Offscreen Notes

  • CALL FOR PAPERS 2023 MUSIC & THE MOVING IMAGE CONFERENCE XIX

    December 5th, 2022

    CALL FOR PAPERS 2023

    Conference at New York University: Friday, May 26 th – Sunday, May 28th

    The annual Music and the Moving Image Conference invites abstracts for paper presentations that explore the relationship between the vast universe of moving images (film, television, streaming media, video games, and advertisements) and that of music and sound. We encourage submissions from scholars and practitioners, as well as from multidisciplinary teams that have pooled their knowledge to solve problems or to develop new perspectives regarding the relationship between music and moving images. Abstracts will be selected based on their originality, relevance, significance, and clarity of presentation.

    ➢ Paper Abstract: (up to 250 words) should be submitted no later than December 16, 2022, via this link: https://form.jotform.com/222984255845164

    Keynote Speaker: Kathryn Bostic

    Kathryn Bostic is a composer and artist known for her work on award-winning films, TV, and live theater, including scores for Clemency (2019) and the Emmy-nominated films Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir (2021) and Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019). Songwriter, pianist and vocalist, Bostic is the recipient of the Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship, and Best Music in Film by the African American Film Critics Association. In 2016 she became the first female African American score composer to join the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

    Keynote Panel: The Role of Screen Music in the Music Theory Classroom

    Moderator: Frank Lehman (Tufts Univ)

    Panelists: Julianne Grasso (Florida State Univ), Sarah Louden (New York Univ), Táhirih Motazedian (Vassar College), and Scott Murphy (Univ of Kansas).

    Conference Committee:

    James Mc Glynn: Royal Holloway, University of London (“The Adaptation of Narrative and Musical Source Material in HBO’s Watchmen” in After Midnight: Analysing the Post-Watchmen Sequels) — Táhirih Motazedian: Vassar College (Key Constellations: Interpreting Tonality in Film [forthcoming, Univ. of California Press]) — John Richardson: University of Turku (An Eye for Music: Popular Music and the Audiovisual Surreal [Oxford Univ. Press]) — Ron Sadoff: New York University (The Moon and the Son / co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound) — Katherine Spring: Wilfrid Laurier University (Saying It With Songs: Popular Music and the Coming of Sound to Hollywood Cinema [Oxford Univ. Press]).

    • * *
      This year’s conference will run for three days, from Friday, May 26th – Sunday, May 28th, 2023 with sessions until Sunday evening. The conference will run prior to the NYU Film Scoring Workshop in Memory of Buddy Baker (May 29th – June 9th, 2023).

    Email [email protected] for more information.

  • Jeff Barnaby Dies at age 46 on October 13, 2022

    October 14th, 2022

    I am absolutely floored by the news that Jeff Barnaby has died at the age of 46, from a year-long battle with cancer. Just last week I mentioned to my classes that Jeff Barnaby was coming to Concordia University (to which he is an alumni) on October 26 to present his film Blood Quantum. My students would have loved his honest views on life. What a terrible loss, for his family (wife and son) and the world of cinema. Barnaby directed two striking feature films, Blood Quantum in 2019 and his debut feature in 2013 Rhymes for Young Ghouls. His legacy also includes some stunning short films, namely the political SF film File Under Miscellaneous (2010), Colony (2007) and Cherry English (2004). All his works were laced with political and social commentary from the perspective of his Indigenous Mi’kmaq roots. Barnaby grew up on the Listuguj reserve in Quebec, Canada and his films never shied from delivering strident political commentary along with his stated love of genre cinema. His films were a potent blend of entertainment and commentary. It is so sad that the nature of making films in Canada is at it is, to the point where someone as talented as Barnaby with as much to say as he did only had the chance to make two features since his first short film in 2004. A frustration which Barnaby had not been shy to talk about on social media. Offscreen wishes our deepest condolences to his family, his community and his fans.

