FILM 099 Film and the Arts
In the period between the 1910s and the 1960s, when it emerged as the major art of the twentieth century, cinema has been regularly compared to and thought in terms of other arts. To this day, film continues to draw on this relation self-reflectively. The course focuses on cinema’s historical and aesthetic interactions with fiction, theater, and painting, but students are given space to investigate other parallels, such as those between film and music or film and architecture. Topics include adaptation, medium specificity, and intermediality. Assignments are designed to encourage the use of Yale’s libraries and museums.
Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.
FILM 150 Introduction to Film Studies
A survey of film studies concentrating on theory, analysis, and criticism. Students learn the critical and technical vocabulary of the subject and study important films in weekly screenings.
Prerequisite for the major.
FILM 161 Introductory Film Writing and Directing
Problems and aesthetics of film studied in practice as well as in theory. In addition to exploring movement, image, montage, point of view, and narrative structure, students photograph and edit their own short videotapes. Emphasis on the writing and production of short dramatic scenes. Priority to majors in Art and in Film & Media Studies.
FILM 162 Introductory Documentary Filmmaking
The art and craft of documentary filmmaking. Basic technological and creative tools for capturing and editing moving images. The processes of research, planning, interviewing, writing, and gathering of visual elements to tell a compelling story with integrity and responsibility toward the subject. The creation of nonfiction narratives. Issues include creative discipline, ethical questions, space, the recreation of time, and how to represent “the truth.”
FILM 209 Classics of German Cinema: From Haunted Screen to Hyperreality
This course introduces students to German films of the Weimar, Nazi, post-war and post-wall period. In exploring issues of class, gender, nation, migration, and conflict by means of close analysis, the course seeks to sensitize students to the cultural context of these films and the changing socio-political and historical climates in which they arose. Special attention is paid to the issue of film style. We also reflect on what constitutes the “canon” when discussing films, especially those of recent vintage. Directors include Robert Wiene, F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Lotte Reiniger, Leni Riefenstahl, Alexander Kluge, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Andreas Dresen, Christian Petzold, Jessica Hausner, Michael Haneke, Angela Schanelec, Barbara Albert.
Taught in English.
FILM 233 Children and Schools in Global Cinema
Children have long been, and remain, the target of many films. They precipitated some of the earliest studies of the new medium and its regulation as well. But this seminar turns the tables on the premise that children have also been dangerous for the cinema. As subjects and actors in films, they have proven recalcitrant, unpredictable, combustible; in short, they have behaved as children often do. Insofar as cinema is an institution, children must be disciplined to ensure its smooth operation. And yet much of what is valuable in cinema involves the very unpredictability that is natural in children. This seminar operates as a dialogue between education and cinema across the living bodies of children. We give the cinema and children the first and last words in this dialogue, ‘education’ being asked to learn, not teach. We defamiliarize education by bringing into our classroom children and films foreign to the United States, including films from France, Africa, Iran, and East Asia
Foundations in Education Studies recommended.
FILM 246 Introduction to African American Cinema
This course examines the history of African American cinema from the turn of the twentieth century through the present. In recent years, there has been a growing sense that, after decades of unequal hiring practices, black filmmakers have carved a space for artistic creation within Hollywood. This feeling was emboldened when Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther became the highest grossing film of the 2018, seemingly heralding a new age of black-authored and black-focused cinema. This course examines the long history of black cinema that led to the financial and critical success of filmmakers like Coogler, Ava DuVernay, and Jordan Peele. In this course, we survey the expansive work of black American cinema and ask: is there such a category as black film/cinema? If so, is that category based on the director, the actor, the subject matter or ideology of the film? What political, aesthetic, social, and personal value does the category of black film/cinema offer? Some of the filmmakers include Barry Jenkins, Kathleen Collins, Spike Lee, Julie Dash„ Oscar Micheaux, Ava Duvernay, and Charles Burnett.
FILM 307 East Asian Martial Arts Film
The martial arts film has not only been a central genre for many East Asian cinemas, it has been the cinematic form that has most defined those cinemas for others. Domestically, martial arts films have served to promote the nation, while on the international arena, they have been one of the primary conduits of transnational cinematic interaction, as kung-fu or samurai films have influenced films inside and outside East Asia, from The Matrix to Kill Bill. Martial arts cinema has become a crucial means for thinking through such issues as nation, ethnicity, history, East vs. West, the body, gender, sexuality, stardom, industry, spirituality, philosophy, and mediality, from modernity to postmodernity. It is thus not surprising that martial arts films have also attracted some of the world’s best filmmakers, ranging from Kurosawa Akira to Wong Kar Wai. This course focuses on films from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea—as well as on works from other countries influenced by them—covering such martial arts genres such as the samurai film, kung-fu, karate, wuxia, and related historical epics. It provides a historical survey of each nation and genre, while connecting them to other genres, countries, and media.
