Saturday, 13 June 2009

Year 13 Critical Research Study

I hope you are all having a good weekend and working hard to secure a decent grade on your critical Research Study re-sit. I am still awaiting notes from some individuals and need these by 9.00am by the latest on Monday morning if you want to use them in the exam. I also need to give everyone a front sheet to complete and sign. Could you please collect this from me on Monday morning? Thank you. Work hard, and remember to read! Good luck and I'll see you on Monday to give out Front sheets. 


Welcome back Year 12. We hope the exams went well and that you are now refreshed and ready to face the challenges of Year 13. All Media and Film lessons will commence this week but there have been some important timetable changes that have had to be put in place for the last five weeks of term in light of Alan's departure and my promotion. Please spread the word. 

Film Studies
1. The small year 12 Film Group that would normally have me on a Tuesday 3/4 (Callum, Jake, Tara, Ruby, Josie, George) has now been merged with the other Film class. There will be four hours of lessons each week with a double Wed 3/4 and Fri 1/2. We will be starting World Cinema this week and the FS4 Small Scale Research Study. You will be taught by me (Nina) for all four periods but this will change in September with the new Media/Film team. 

2. The Year 12 Media lessons will be taught by Leanne but each class will only have a double of face to face teaching with another double with set independent study. The timetable has also changed because of clashes in teaching Alan's Year 10 groups. All Year 12 Media students will begin Music video preparation this term:
  • 12D MS1 has moved from Monday 1/2 with Nina to Tuesday 1/2 with Leanne. 
  • 12A MS1 will have Media on Wednesday 3/4 with Leanne. 

Thursday, 11 June 2009

City of God and Chicano Cinema

New Wave is a term used to describe a group of films emerging at certain times out of specific cultural and historical contexts. New Wave films are categorised as having a distinctive style, ideology or attitude. These films can stretch the boundaries of film-making with low-budget films conveying an exuberance and freedom lacking in more mainstream films. Often such New Waves can help to revitalise the mainstream industries. In recent years, a New Wave in Mexican and Latin American, sometimes called CHICANO cinema has emerged with City of God, Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Y Tu Mama Tambien. These films are notable for their often anti-Hollywood and pro-movement ideals of promoting ethnic political consciousness and pride. They can also be defined as 'HETEROGENEOUS' emphasising difference, contradiction and plurity. This is in contrast to HOMOGENEOUS cinema (Hollywood) that tends to assert HOMOGENEITY - representing similar groups, stories and ideologies (The American Dream) through film. Here are three Chicano films - what similarities can you identify between these and City of God? What comparisons can you draw in terms of MESSAGES AND VALUES, THEMES, MISE-EN-SCENE, CINEMATOGRAPHY, EDITING, STYLE etc.?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

City of Men, Meirelles and extending the formula

Article from 'The Guardian'

Brazilian favela of the month

A gritty soap opera set in a Rio slum has been a huge hit, says Rodrigo Davis

On the hill behind Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro stands Dona Marta, another of the city's many favelas (slums), synonymous with the image of impoverished Brazil. An unlikely site for one of the country's fastest-growing industries. Into this community have come 400 young actors, trailers and innumerable security guards as part of director Fernando Meirelles' new soap opera, Cidade dos Homens (City Of Men). 
In recent years the favela has undergone a cinematic reappraisal thanks to the work of homegrown directors. Following on from the initial wave led by Walter Salles and his Oscar-nominated Central do Brasil (Central Station) in 1998, Meirelles gave the poverty and drug-running culture of the slums some gusto with the cult hit City Of God. Although part of the film's initial attraction was its graphic depiction of gang warfare, he now finds himself taking the slum product in an entirely different direction in Dona Marta. 

Brazil's domestic audience is more accustomed to Americanised soaps in the mould of Days Of Our Lives, something of which Meirelles is acutely aware. Portraying the lives of two young men in Dona Marta is, in theory at least, an assault on normal viewing habits. He admits that Cidade dos Homens is targeted at the Brazilian middle class who "live very close to, but have no idea of, poverty". 

