A Significant Blog

AWARENESS is CFilm’s public series of free films engaging with vital social, political, and cultural issues. Now in its third year, the series brings Middletown and campus communities together to confront and discuss a wide range of fascinating and sometimes difficult subjects. This year’s films included The Departure, The Rape of Recy Taylor, Paper Lanterns, Age of Consequence, and Destruction of Memory. The series concluded last Tuesday with the Indian documentary An Insignificant Man followed by a discussion with co-director Kushboo Ranka and Anthropology Professor Anu Sharma. Swapnil Rai, who taught CFILM’s course in Bollywood Cinema last fall, moderated the session. Afterward, she shared a few thoughts about the film:

An Insignificant Man is an observational documentary about a very unique moment in Indian politics, the rise of the Common Man Party (Aam Aadmi Party, AAP). It documents the early years of AAP, from the party’s inception as an anti-corruption movement, to its culmination as the ruling party in the state of New Delhi. This documentary is compelling for two reasons. First, it gives the viewer a singular and insightful glimpse into a unique democratic process; the formation of a political party from the grassroots level. Second, it very effectively utilizes the observational documentary form. The filmmakers Vinay Shukla and Khushboo Ranka filmed for over 400 hours with their unobtrusive DSLR camera to then crystallize that footage into a crisp 100 min narrative. Their documentary gives the audience an uninhibited and honest look into the emergence of AAP and reveals the machinations behind the political haze. Four years hence, the AAP has lost its idealism and devolved into just another political party. This time capsule of their incredible rise is euphoric nonetheless.



It appears you have stumbled upon the Wesleyan College of Film and the Moving Image: The Social Media Experience! Welcome!

Consider this here blog your virtual access point to CFILM’s guts– who we are, what’s happening, ways to get involved. We’ll update every week with goings-on, thoughts on film, and the Wesleyan CFILM podcast (!), so check frequently to stay up-to-date. Have fun! Watch Closely! And be safe!

The Cinema of Horror Comes to the Rick Nicita Gallery

BE AFRAID… BE VERY AFRAID…. The Cinema of Horror

Archive Posters at the Rick Nicita Gallery

This month, the Rick Nicita Gallery space in the Center for Film Studies opened an exhibit of horror film posters from the Wesleyan Film Archive. This show coincides with the Cinema of Horror class that I’m teaching this semester, and so I wrote up a brief discussion of the genre and its advertising, which I’m posting here. The Gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays 12 – 4pm.

Horror began creeping into cinema in 1896 when George Méliès directed his trick film The House of the Devil. It haunted 1920s Germany in expressionist masterpieces like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu. The term “horror film,” however, first appeared in 1932 during the great plague of Hollywood monster movies touched off by Universal Studios with Dracula a year before. The genre has stalked our screens ever since, with outbreaks cropping up in the 1950s, late 1960s, mid 1980s, late 1990s and an unrelenting apocalyptic siege encouraged by digital distribution over the past decade. There is no escape.

For young filmmakers, horror films offer a primer on how to play with expectations and move viewers with image and sound. The genre thrives at lower budgets, encourages flamboyant style, needs no stars, and tends to be critic-proof. As genre built on suggestion, horror also has long been a vehicle for social commentary. Caligari  (1919) refracted the trauma of WWI, Night of the Living Dead (1968) repurposed imagery from the Vietnam War, and Get Out (2017) documents American racism.  Horror movies can deal with subjects otherwise reserved for somber “issue films,” and they reach huge audiences along the way.

Most of us, though, go to horror films to be scared, and producers are more than happy to oblige. The posters here all guarantee terror for the price of admission. In this, they reflect cinema’s roots in the fairground side show.  Like a huckster daring patrons to enter a tent, horror advertising promises unspeakable thrills in exchange for a few dollars. The designs offer tantalizing glimpses of what lays inside, just enough to raise your curiosity and send your imagination into the dark. Carnival-barker text challenges you.The poster for Dracula’s Daughter (1936) promises that “She gives you that weird feeling.”


Frankenstein’s (1932) producers “Dare You To See It!”


And, echoing the famous campaign for Jaws, the Suspiria (1977) poster threatens “You Will Never Again Feel Safe In The Dark.”

The exhibit’s showstopper, though, must be the poster for The Chamber of Horrors (1966), a film so intense it requires an “audio-visual warning system” to tell you when to “shut your eyes and hold your ears.”

As this collection of posters attest, horror is the original exploitation genre. Could any movie be best enjoyed with closed eyes and covered ears? We dare you to find out!






The CFILM Podcast! Episode 1! With Ed Decter!

With the launch of the CFILM blog comes the launch of the CFILM podcast! With no less than three alumni here to discuss life after Wesleyan! In this episode Allis Cronan (’17) and Kiley Rossetter (’17) interview director, screenwriter, producer, show-runner, and AFI professor Ed Decter (’79).

They also discuss the Wesleyan at AFI pilot program, happening this summer. The workshop, made possible by Professor Jeanine Basinger’s decade’s long relationship with the AFI, is open to CFILM graduates of 2017 and 2018. If you are interested in learning more, contact Scott Higgins, Director of C-Film: shiggins@wesleyan.edu


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