Historically, the study of the idea of black film has been a fraught, insightful, and generative enterprise—be it a matter of industrial capital and its delimitation of film practice in terms of profit, or the tendency to insist that the “black” of black film be only a biological determinant and never a formal proposition. In many ways, the black film as an object of study mirrors the history of America, the history of an idea of race. While the field continues to shift and change, and the study of black film becomes more common, it is often still tokenized by the industry. Discussion about black film and media is booming in academic programs (e.g., American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, English) and in Film and Media Studies, but it is doing so even more in nonacademic spaces, with blogs, podcasts, and think pieces proliferating at a rapid pace. We offer our manifesto, recognizing that film manifestos never whisper. Their messages envision political, aesthetic, and cultural possibilities. They demand and plot. They question and insist. What follows are expectations bundled as concerns for not only the renderings of black film to come but, as well, the thinking on blackness and cinema that we hope will thrive and inspire future discussions. We are devising new terms of engagement with current developments in mind.
In 1998, Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner published an essay entitled “Sex in Public,” which now appears as the utopian vision of a bygone era. Drawing from Jürgen Habermas and Michel Foucault, Berlant and Warner called attention to the public mediation of sexuality in the United States and critiqued the heteronormative ideologies and institutions that hinged on a structural delineation of “personal life.” Where a hegemonic public sphere had been constituted by “a privatization of sex and the sexualization of private personhood,” so they argued, queer culture represented a world-making project involving the development of ephemeral, promiscuous, and often-criminal forms of intimacy—ones “that bear no necessary relation to domestic space, to kinship, to the couple form, to property, or to the nation.”
FQ Associate Editor Regina Longo talks with Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover about their book Queer Cinema in the World. From the introductory pages the co-authors plot a course for their readers by mapping the themes they will address throughout the book: counterpublics, covert and overt identities, and the legibility of sexuality and politics across and between different (social, political, economic, national, regional, linguistic) cultures and different cinematic cultures.
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.
When the Sundance Film Festival debuted in the 1980s, it entered a landscape dominated by a small corps of well-established A-list film festivals: New York, Chicago, San Francisco. A scrappy upstart, it quickly crashed the VIP room with the help of Robert Redford’s celebrity
From time to time Film Quarterly has published special features on Hollywood films that have had a major influence on public opinion. In 1979 the film was The Deer Hunter, in 1991 Thelma & Louise. If any such recent film has merited similar treatment, it is surely Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain.