The fiftieth anniversary of the release of The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) offers an occasion to challenge commonplaces about the film and to show that there remains much to be clarified about its character. Typically discussed in terms of its debt to Italian neorealism, The Battle of Algiers can also be related to Italian colonial cinema made during the fascist period. The film recounts the genesis of the Algerian nation, but it is at the same time a film about the end of the French empire. Meanwhile, an analysis of location in the film’s little-discussed coda shows The Battle of Algiers to be the first in a long line of banlieue cinema—that is, it is a film that presciently anticipates postcolonial conditions on the territory of France itself.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich’s survey of the Winter 2016 issue. Her roadmap for navigating the ideas, authors, films, TV shows, and interviews featured within; a reflection on the state of film and media criticism, the beginning of awards season, and special tributes to Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor and Curtis Hanson.
Chantal Akerman’s sound strategies are defining elements of a unique film language noted for effects that feel close to direct experience and seem to approximate the passing of real time. Drawing from a range of Akerman’s films, from Saute Ma Ville (1968) to No Home Movie (2015), five categories of sound that are of special interest in Akerman’s films are considered: walking, talking, singing (music), exploding, and silence. Local examples are analyzed to give a sense of how, within these five categories, Akerman cultivated an overall tactic of desynchron- ization – often separating layers of sound from one another within the soundtrack, and always working the soundtrack as a whole against the visual image track – to amplify effects of immediacy and temporal complexity, and to generate layers of meaning powerfully but indirectly.
FQ Associate Editor interviews film scholar Michael Boyce Gillespie on his new book Film Blackness and the Idea of Black Film. Gillespie begins his book with a series of questions that seem to be posed to reader and author alike, for he declares that this book is “driven by the belief that the idea of black film is always a question, never an answer,” and pushes the reader to think through some of the past and present iterations of blackness in American culture and media. Gillespie shows that there have always been multiple ways of being black, becoming black, performing blackness, challenging blackness, embodying blackness, defying blackness, and transcending the conventional understanding of blackness. Read the column then download a selection from the book made available thanks to Duke University Press.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich’s quarterly roundup of the issue: Fall 2016, Volume 70, Number 1. The issue pays homage to Chantal Akerman with a special dossier co-edited with Ivone Margulies. Rich also weighs in on being female onscreen and online, and the origins of Girlpower. She charts a course for readers through this special issue that also includes the first English translations of some of Akerman’s work, Laura Mulvey on the Jeanne Dielman universe, an in-depth feature article on Mati Diop’s documentary MILLE SOLEILS, columns by Paul Julian Smith and Amelie Hastie, festival coverage, and more.
A special dossier on Chantal Akerman with articles by dossier co-editor Ivone Margulies, Laura Mulvey, and an interview by B. Ruby Rich; plus the first English language translations of some of Akerman’s work, a post-mortem bibliography of writing on Akerman, a special video tribute to Akerman and the importance of sound in her films by Barbara McBane; a report from the goEAST film festival, and a rich slate of book reviews round out this “back to school” issue.
Laura Horak’s first monograph, Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908–1934, is refreshing and invigorating. In a moment when pop culture is ablaze with stories of the “novelty” of transgender and gender nonconforming people, FQ Associate editor Regina Longo was delighted to sink into a thoroughly researched book on this subject that was ten years in the making. Read the column and then download the free chapter of the book offered here for FQ readers.
To judge by the critical enthusiasm with which the second season of Amazon Prime’s Transparent (2014–) series has been embraced, Jill Soloway not only has a big trans-affirmative hit on her hands but has succeeded in stimulating a lively conversation about queerness, trans politics, and television representation within the broader society.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich’s roundup of the Summer 2016 issue: Volume 69, Number 4. Rich recalls the early years of university-level film history courses, assesses the barrage of industry news that lands on her desk daily, and pays homage to Richard Dyer, who was honored by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies at their annual conference. Dyer’s first published monograph, GAYS AND FILM (1977), came into the world in a vacuum. There was simply no such field. Today, it is difficult to comprehend the force of imagination and courage required to launch such a career at such a time. Forty years ago, a grand ballroom would not have filled with people and applause for a gay scholar; today, it was unremarkable that one did.
Jill Soloway’s Transparent and the New Television; Ex Machina In The Garden; Rituparno Ghosh’s Bariwali; interviews with Christopher Harris, Annie Baker, and Hanna Polak; festival reports from IDFA and Sundance; and more!