HFMK03316U FM, Module 2, Media, Genre and Aesthetics: Issues in World Cinema

Volume 2017/2018

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 received categories of commercial filmmaking but also general 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 are as follows:

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

  • Genre formulae, innovation and individual style (Wong Kar-wai [Hong Kong]);

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

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

  • Heritage culture and memory (the biopic – on the ethics of basing fiction on real lives);

  • 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: Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun; Ben Addelmann and Samir Mallal’s Nollywood Babylon);

  • 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: Knut Erik Jensen [Norway]; nature in the context of the horror film);

  • Extreme cinema (Provocation and transgression in 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. The course will feature visits by practitioners. Timetabling permitting, we also expect to engage directly with filmmakers through Skype.

The detailed course outline suggests a significant number of additional films and also provides further readings for each week; students are welcome to focus on these in connection with their written assignments.


Learning Outcome

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


  • Category
  • Hours
  • Course Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
The exam will be conducted in English or Danish
Criteria for exam assesment