Essays

The Global Screen: An Essay Series on Contemporary World Cinema

The Independent Launches New Series Featuring Guest Editor Jayson Baker, Ph.D.

The Independent is excited to launch The Global Screen—a series of bi-monthly essays written by film scholars and academics interested in engaging with our readership of filmmakers, directors, artists, and activists. The series is edited by Dr. Jayson Baker, Honors Program Director and Assistant Professor in Communication at Curry College (Milton, MA). In this introduction, Dr. Baker provides a summary of the series and a context for its purpose at this time. Essays in The Global Screen will be published over the course of the year, beginning at the end of March.

 Movies illuminate the world in motion.  Filmmakers report this world by tracing migratory flows and stoppages of people, and the movement of capital and so-called “development.”  The global stage is seemingly under constant revision.  Various film communities supply the cultural forces—The Global Screen, if you will—exploring through cinema ways populations and institutions of power heretofore precluded from contact must now negotiate each other.  Toward the end of the twentieth century, social-cultural anthropologist Arjun Appadurai anticipates what he labels a global “mediascape,” where “the image, the imagined, the imaginary…direct us to something critical and new in global cultural processes” (Modernity at Large 31).  Appadurai’s mediascapes describe the “rhizomatic world in which we now live.”  Contemporary movies—identified by films produced since the turn to the twenty-first millennium—intervene in the global era by documenting and explaining feelings of dislocation and displacement by established and emerging groups, across privileged and marginalized identities, financially enabled and disadvantaged mobility.

Essays in The Global Screen, therefore, report how the local and foreign, rural and urban intersect, realign, and contest spaces and places.  Filmmakers borrow cinematic forms from each other, produce hybrid genres, and deploy their artistry to address or redress the way national and cultural borders refashion in the global era.  Throughout 2018, The Independent will feature the writing and thinking of emerging and established film scholars charged with deciphering The Global Screen.

Isaac Rooks (University of Southern California) reads the way South Korean horror-comedy Chaw (Shin Jeong-won, 2009) adapts the killer animal trope in ways that make it nationally distinct, while capitalizing on its potential for engaging globally relevant ecological concerns.  Thomas Britt (George Mason University) looks at ways Jonás Cuarón’s Desierto (2016) dramatizes contested spaces along the U.S.-Mexican border and upends the formulaic framework of horror pitting wilderness against civilization.  Joe Cruz (Pennsylvania State University) examines three Puerto Rican short films, The Last Colony (2015), Nueva Yorkino (2015) and El Regalo (2008), as evincing public contestation of national identity happening within and beyond the island territory.  Ilia Chalimourda (University of Athens) theorizes how the transgendered prostitute in Panos Koutras’ Strella (2009) illuminates how precious and highly valued Greek cultural foundations are proven to be highly unstable in the global era. Chae Park (University of Southern California) analyzes three narrative modes in Even the Rain (2010) as revealing both the potential and limitation of politically revolutionary cinema in a Latin American context.

The Global Screen contributors seek to open up conversations with The Independent’s readership by close reading film as artifacts of global thinking and feeling.  Through contemporary world cinema, our writers aim to enlarge the role of film in global discourse.

References

Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. University of Minnesota P, 1996.

Installments:

March: Issac Rooks

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