Comparative Literature 313A: Contemporary Cinema
11635 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 1:30-3:20 JHN 111



Yomi Braester


office: C-504 Padelford


office hours: by appointment


e-mail: yomi@u



Sima Daad


E-MAIL: simad@u


CLASS EMAIL (messages accepted only from UW accounts!)








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 250-word reports, summarizing the respective readings. (One can be missed without penalty.) Due on the dates listed below.

Film reports: Twenty critical reviews, each 250 words long, each on a different film watched in class (12) or at SIFF (8). Submission of at least 16 reports is a condition for passing the course. Due dates and guidelines posted on Catalyst.

Curatorial group assignment:
- Watch the three films assigned to your group
- The group votes on which of the three films will be screened in class.
- The group explains its choice to the class. The group will briefly present to the entire class all three films, giving specific examples from the films to demonstrate the reasons for the screening choice.
- Each group members should be ready to explain his/her vote, to the entire class or in a smaller group discussion.

Final essay: Each student will submit a 5-6-page final essay, connecting a SIFF film to the concerns of the class (details TBA).

Presentation and paper: paper due two weeks after the presentation; at least 1,000 words long.

Final paper: 5-page paper, relating two SIFF films to concerns raised in class. Details TBA.


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

Curatorial group assignment = 30 points
Final paper = 30 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 UW’s rules on plagiarism.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform the instructor, who will do his best to provide the relevant accommodations.



NOTE: Readings are available on electronic reserve, here

week 1



3/26 Mon

Seminar: What is "contemporary cinema"?

For slides viewed in class, see here

3/27 Tue

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

3/28 Wed

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


3/29 Th

Seminar: post-communism and fantasy
Read for today:
"Kusturica's Underground"; "Sarajevo"


week 2

4/2 Mon

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

4/3 Tue

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

4/4 Wed

Seminar: Dogme 95 and minor cinemas
Read for today: Hjort, selected essays

4/5 Th

Seminar: Is cinephilia dead?
Read for today: Movie Wars, Introduction and Chapter One


week 3



4/9 Mon

Screening: Sweet Mud (90 mins) or Good Bye Lenin (121 mins) or In the Heat of the Sun (128 mins)

4/10 Tue

Seminar: What nostalgia?
Read for today:
Enns, "The Politics of Ostalgie"

4/11 Wed

Screening: 12:08 East of Bucharest (89 mins) or Police, Adjective (115 mins) or Kontroll (105 mins)

4/12 Th

What actually happened?
Read for today:
Pop, "The Grammar of New Romanian Cinema"


week 4

4/16 Mon

Screening: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (150 mins) or The World (143 mins) or Khadak (104 mins)

4/17 Tue

No class

4/18 Wed

Seminar: Post-socialist dolrums
Read for today: Sneath, "Mongolia in the Age of the Market"

4/19 Th

Seminar: The international festival circuit and globalization
Read for today:
Iordanova, "The Film Festival Circuit"; Stringer, "Global Cities and the International Film Festival Economy"


week 5

4/23 Mon

Screening: Oldboy (120 mins) or Sopyonje (112 mins) or The Man without a Past (97 mins)

4/24 Tue

Seminar: Across time barriers
Read for today: on Oldboy

4/25 Wed

Screening: Waltz with Bashir (90 mins) or Nightwatch (114 mins) or Open Your Eyes (117 mins)

4/26 Th

Seminar: Remembering the future
Read for today: on Waltz with Bashir


week 6



4/30 Mon

Screening: Ten (94 mins) or Or, My Treasure (100 mins) or A Separation (123 mins)

5/1 Tue

Seminar: Less is more
Read for today: "Whither Iranian Cinema" (collected essays)

5/2 Wed

Screening: Divine Intervention (92 mins) or Bamako (115 mins) or Calendar (74 mins)

5/3 Th


Seminar: Battles for recognition
Read for today:
"Elia Suleiman"


week 7



5/7 Mon

Screening: The Hole (95 mins) or Still Life (111 mins) or Sex, Lies, and Videotape (100 mins)

5/8 Tue

Seminar: Cinematic borrowings
Read for today: "The Institutionalization of American Independent Cinema"

5/9 Wed

Meeting with SIFF programmers

5/10 Th

Screening: Dil Se (163 mins) or The Company (155 mins) or The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (139 mins)


week 8

5/14 Mon

end screening

5/15 Tu

Seminar: Transnational blockbusters
Read for today:
Kim, "Cine-Mania or Cihephilia?"

5/16 Wed

Screening: Hate (96 mins) or Hollywood, Bollywood (105 mins) or Ringu (96 mins)

5/17 Th

Seminar: Cinema without borders
Read for today: "La Haine: Framing the ‘Urban Outcasts’"




week 9

SIFF - no class meetings

week 10

SIFF - no class meetings



Exam week:

Assignments: All remaining film reports and second essay due June 3 (directly by email).