarmusch directed Ghost Dog (1999) and played around with different genres, which relates to our discussions of genre theory. He created this hybrid of the two genres, Italian American Gangster and African American Gangster, that are talked about in Chapter 2 of Understanding Film Theory.

Ghost Dog

Italian American Gangster

Semantics- mafia/mob, violence, Italian accents, gold chains/watches, white tanks, smoking cigars, guns, family ties

African American Gangster

Semantics- inner-city, rap, chains, violence, low-income, racism, guns, gangs

I am curious, what were the other genres (if any) that were also included in the film?

The two different types of gangsters in this film are meant to mirror each other. I believe this shows the changing of time. The Italian mob  men, like Louis, represent the old, classic gangsters who are very old-fashioned. The African American gangsters represent the new image or identity of gangsters in the 90s. The changing of time was brought up many times throughout the film.  Ghost Dog says to Louis, “Everything is changing around us”. Also, one of the Italian mob men mentioned that Ghost Dog killed like “the old way- like real fucking gangsters”. I just noticed a constant mention of the “old way” and “change”. I’m not sure what the exact message is of this, but Ghost Dog said towards the end of the movie that people should “stick with the ancient ways”.

Reoccurring themes:

Racism, Equality, Animals (birds, bears, dogs), Asian culture, Literature

One thing I never really understood the meaning of throughout the film was Louise watching cartoons. I understood towards the end that the cartoons mirrored what was going on in the movie, but I was wondering if there was another deeper meaning for this? Thoughts?


Man with a Movie Camera

The discussion in class of the film we watched today, “Man with a Movie Camera” by Vertov in 1929, brought attention to the main purpose of this film. When I was watching it, I wrote down in my notes, “camera is seeing”. That was my quick way of saying what Annie put brilliantly in class when she said, “the camera is an extension of your eye”. Vertov shows this when he puts the shot of an eye into the lens of the camera. He does this a couple times throughout the film. Also, when the woman wakes up and is opening the shades, Vertov cuts to the lens of a camera slowly closing. He mirrors images a lot in this film. I believe he does this to show what cinema can do. The camera can do so much more than just the human eye can.

Vertov’s film reminded me of a  Lumiere film because he shows a lot of events that are regular and happen during every day life. For example, he shoots people getting their hair done, their shoes shined, doing laundry, getting a manicure. These are normal events. However, the way he edits them together and mirrors  the events shows that he is creating a different kind of story line and meaning with the use of the camera and editing. He is definitely manipulating reality in this film, which in fact would be more like a Melies film. The camera stand appears to be setting itself up, with no people around. The chairs in the movie theater go down even though no one is there doing that action. In class, I said that it was showing the magic of cinema. But really it shows the manipulation of reality.

Something else that really interested me was the repetition use of transportation. Throughout the entire film, there were shots of trains, bikes, horse and buggies, cars, planes, and boats. I believe that Vertov used these images to represent the movement of film. It shows that it is a new art form that has sprung from the stillness of photography into this great new movement of images.

Distortion of Reality

Watching At Land (1944) by Maya Deren made me feel disoriented. One minute this woman is climbing up tree branches on the beach, and the next she is climbing across a table in a smoke filled room with people on both sides of her. There are many more examples of jumping from one place of scenery to the next which confuses the audience. This film plays with the idea of reality. The shots put together in the montage make it seem like two completely different objects are meant to go together. So after the disorientation, I suddenly understood. Deren put these images together, one after the other, to distort reality. And somehow the cuts made sense. The shots mirrored each other and made a nice story that actually included continuous themes and objects.

I realized the same thing during Run Lola Run (1989). The film was very disorienting. The blurry shots of people walking around in the beginning, not being able to see actual faces or scenery. Later on it would change from Lola in human form to Lola in cartoon form. I was just really confused during the whole film on what was real and what was a distortion of reality. Which scenario was the real outcome?

I guess both of these films were created to confuse the audience. To make them think in an artistic way and to think outside of the box. To think outside the realm of reality.


Towards the end of class, we started discussing the barrier of the fence that restricted the young Truffaut from reaching images of the movie Citizen Kane. I believe this barrier represents the problems that went into the making of his film “Meet Pamela”. Truffaut runs into problems left and right. One of the actresses needs to be in a bathing suit but refuses because she is pregnant. Another actress is too drunk to perform her lines. The main character dies and the script needs to be rewritten. Alfonse and Julie are both on the verge of mental breakdowns which makes it impossible to keep shooting.

As the director, Truffaut has to deal with all of these problems. It gives him severe anxiety throughout, which explains his reoccurring dream as a young boy on the street. In both the dream and real life, Truffaut gets around these barriers. As a young boy he reaches through the fence and slyly grabs the images of Citizen Kane. As a director, he fixes all the problems he encounters some way or another.

I believe these barriers are true to what happens with film making. It is a challenge and directors, as well as actors, are always being tested. Barriers symbolize the difference between reality and make believe in films. The actors in La Nuit Americane get mixed up with what is real life and what is acting. For example, Julie and Alfonse, characters of love interest in the film, end up together in bed even though Julie is happily married. Boundaries were broken, and the actors often said they were quitting films, it was just too hard. I think there is a constant struggle with people involved with films, going back and forth between these boundaries (or barriers) of reality and film.