Contagion begins with a black screen and a cough; someone somewhere is sick–and spreading it–but we cannot see who. Characters spend much of the rest of the film staring into monitors, feverishly studying computer-generated models of the mysterious virus or digital video of its victims, but however hard they look, their screens reveal only biological explanations for the epidemic. They inevitably exclude macroeconomic and social forces, which are even harder to picture than the microscopic disease but causally every bit as important.
FQ Columnist Caetlin Benson-Allott bids farewell to her column “Platforming” with a focus on the film EUROPA REPORT. When I began writing “Platforming” three years ago, my goal was to create an ongoing reflection on the ways that new production and exhibition technologies were changing narrative film and the spectatorial experience.In pushing the definition of platform to include the material substrates and ideological codes that shape motion pictures, I wanted to consider how the feature film as a narrative system responds to technological change and to articulate the ways that platforms express social value. It would be antithetical to such inquiry to end the platform that has been this column with a gesture towards consummation or closure. So instead I want to interrogate the stakes of closure and similar narrative conventions with a film that does likewise.
Masculinist bias may explain why made-for-television movies—that most feminine and denigrated of television genres—were never considered “quality” until very recently. This summer, two telefeatures brought quality television’s innovations to small-screen docudrama.
Slipping into my neighborhood art house one recent afternoon, I wondered how much longer that theater—the Avalon, a nonprofit community film center in Washington, D.C.—would, could continue to exhibit film.
Since Marey’s motion studies at the end of the nineteenth century, film has been a tool for providing visible evidence, a record of things seen. The development of digital imaging technology over the past twenty years has transformed that original empirical function.