HFMK03311U FM, Module 2: Issues in World Cinema

Volume 2016/2017

Master in Film and Media Studies, 2016-curriculum + 2013-curriculum


Adopting a wide-ranging ‘world cinema’ approach, this course explores the recurring connections between cultures, genres, and audio-visual style.  The terms ‘culture’ and ‘genre’ will be interpreted broadly: ‘culture’ encompasses national cultures, but also, for example, institutional cultures or emerging subcultures and alternative cultures; relevant to ‘genre’ are the formulae of commercial filmmaking but also types of audio-visual expression associated with art cinema and the independent sector.

A central aim is to encourage a comparative approach to questions of culture, genre, and aesthetics, and featured films will thus be drawn from all corners of the globe. Lectures and discussions will focus on a series of issues that highlight the extent to which the links between culture, genres, and aesthetics are anything but trivial, having instead much to do with the world-making capacities— and thus social and other contributions—of audio-visual expression.

Issues to be explored in the course, with an indication of the required film viewings’ geographic foci, are as follows:

  • Group style and film movements (6th generation independent filmmaking in the People’s Republic of China);


  • Moral feel-good films (On the psychological benefits of genre: Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish [India] and Lone Scherfig’s Italian for Beginners [DK]);


  • Authentic expression and ‘direct speech’ (West African village films, European funders, and the filmmaker’s role as “griot”);


  • Heritage and memory (Types of heritage film: cultural norms as reflected in English and Danish examples);


  • Social justice and human rights films (Fiction and non-fiction in human rights filmmaking: Luis Puenzo [Argentina] and Joshua Oppenheimer [DK]);


  • Nollywood (Nigeria), Riverwood (Kenya) and the ‘straight-to-video’ phenomenon (Quality, quantity, piracy, markets and the appeal of local culture);


  • Capacity building and training (Nurturing personal, independent, creative expression: Denmark’s role beyond Denmark – CPH:DOX’s CPH:LAB; the National Film School of Denmark’s ‘Middle East Project’; International Media Support’s Screen Institute Beirut initiative, among others);


  • Slow cinema (Time and experience: Chantal Akerman [Belgium] and Apichatpong Weerasethakul [Thailand]);


  • Depicting the natural world (Environmental aesthetics and the experimental art film: Knut Erik Jensen [Norway], Andrej Zdravic [Slovenia] and James Benning [USA]);


  • The horror of nature (American B films and the revenge of nature; the New Nordic horror cinema)


  • Extreme cinema (Provocation and the art film: Lars von Trier [DK])

Assigned readings introduce students to debates about how best to study world cinema, to elucidations (from a variety of theoretical perspectives) of central concepts, and to case studies relevant to the films in focus. The course emphasizes practitioner’s agency, the practice-based thinking that goes into the making of a film, and a mix of analytic/cognitive and cultural approaches. Timetabling permitting, we expect to engage directly, via Skype, with a number of practitioners (e.g. Gaston Kaboré [Burkina Faso], Judy Kibinge [Kenya], Mary Stephen [France/Hong Kong], Knut Erik Jensen [Norway], and Charles Liburd [the Amsterdam-based initiator of Riverwood 20]).

Lectures extend beyond the films in focus and the detailed course outline suggests additional films on a world-wide basis, thereby offering students considerable latitude in connection with their written assignments.

Learning Outcome

Master in Film and Media Studies 2016-curriculum:
Module 2: Media, Genre and Aesthetics: HFMK03311E

Master in Film and Media Studies 2013-curriculum:
Module 2: Culture, genres and aesthetics: HFMK03021E

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Course Preparation
  • 367,5
  • Seminar
  • 42
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
The exam will be conducted in English or Danish
Criteria for exam assesment