  • Jean-Luc Godard (1930-2022)

    September 19th, 2022

    The filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (1930 – 2022) was a great and inventive artist, a man with a curious intellect and an impudent spirit, someone whose creativity sparked that of others. His films— from Breathless (1960), Contempt (1983), Band of Outsiders (1964), Alphaville (1965), Masculine Feminine (1966) and Weekend (1967) to Every Man for Himself (1980) and Hail Mary (1985) to Notre Musique (2004), Film Socialisme (2010) and The Image Book (2018)—were provocations. “Godard, one of the original pioneers of the French New Wave, has been an international celebrity for decades, and a controversial one. He’s feuded with some of the major figures in world cinema and major film festivals, and with luminaries in the arts and politics,” wrote film critic Matt Zoller Seitz in his January 25, 2019 comment (via Roger Ebert’s website) of Jean-Luc Godard’s 2018 film The Image Book, a work of contemplation and connections, a history of images and ideas. Godard’s work, whether dramatic or documentary, was alive to the moment. Whereas the films of many directors could seem like filtered memories, Godard’s work has an expansive vision and energy that carries some of the chaos of reality: thus, his films seemed part of our world, and we seem part of his. Matt Zoller Seitz wrote of The Image Book: By the time it ends, it has ruminated on the rise of the image, the fall of the word and the pulverization of every form of information into a nonstop stream of “content;” drawn connections between the mechanization of genocide during the Holocaust and colonization; created a kind of self-contained film-within-a-film, romanticizing the Arabic-speaking world through four decades’ worth of movie clips; and handed viewers a continuous analogy for the film’s own stylistic techniques by grouping together dozens of clips from movies involving trains (“trains of thought,” perhaps?).

    Jean-Luc Godard, born in France, died in Switzerland. He had been a bourgeois boy, the son of a clinic director; and he studied ethnology at the University of Paris, and became interested in documentaries. The improvisatory Breathless (1960), about a small criminal, a variation on the American crime picture, had glamour without false romance, and was said to have invented the jump cut. Sometimes the associations in his films were created by something other than logic. He brought a revolutionary approach to cinema. He defied established methods of both craft and narrative. The American girl in Breathless is not true to the infatuated French boy—it might have been an allegory. Godard did make a contentious study of women —his female characters were difficult to manage and sometimes inspired both admiration and hostility. That occurs in Masculine Feminine (1966). His works were interventions in both domestic politics and personal psychology. Some of the best work of writers such as Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael (and many others) has been inspired by Godard, who challenged expectations of what a film might be and mean. Godard did not merely contemplate film; he interrogated cinema. He was unique and he will be missed.

    by Daniel Garrett

  • Gerard Potterton

    August 26th, 2022

    R.I.P Gerald Potterton. Important British born Canadian animator/documentarist Potterton has passed away (1931-2022). His most important works remain the 1965 short The Railrodder that brought some recognition back to the silent comedy genius Buster Keaton, and the cult 1981 animation feature Heavy Metal, which included a who’s who of Canadian comedy and acting greats doing voice work (John Candy, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin, Jackie Burroughs, John Vernon, Al Waxman, Harvey Atkin, and others. Some of his works can be watched online for free at the NFB website.

  • Michael Walker (1942-2022)

    July 26th, 2022

    Sad to announce the death of prolific film writer and analyst Michael Walker. Read friend Keith Withall’s excellent obit.

  • Jean-Louis Trintignant (1930-June 17, 2021)

    June 19th, 2022

    Cinema lost one of its most versatile actors today, the great French performer Jean-Louis Trintignant. Trintignant could be smooth, sexy, funny, cool, and charming. He played in arthouse and genre films and approached both with the same dedication and commitment. He starred in two of my drop dead favorite films of all-time. Films that I never tire of watching. Sergio Corbucci’s nihilistic spaghetti western The Great Silence, where he gave his own stamp to a particular type of ‘silent’ type with no name. A film that influenced a whole generation of 1970s American filmmakers, Il Conformista, where he played a sexually confused petite bourgeois who climbs the Fascist corporate ladder by staging a Shakespearean assassination of an anti-Fascist intellectual. And many other (mainly) French and Italian films with some of the greatest directors of his time.

  • The Orphan Film Symposium

    June 15th, 2022

    Concordia University is hosting this wonderful event which features panel talks and rare film screenings. From June 15-18, 2022.