FILM 325 German Cinema 1918–1933
The years between 1918 and 1933 are the Golden Age of German film. In its development from Expressionism to Social Realism, this German cinema produced works of great variety, many of them in the international avantgarde. This introductory seminar gives an overview of the silent movies and sound films made during the Weimar Republic and situate them in their artistic, cultural, social, and political context between WWI and WWII, between the Kaiser’s German Empire and the Nazis’ Third Reich. Further objectives include: familiarizing students with basic categories of film studies and film analysis; showing how these films have shaped the history and the language of film; discussing topic-oriented and methodological issues such as: film genres (horror film, film noir, science fiction, street film, documentary film); set design, camera work, acting styles; narration in film; avantgarde cinema; the advent and use of sound in film; Realism versus Expressionism; film and popular mythology; melodrama; representation of women; modern urban life as spectacle; film and politics. Directors studied include: Grune, Lang, Lubitsch, Murnau, Pabst, Richter, Ruttmann, Sagan, von Sternberg, Wiene, et al.
FILM 327 Studies in Documentary Film
This course examines key works, crucial texts, and fundamental concepts in the critical study of non-fiction cinema, exploring the participant-observer dialectic, the performative, and changing ideas of truth in documentary forms.
FILM 329 Black Film and Theatre
This course examines the numerous connections, networks, and associations between black film and black theatre across the latter half of the twentieth century. While there has been a resurgence of interest in black theatre on and off Broadway in recent years, we look at critical works created by black writers who created spaces, slid into the cracks, and opened wide the chasms of possibility between cinema and drama. We ask: how have black artists used these two mediums to articulate a political consciousness? How have black writers built, ruptured, and amended the demands required by cultural institutions like Broadway and Hollywood? We investigate the tensions between ideas of the universal and the specific, all the while attending to the complex and complicated possibilities across two different mediums: cinema and the stage. The question of authorship in the move from stage to screen will be omnipresent as we ask what kinds of performances are possible and what new worlds can be created in those transitions?
FILM 330 The Screenwriter's Craft
A rigorous writer’s workshop. Students conjure, write, rewrite, and study films. Read screenplays, view movie clips, parse films, and develop characters and a scenario for a feature length screenplay. By the end of term, each student will have created a story outline and written a minimum of fifteen pages of an original script. All majors welcome.
Application required. Please find the link to the application form on the syllabus.
FILM 341 Weird Greek Wave Cinema
The course examines the cinematic production of Greece in the last fifteen years or so and looks critically at the popular term “weird Greek wave” applied to it. Noted for their absurd tropes, bizarre narratives, and quirky characters, the films question and disturb traditional gender and social roles, as well as international viewers’ expectations of national stereotypes of classical luminosity―the proverbial “Greek light”―Dionysian exuberance, or touristic leisure. Instead, these works frustrate not only a wholistic reading of Greece as a unified and coherent social construct, but also the physical or aesthetic pleasure of its landscape and its ‘quaint’ people with their insistence on grotesque, violent, or otherwise disturbing images or themes (incest, sexual otherness and violence, aggression, corporeality, and xenophobia). The course also pays particular attention on the economic and political climate of the Greek financial crisis during which these films are produced and consumed and to which they partake.
FILM 342 Global Korean Cinema
In recent times, world cinema has witnessed the rise of South Korean cinema as an alternative to Hollywood and includes many distinguished directors such as Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, Kim Ki-duk, and Bong Joon-ho. This course explores the Korean film history and aesthetics from its colonial days (1910-1945) to the hallyu era (2001-present), and also analyzes several key texts that are critical for understanding this field of study. How is Korean cinema shaped by (re)interpretations of history and society? How do we understand Korean cinema vis-à-vis the public memories of the Korean War, industrialization, social movements, economic development, and globalization? And how do aesthetics and storytelling in Korean cinema contribute to its popularity among local spectators and to its globality in shaping the contours of world cinema? By deeply inquiring into such questions, students learn how to critically view, think about, and write about film. Primary texts include literature and film. All films are screened with English subtitles.
FILM 350 Screenwriting
A beginning course in screenplay writing. Foundations of the craft introduced through the reading of professional scripts and the analysis of classic films. A series of classroom exercises culminates in intensive scene work.
Prerequisite: FILM 150. Not open to freshmen.
