Comparative Literature 313A: Contemporary Cinema
5 credits; W credit


Contemporary Cinema
and the International Film Festival Circuit

The course explores the cinematographic, industrial, and ideological conditions of recent filmmaking, with an emphasis on postsocialist ideology and form, new forms of realism, transnational trends, the role of international film festivals, and the conscious revision of cinematic traditions.

During weeks 1-8, class will meet for four meetings every week—two for screenings and two for lectures. The last two weeks are devotd to watching films at teh Seattle International Film Festival.

This is a core course in the film studies track. Students are expected to be familiar with basic terms in film history and criticism.




MTWTh 11:30-1:20 Thomson 101


Yomi Braester


office: C-504 Padelford


office hours: by appointment








Readings and film viewings:
All readings must be completed on time. Students are required to attend the screenings. Readings are available on e-reserve; efforts will be made to place all films on reserve at the Odegaard Media Center.


Reading reports:
Fourteen 200-word reports, summarizing the respective readings. (One of the assigned 15 can be missed without penalty.) Due on the dates listed below.
Film reports: Twenty critical reviews, each 200 words long, each on a different film watched in class (12) or at SIFF (8) (students will choose the SIFF films based on their focus). Submission of at least 16 reports is a condition for passing the course. (All reports count; late reports will be accepted only with instructor's permission.) Film reports are due at the beginning of the first lecture following the in-class screening (in hard copy); SIFF film reports due June 7 (by email).


Paper #1: Due on May 3, in hard copy; at least 1,000 words long. Paper topic will be announced in class.
Paper #2: Due May 27, in hard copy; at least 1,000 words long. Paper topic will be announced in class.
SIFF report: Due June 7, by email; at least 750 words long. An explanation of the student's choice of films to view at SIFF and how expectations were/were not met.


Reading reports 14 x 1.25 point (P/F basis for each) = 17.5 points
Film reports (12+8) x 1 point (P/F basis for each; 18 a prerequisite for passing the course) = 20 points

Paper #1 = 24 points
Paper #2 = 24 points
SIFF report = 15 points

Failure to submit 18 film reports on time will result in an F grade for the course


Policies and Procedures

Late submissions must be pre-approved by the instructor or they will not be accepted. Extensions for reading responses, make-up classes, and extra screenings will be available only in very special cases, where the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.
All assignments, except in-class commentary, must be typed. Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, double-spaced.
The course strictly adheres to UWs rules on plagiarism.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform the instructor, who will do his best to provide the relevant accommodations.


CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)

NOTE: Readings are available on electronic reserve, at

week 1

3/29 Mon

Seminar: Introduction

3/30 Tue

No class meeting

3/31 Wed

Screening: Emir Kusturica, Underground (1995) (167/194 mins) PART I

4/1 Th

Screening: Emir Kusturica, Underground (1995) (167/194 mins) PART II
Reading 1 (for today): Dina Iordanova, Cinema of Flames (Introduction and chapters 2 and 6); Kenneth Turan, Sundance to Sarajevo, pp. 89-108

week 2

4/5 Mon

Seminar: What is "contemporary cinema"?
Reading 2 (for today):
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Movie Wars, (pp. 1-62)

4/6 Tue

Screening: Jiang Wen, In the Heat of the Sun (1994) (128 mins)

4/7 Wed

End screening: Jiang Wen, In the Heat of the Sun
Seminar: Scars and nostalgia
Reading 3 (for today):
Braester, “Memory at a Standstill: Postsocialist China and Hooligan History”

4/8 Th

Seminar: post-socialist cinema


week 3


4/12 Mon

Screening: Wolfgang Becker, Good Bye Lenin (2003) (121 mins)

4/13 Tue

End screening: Wolfgang Becker, Good Bye Lenin
Seminar: The televised revolution
Reading 5 (for today): Enns, "The politics of Ostalgie: post-socialist nostalgia in recent German film"

4/14 Wed

Screening: Nightwatch (2004) (114 mins)

4/15 Th

End screening: Nightwatch (2004) (114 mins)
Seminar: Silent apocalypse
Reading 6 (for today): Norris, "In the Gloom"; Campbell, "Five Theses"; Shone, Blockbuster (selection)


week 4

4/19 Mon

Screening: Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) (133)

4/20 Tue

End screening: Welcome to Dongmakgol
post-socialism outside the socialist block
Reading 7 (for today): Michael Robinson, "Contemporary Cultural Production in South Korea"; Darcy Paquet, "The Korean Film Industry:
1992 to the Present"; Jeeyoung Shin, "Globalization and New Korean Cinema"

4/21 Wed

Screening: Sweet Mud (2006) (90 mins)

4/22 Th

Seminar: post-socialism and post-Zionism
Reading 8 (for today): Adi Ophir, "The identity of the victims and the victims of identity: a critique of Zionist ideology for a Postzionist age


week 5

4/26 Mon

Screening: Jia Zhangke, The World (2004) (143 mins) PART I

4/27 Tue

Screening: Jia Zhangke, The World (2004) (143 mins) PART II

4/28 Wed

Seminar: The new Chinese cinemas; the post-spatial and post-cinematic
Reading 9 (for today): Jason McGrath, "'Independent' Cinema"

4/29 Th

No class meeting


week 6


5/3 Mon

Screening: Mathieu Kassovitz, Hate (1995) (96 mins)
Paper #1 due

5/4 Tue

Seminar: The Cinéma du cool and the new global order
Reading 10 (for today): Dana Thomas, "Crashing The New Wave"; Amy Siciliano, "La Haine: Framing the ‘Urban Outcasts’"

5/5 Wed

Screening: Hollywood, Bollywood (2002, 105 mins)

5/6 Th


Seminar: The Hindi film industry; transnational film

Reading 11(for today): Toby Miller et al., Global Hollywood, pp.34-82; Gary Xu, "Remaking East Asia, Outsourcing Hollywood."


week 7



5/10 Mon

Screening: Lars Von Trier, Breaking the Waves (1996) (153 mins) (PART 1)

5/11 Tue

Screening: Lars Von Trier, Breaking the Waves (1996) (153 mins) (PART 1)

5/12 Wed

Meeting with SIFF programmers
Reading 12 (for today):
Kenneth Turan, Sundance to Sarajevo, 13-48; Jonathan Rosenbaum, Movie Wars, "Trafficking in Movies," 143-162.

Reading 4 (also for today!): Film Festival Yearbook 1 (selection)

5/13 Th

Seminar: Dogme 95 and minor cinemas

Reading 13 (for today): Mette Hjort, "Dogma 95: A Small Nation's Response to Globalisation"; "The Globalisation of Dogma: The Dynamics of Metaculture and Counter-Publicity"


week 8

5/17 Mon

Screening: Abbas Kiarostami, Ten (2002) (94 mins)

5/18 Tu

Reading 14 (for today): Hamid Naficy, "Islamisizing Film Culture in Iran: A Post-Khatami Update"; Azadeh Farahmand, "Perspectives on Recent (International Acclaim for) Iranian Cinema"

5/19 Wed

Screening: Elia Suleiman, Divine Intervention (2002) (92 mins)

5/20 Th

Reading 15 (for today):
"Between Exile and Homeland: The Films of Elia Suleiman," in Gertz and Khleifi, Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, and Memory




week 9

SIFF - no class meetings

Paper #2 due Wednesday, May 27.


week 10

SIFF - no class meetings



Exam week:

Assignments: All remaining film reports and SIFF report due June 7 (directly by email to Yomi).