  • Monica Vitti (1931-Feb. 2, 2022)

    February 3rd, 2022

    The great actress Monica Vitti died at the age of 90 on Feb 2, 2022 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Vitti burst onto the International film scene as the muse of one of Italy’s greatest ever filmmakers Michelangelo Antonioni, as Claudia in L’Avventura. While Antonioni’s radical approach to narrative structure, temporality and use of architecture and landscape in several seismic films of the 1960s helped shape a new ‘modernist’ approach to narrative, the striking beauty and bodily intelligence of Monica Vitti was the face behind Antonioni’s modernism. Vitti will always be remembered for those first four thematically linked films she made with Antonioni, L’Avventura, La Notte, L’eclisse and Deserto Rosso, playing the archetypical modern woman navigating the post-WW2 Economic Miracle Italy. An Italy defined by Antonioni as a nation whose social and moral attitudes lagged behind the nation’s rapid economic growth. And Vitti, most powerfully in L’eclisse, where she begins the film by ending a stilted relationship with a man who represents the ‘old Italy’ Riccardo (Francisco Rabal) and begins seeing a man who represents the ‘new Italy’ Piero (Alain Delon), but is none the happier, and Deserto Rosso, was the emotional heartbeat of this existentially bared open new citizen. Vitti was called back into Antonioni’s universe when he experimented with the then new medium of video, and cast Vitti as “the Queen” in the 1980 Jean Cocteau story The Mystery of Oberwald. Fittingly to commemorate her death Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini wrote, “Goodbye to the queen of Italian cinema.” Indeed.

  • Sidney Poiter, dies at age 94, on Jan. 6, 2022

    January 8th, 2022

    Sidney Poiter stood tall amongst his acting peers, not only for his immeasurable talents but, as noted by Wesley Morris in his excellent NYT obit, his talents up against the stresses and roadblocks of race during his lifetime. Poiter’s greatest roles were undoubtedly in late 1950s and 1960s, with The Blackboard Jungle, The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, Lilies of the Field, A Patch of Blue, To Sir, With Love, In the Heat of the Night and its sequel They Call Me Mr. Tibbs, and of course Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. But often forgotten is his run as a director, with the excellent western Buck and the Preacher (1972) and the hilarious Stir Crazy and less funny but still interesting, Let’s Do It Again. Above all Poiter gave an aura of class, sophistication and virtue. What a great run.

    Offscreen contributor Daniel Garrett wrote several pieces celebrating Poitier’s significant character and creative abilities…

    On Mia Mask’s Poitier Revisited and Contemporary Black American Cinema

    And,

    An Attempt to Reconcile Everything: A Warm December, a film starring and directed by Sidney Poitier, and the Legacy of the Great Actor

  • RIP Peter Bogdanovich (1939-Jan 6, 2022)

    January 6th, 2022

    I heard of his death from a student today right at the start of the class, and my first image was of a forever young Peter Bogdanovich. For some reason I could not think of him as an old man, only as a young, exuberant member of the Hollywood Renaissance, part of the younger generation of Post-Hollywood directors who were not out to destroy Hollywood but change it from within, by making spunkier, more personal genre films. Bogdanovich started off as a film critic, the sort that gave you the impression of hanging around trying to pester his idols like Ford, Walsh and Lang, until they would respond to his queries. His love of John Ford led to a book on him and a documentary in 1971. Prior to that was his meta-sniper film Targets, which starred an aging Boris Karloff playing himself, an old Monster icon who is no longer scary in a world where boy next door types are picking innocent people off with a shotgun from the top of a water tower. Bogdanovich may have reached his peak early with his next film The Last Picture Show, and his other very fine film Paper Moon. By the 1990s however, after a few box-office duds (Daisy Miller, Nickelodeon, Saint Jack) Bogdanovich saw himself an outlier in an industry he never fell out of love with. Somehow it fell out of love with him, and Bogdanovich saw himself working more and more in Television and taking up roles much like Sam Fuller in an earlier generation did at the end of his career. No doubt he lived a fruitful live. Heck he had a longish fling with one of the most beautiful women of her time, Cybill Sheppard (which ruined his relationship with his then wife, and foreshadowed other failed or troubled relationships later in his life.

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