The Mediascape Roundtable: Working at Film Festivals

Film festivals are a great way to see new and interesting movies from around the country and around the world, but what does it take to run a festival? To discuss film festivals in terms of their employment and behind-the-scenes job opportunities, the Mediascape Blog convened a roundtable of four film studies graduate students who have worked at festivals of various sizes. Their conversation can be read or listened to below, or downloaded in MP3 format.


Click to download “TheMediascapeRoundtable_WorkingAtFilmFestivals.mp3” (60 minutes, 56.9 MB)

Moderator: J.M. Olejarz

Mediascape Blog: Hi, and welcome to the Mediascape Roundtable. My name is Josh Olejarz, and I’m coeditor of the Mediascape Blog. Today we’re going to be talking about film festivals. We have four people here with us today who have worked at festivals of various sizes, and they’re going to talk about their experiences. This is geared toward people who are interested in working at a festival but aren’t sure what that entails or how to go about getting a job at one, but also people who have maybe been to a festival and are interested in seeing behind the curtain, so to speak. I’ll have our experts here introduce themselves one at a time and then we’ll jump right in. Kim, can you start? Continue reading “The Mediascape Roundtable: Working at Film Festivals” »

“Where’s Daddy?”: Fruitvale Station’s Doubly Tragic Tale

Spoken by the young child Tatiana Grant at the end of Ryan Cooglers’s Fruitvale Station, “Where’s Daddy?” is destined to join “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown” as one of filmdom’s most memorable concluding lines. Indeed, Fruitvale’s dramatization of an actual, quite recent incident—compared to Chinatown’s allegorical compositing of several disparate and distant events—renders its “message” even more topically resonant.

Before we enter the theater (or view the film in any format), we all know the immediate answer to Tatiana’s query: her 22-year-old black father, Oscar Grant, was shot in the back and killed by a white BART police officer in the wee hours of New Year’s Day 2008 as Grant lay face down on the concrete floor at Oakland’s Fruitvale Station. Tragic enough, on an intensely personal level—so intense that one patron at the screening I attended actually shouted “No!” when the deadly shot rang out. Compounding the tragedy and worthy of another “No!” was the reduced 11-month sentence for involuntary manslaughter that the officer, Johannes Mehserle, received, based on his claim that he thought he had fired his taser, not his real gun.

Once the screen goes black, however, the larger, collective tragedy of “Where’s Daddy?”—and Fruitvale Station—begins to emerge. Continue reading ““Where’s Daddy?”: Fruitvale Station’s Doubly Tragic Tale” »

“Playing” Mexican In ‘Guacamelee!’

Video games routinely play with representation and the ways we engage with our own perception of the world around us. In this article, Cinema and Media Studies doctoral candidate David O’Grady pursues this line of thought further, examining what “Mexican” means in the context of the mainstream game ‘Guacamelee!’ (2012). The article was originally published on the UCLA Game Lab blog and we thank the author and editors for the right to share it here. —Matthias Stork

Mainstream videogames often shy away from interpretative ambiguity, finding commercial safety—and ludic economy—in well-worn generic personas and dramatic milieus. Terrorists, monsters, aliens, Nazis—these are the culturally uncomplicated enemies who, in stereotypical scenarios and archetypal narrative arcs, must be slain by the solitary hero (i.e., the player) on a quest to save the princess/community/world.

But what happens when a videogame uses people, places and contexts that aren’t so culturally clear-cut or historically remote? This is often the space in which indie and art-project videogames operate, offering through simulation various interpretations of real-life people, issues and events. When big-budget games do attempt to play with ongoing social conflicts, or with aspects of race, gender, class and other complex cultural representations, they do so at great financial risk and critical punishment. Certain titles justifiably earn our scorn for their cultural callowness: consider the first-person shooter Call of Juarez: The Cartel (Ubisoft, 2011), a game that twists the real horrors of cartel violence and human trafficking on the Mexican border into a racist, clichéd, fear-mongering narrative about white slavery. For a stirring takedown of the game—and remarkable analysis of the drug war in Ciudad Juárez—see the compelling Extra Credits review. Continue reading ““Playing” Mexican In ‘Guacamelee!’” »