Central European Cinemas within the Context of the World Cinema
Name of lecturer(s)
Nicholas David HUDAC
Learning outcomes of the course unit
Throughout the semester, this course will teach students how to approach the cultural and historical elements which are the backbone of every film, while also applying film and cultural theory to a variety of visual media. Students will also gain a deeper appreciation of cultural history and how it relates to their own creative processes, with the aim of giving students tools useful in all aspects of the filmmaking process. Students will also learn how to present their ideas and analysis in a clear, concise, and above all, effective manner.
Mode of study
This course will be structured as a hybrid course for this semester, with an online and an in-person component. This structure can and may change without warning to reflect the Czech government and AMU's approach to the on-going Coronavirus-19 pandemic. I will do my best to keep students informed of any changes that occur during the semester.
As the semester begins, students who are vaccinated and abide by AMU's COVID-19 policies will be expected to attend class in-person. Students who cannot attend class in-person due to visa reasons, health reasons, or quarantine will have the available to follow the lectures online, through various online platforms. In the case of students who are attending the class online, it is the student's responsibility to discuss any technical problems, concerns, or user errors ahead of time. Office hours will be online by appointment, and only in person for students who are vaccinated, as long as health regulations permit it.
This course will feature a weekly 2-hour lecture along with a 2-hour screening/discussion section. What this means in practice is that each week, I will deliver an introductory lecture on the week’s keywords and films (covering basic concepts, historical background information, theory, as well as excerpts from relevant films or visual media) and theme. For most weeks, the rest of the class time will be spent in active discussion of the week’s assigned readings, previously watched films, and so on. Following that, there will be a short (5 minute) break for students to stretch their legs, smoke, get snacks, and so on, and then we will watch clips from the scheduled films for the week.
One of the key skills taught in a college education is the ability to communicate clearly and concisely, while thinking critically about the material at hand.
Students are required to complete one midterm essay (4 pages minimum, maximum 7), focused on one or two films from a given avant-garde movement, analyzing how the given movement’s concepts, techniques, or theoretical aims manifest in practice. Suggested essay topics will be distributed two weeks before the midterm, but students are allowed to write on any theme that personally interests them as long it is discussed with me beforehand. Papers that do not meet the length requirements will be penalized. Students are always welcome to meet and discuss paper topics with me at any time, or via email. STUDENTS WHO ARE MORE COMFORTABLE WRITING IN CZECH, SLOVAK, GERMAN, OR RUSSIAN CAN CHOOSE TO DO SO IN ANY WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS.
Academic dishonesty: cheating and plagiarism will be treated in the appropriately severe manner. When writing papers, always use your own words and concepts; if quoting or appropriating from any outside sources (be they the Internet, books, articles, etc.) and/or scholars, always indicate that you are quoting and provide sources (Chicago Manual of Style footnotes, preferably). If you are unsure how to properly site a particular source, please ask me for advice. I’m always delighted to help.
STUDENTS WHO DO NOT COMPLETE THE FINAL PROJECT WILL NOT RECEIVE A GRADE OR CREDIT FOR THE COURSE.
The final project for this semester will be for each student to conceive of a new avant-garde movement, complete with a 3-4 page written manifesto (approximately 1500-2000 words) laying out the aims of the movement, its fundamental principles, and defining its place in accordance or opposition to existing movements. The student will also be responsible for formulating a critique of other existing avant-gardes in relation to their movement, and presenting examples of art (which can be in any medium and of the student’s own creation or found) which the new movement is claiming as their own.
The student will then present their movement to the class (or in the case of renewed restrictions on in-person learning, to me via Skype or Zoom) as a persuasive presentation, designed to encourage their peers to embrace their particular movement, as well as justifying their movement’s own ideological, aesthetic, and philosophical goals.
STUDENTS WHO DO NOT COMPLETE THE FINAL PROJECT WILL NOT RECEIVE A GRADE OR CREDIT FOR THE COURSE.
Prerequisites and co-requisites
Attendance and active class participation are required, as are all screenings. Repeated unexcused absences will result in penalties to the attendance and class participation scores. Students who have legitimate health excuses or absences approved by their academic coordinators (to be determined as the situation requires) will be allowed to make up a MAXIMUM of 2 classes by writing additional essays.