FILM 351 Documentary, Fiction, Docufiction
A seminar on the relationship between nonfictional and fictional media practice, with a particular focus on the “docufiction” form. Topics to be discussed include debates over the coherence of the notion of “documentary”; the epistemological and political claims of fiction and documentary; and the relationship of documentary and fictional practice to questions of nationhood, ethnicity, and gender. Films by directors such as Vertov, Eisenstein, Shub, Flaherty, Ivens, Visconti, Varda, Makavejev, Trinh Minh-ha, Costa, and Kiarostami.
FILM 366 Spotlight on Sicily in Literature and Film
Sicily has always occupied a privileged place in the Italian imagination. The course focuses on a series of fictional works and films―from the early 20th century until today―which reveal how this island has served as a vital space for cinematic experimentation and artistic self-discovery. Topics range from unification history, the Mafia, the migrant crisis, environmental issues, gender, and social/sexual mores. The course is taught in English, but those who wish to enroll for credit towards the certificate in Italian, or the major, can make arrangements to do so.
FILM 393 Early Modern Media
How did ideas move in the early modern world across time and place, between people and things? Looking beyond art history’s traditional understanding of “medium” as referring to what a work of art is made from, this seminar explores the broader range of “media” that were central to discourse and debates about faith, politics, and the natural world during a period of great technological innovation and global expansion, as well as violence, upheaval, and uncertainty. Focusing on Dutch art, science, and thought during the long seventeenth century—a context in which experiments with media at home and encounters with media from abroad were especially charged, our discussions range from optics to navigation, theology to mathematics, landscape to microscape, clocks to cannons, and shells to flowers. Readings both historical and theoretical complement several visits to study works firsthand in nearby collections.
FILM 404The Tracking Shot
Theoretical exploration of genealogy, technology, and aesthetics of the tracking shot, a major instrument of mobility in film achieved by affixing a camera to a moving object. Study of tracking shot lineage in extra-cinematic moving practices, while looking at dramatic, kinetic, optical, and psychological possibilities offered by the mobile camera. Readdress significant concepts of film theory by examining the tracking shot from early cinema to digital works.
FILM 433 Family Narratives/Cultural Shifts
This course looks at films that are redefining ideas around family and family narratives in relation to larger social movements. We focus on personal films by filmmakers who consider themselves artists, activists, or agents of change but are united in their use of the nonfiction format to speak truth to power. In different ways, these films use media to build community and build family and ultimately, to build family albums and archives that future generations can use to build their own practices. Just as the family album seeks to unite people across time, space, and difference, the films and texts explored in this course are also journeys that culminate in linkages, helping us understand nuances of identity while illuminating personal relationships to larger cultural, social, and historical movements.
FILM 455 Documentary Film Workshop
A yearlong workshop designed primarily for majors in Film and Media Studies or American Studies who are making documentaries as senior projects.
Seniors in other majors admitted as space permits.
FILM 471 Independent Directed Study
For students who wish to explore an aspect of film and media studies not covered by existing courses. The course may be used for research or directed readings and should include one lengthy essay or several short ones as well as regular meetings with the adviser. To apply, students should present a prospectus, a bibliography for the work proposed, and a letter of support from the adviser to the director of undergraduate studies. Term credit for independent research or reading may be granted and applied to any of the requisite areas upon application and approval by the director of undergraduate studies.
FILM 483 Advanced Film Writing and Directing
A yearlong workshop designed primarily for majors in Art and in Film & Media Studies making senior projects. Each student writes and directs a short fiction film. The first term focuses on the screenplay, production schedule, storyboards, casting, budget, and locations. In the second term students rehearse, shoot, edit, and screen the film.
Priority to majors in Art and in Film & Media Studies. Prerequisite: ART 341.
FILM 487 Advanced Screenwriting
Students write a feature-length screenplay. Emphasis on multiple drafts and revision. Admission in the fall term based on acceptance of a complete step-sheet outline for the story to be written during the coming year.
Primarily for Film & Media Studies majors working on senior projects. Prerequisite: FILM 395 or permission of instructor.
FILM 491 The Senior Essay
An independent writing and research project. A prospectus signed by the student’s adviser must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies by the end of the second week of the term in which the essay project is to commence. A rough draft must be submitted to the adviser and the director of undergraduate studies approximately one month before the final draft is due. Essays are normally thirty-five pages long (one term) or fifty pages (two terms).
FILM 493 The Senior Project
For students making a film or video, either fiction or nonfiction, as their senior project. Senior projects require the approval of the Film and Media Studies Committee and are based on proposals submitted at the end of the junior year. An interim project review takes place at the end of the fall term, and permission to complete the senior project can be withdrawn if satisfactory progress has not been made. For guidelines, consult the director of undergraduate studies.
Does not count toward the fourteen courses required for the major when taken in conjunction with FILM 455, 456 or FILM 483, 484.