Janet Bergstrom's current research involves archivally based, cross-cultural studies of European directors who worked in more than one national cinema, such as Jean Renoir, F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, as well as contemporary French/Francophone directors Claire Denis and Chantal Akerman. Her work has been published in English, French, German, Italian and Japanese.
Bergstrom entered the field of DVD “critical editions” with Murnau’s “Tabu” (Milestone/Image Entertainment 2002; also distributed through Kino), an original audio essay co-extensive with the film, a 25 minute audio essay co-extensive with outtakes, and mastering a captioned slideshow of some 70 photos and pages from Murnau’s annotated shooting script. Subsequently, she made the documentary, “Murnau’s 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film” as a special feature for the “Sunrise” DVD (Twentieth Century Fox Films 2003), also released on the French DVD "L’Aurore" (Carlotta Films 2003). Bergstrom presented an alternate version of this documentary at the Berlin Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, Cinema Ritrovato/the Bologna Film Festival (Italy), and at the colloquial “L’Invention et l’archive”, IMEC, L’Abbaye d’Ardenne (France). It was screened at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris and was on permanent display during the Carl Mayer Retrospective at the Filmarchiv Austria in Vienna.
Recent essays include: “Opacity in the Films of Claire Denis” in “French Civilization and Its Discontents: Nationalism, Colonialism, Race,” “Murnau in Amerika: ‘The German Genius’” in “Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau: Ein Melancholiker des Films” (Berlin), “Invented Memories” in “Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman,” “Murnau in America: Chronicle of Lost Films (“4 Devils,” “City Girl”), “Film History” (winter 2002) and “Bibliotheque du Film, Paris: A Fire and its Consequences,” “Film History” (spring 2003). Her essay "Keeping a Distance (The Innovators 1970-1980: Chantal Akerman)" was published in “Sight & Sound.” Other publications include Endless Night: Cinema and Psychoanalysis, Parallel Histories. She was founding co-editor of “Camera Obscura” from 1974-1992.
Among other projects, Bergstrom is currently organizing a special issue of “Film History” devoted to the year 1927. She has served on the University of California’s advisory board to the Paris Critical Studies Program for many years, and published a “Guide to Resources for French Studies at UCLA” through the European Studies Program. She has sponsored seminars with directors Agnes Varda and Claire Denis, co-organized UCLA conferences on “Feminism and the Theory of the Subject,” “Psychoanalysis and Cinema: Parallel Histories,” “Inside the Renoir Archives,” and “Writing the History of French Cinema.”
She has felt privileged to invite to her courses, among others, Allison Anders, Thom Andersen, Shirley Clarke, Budd Boetticher, Rudi Fehr, Carl Franklin, Joseph H. Lewis, Abraham Polonsky, Ann Savage, David Raksin, Andre de Toth and Shirley and Ariane Ulmer.
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