This course is part of a two-course sequence, one in each semester. Students can take either part without prerequisite, or both, if they have time and interest. Films, lectures, and readings will be different in both semesters. The first semester will focus on a avant-garde movement and traditions which have shaped Central European Cinema from within, while the second semester will focus more specifically on the cinematic history of the four Visegrad countries in Central Europe.
Central Europe has long been known as an artistic and intellectual island within the greater European sphere. Although ravaged by war, foreign occupation, and totalitarian governments for much of the last few centuries, Central Europe has managed to survive and often thrive as centers of culture and artistic experimentation. This course will focus on films from several influential areas in Central Europe with the goal of examining how this region’s history has impacted its culture by looking at avant garde cinema and its influence on popular genre cinema. In addition to focusing on film theory, we will also be discussing cultural history and media theory, learning approaches to “reading” films not only as movies, but also as multi-faceted cultural artifacts. To this end, our readings will contain primary source materials on cinema history, historical research, film theory, and literature intended to broaden our understanding of the various cultures, visual and otherwise which inform cinema creation in this part of Europe.
While this syllabus gives a fairly accurate portrayal of the material we will cover, additional material may be assigned (and assigned material may be dropped or altered) at any time as the semester progresses, in order to better suit the needs and interests of the class.
Recommended or required reading
Dziga Vertov “WE: Variant of a Manifesto”
Siegfried Kracauer - “From Caligari to Hitler” (excerpt)
Jonathan L. Owen, “Avant-Garde to New Wave: Czechoslovak Cinema, Surrealism and the Sixties”, (excerpt)
Jana Dudková, “On Celebration in the Botanical Garden”
Robert Dassanowsky “A Reasonable Fantasy : The Musical Film under Austrofascism 1933-1938”
Nina Power, “Blood And Sugar: The Films of Dušan Makavejev”
Slavoj Žižek, “The Fright of Real Tears” (excerpt)
Louis Menasche, “Moscow Believes in Tears : The Problems (and Promise?) of Russian Cinema in the Transition”
Petra Hanáková, “Visegrad Cinema: Points of Contact from the New Wave to the Present.” (Excerpt)
David Scheffel, “Ethnic Micropolitics in Eastern Europe: A Case Study from Slovakia's Gypsy Archipelago”, “Slovak Roma on the Threshold of Europe”
Thomas Elsaesser — “Fassbinder Representing Germany”
Zdenko Mandusić, “Kusturica’s Village and the National Community after Yugoslavia”
Garrett Stewart, “Pre-War Trauma: Haneke's The White Ribbon"
Dina Iordanova - “Cinema of the Other Europe”, excerpts
Raymond Borde, Étienne Chaumeton, “Towards a Definition of Film Noir”
Assessment methods and criteria
This course will be graded according to 5 areas— class attendance, class participation, a 4-5 page midterm paper, consultations with me on the final project, and an in class final exam. The breakdown is here:
Class Attendance— 25%
Class Participation — 25%
Midterm Paper — 20%
2 Progress Meetings for Final Project 10% (5% for each meeting)
Final Project — 20%
Students must hand in all work and attend all meetings with me to get a final grade.
Attendance: Students are required to attend class and participate in class discussions and ask questions. In the case of online learning, students are also requested to leave their cameras on during the online lecture. Students are allowed 2 unexcused absences for illness, medical, or personal reasons. However, they are expected to meet with me within a week of the absence to make up missing work or go over the missed lectures.
Students who miss more than two classes need to let me know so we can develop a make-up plan. Students who have more than 4 unexcused absences will not be given a final grade.
Instructor: Mgr. Nick Hudáč
Office: Nam. Jana palacha 2, Katedra filmových studií, Filozofická Fakulta 406
Course may be repeated
This course is an elective for all AMU students
Schedule for winter semester 2021/2022:
Room No. 3
|Date||Day||Time||Tutor||Location||Notes||No. of paralel|
|Thu||17:20–20:35||Nicholas David HUDAC||Room No. 3
Schedule for summer semester 2021/2022:
The schedule has not yet been prepared
The subject is a part of the following study plans
- Academy Preparation Program - Cinematography (optional subject)
- Academy Preparation Program - Animated Film (optional subject)
- Academy Preparation Program - Directing (optional subject)
- Academy Preparation Program - Documentary (optional subject)
- Academy Preparation Program - Editing (optional subject)
- Academy Preparation Program - Photography (optional subject)
- Academy Preparation Program - Screenwriting (optional subject)
- Production Team Studies (optional subject)