Charged with the idea that the original film was not the most glowing international advertisement for his country, he admits: "I am not very comfortable with the idea that everyone sees Brazil in this way. I never expected the film to go out of Brazil." None the less, it is within Brazil that the current work appears to be achieving popularity. In its first series, it drew 35 million viewers and, rather surprisingly, won the funding of media giant Globo, the stable for the more typically airbrushed series. 
City Of Men works "because it's close to reality" contends Meirelles. The set-pieces use local actors and are filmed on location using the more rudimentary Super 16 camera. 
However, an authentic favela experience on camera does not come without its logistical challenges. The crew freely acknowledge that the filming would not have been possible without making financial arrangements with local drug dealers, themselves the arbiters of what we recognise as the typical favela community. Dona Marta residents do not pay tax, and their community's structure is dictated by the drugs trade. 
Meirelles regales me with the story of a troublesome local woman who refused to respect the evening curfew on noise to allow the filming to go ahead: her compliance was only forthcoming after negotiation with "those in influence" in the community. 
The locally run shops and catering services that have sprung up to service actors and lingering crew members bear a strange artificiality, a sense of compromise within a community whose native establishments sell only reconditioned electrical goods and groceries. 
The most significant contribution Dona Marta and similar communities have made to the film and the series is in acting talent. The series is a culmination of 2,000 auditions across 23 of Rio's favelas, after which a theatre group was set up to rehearse the young actors. 
Alexandre Rodrigues, 20, has been in acting for three years and moved from his home to the favela of Vidigal to take part in a theatre group. Vidigal's group, run by a national NGO, is one of several that have become increasingly popular in recent years. Locally, much of the credit is given to President Lula da Silva. 
Phelippe Haagensen, who plays Bena in the series, is another example of the social mobility that comes with the new-found favela acting industry. He hints rather longingly that he would take the opportunity to move out of Dona Marta if he had the chance; his defiant assertion that he is proud of the favela seems to be borne out of what is expected of him more than anything else. 

When he first featured in the internationally successful film City Of God, 13-year-old Douglas Silva seemed as close to an authentic representation of a boy from Rio's slums as one could get. Now, in the wake of the film, in which he played Dadinho, things have changed inexorably for Silva. He and his family are now residents of the more salubrious Tijuca district of the city. 
"I have a Playboy lifestyle," he admits, unable to disguise his boyish excitement at his success. Meirelles even talks of the possibility of Silva attending university, the prospect of which would have been fanciful for a boy too poor to pay to go to university and not educated enough to qualify for one of the country's elite (but free) state universities. 
For Meirelles, however, the prospect of the protagonist in a chronicle of poverty losing his connection with the subject is not an important concern. The focus on characters is, he says, the means of humanising Brazil's most demonised communities. Ingrid Conte, an attractive 18-year-old, had herself been a player in the humanising experience, since her role on City Of Men was her first visit to a favela . Five years of theatrical roles and a contract with an acting agency were due qualification for her role in this social commentary. 

Perhaps a gritty depiction of the lives of two young men and an attempt to reach out to Brazil's viewing public would not have been possible without the polish of the television industry and the compromises made in authenticity. The thriving careers of the drama's actors are, in one sense, giving rise to successful Brazilians with a connection to the favela - a social group that the country has crucially lacked until now. 
Behind the camera it is easy to see City Of Men as a constructed universe: in front of it, though, it is hard to believe that one would ever come closer to Dona Marta.

Interview with Katia Lund about City of Men:

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Some quotes to get you thinking about HORROR

"This predilection for art that promises we will be frightened by it, shaken by it, at times repulsed by it seems to be as deeply imprinted in the human psyche as the counter-impulse toward daylight, rationality, scientific skepticism, truth and the "real." ... And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo--that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices." ~ Joyce Carol Oates

"Like sex, horror is seductive - enticing the reader to accept the forbidden; allowing a fascination with the carnal, the forbidden; titillating the mind as sex does both the mind and sense. Reading horror is an act oPublish Postf consensual masochism: you willingly submit to the pleasures of fear - scare me! Please?" ~ Paula Guran

"Sturgeons Law--which states that ninety percent of everything is crap--needs to be revised to be applicable to the horror genre; the percentage has to be raised." ~ Dean Koontz

"...Many of the feelings that typically attend being horrified are intrinsically unpleasant; for they include gagging, nausea, choking, stomach churning, tenseness, a creepy or crawling sensation, felt in the flesh, and so on."~ Noel Carroll

"If you want to be a writer, don't write horror whatever you do. Call it suspense, or dark fantasy, or anything but horror. Supernatural horror and hard-core splatterpunk are on their way out--unless it involves vampires." ~ Tom Beber

"Can there be something tonic about pure active fear in these times of passive, confused oppression? It is nice to choose to be frightened, when one need not be." ~ Elizabeth Bowen

"The problem is that horror is not a genre, it is an emotion. Horror is not a kind of fiction. It's a progressive form of fiction that continually evolves to meet the fears and anxieties of its times." ~ Douglas E. Winter

"I am conscious of writing in a tradition that blurs the boundaries between three fantastic genres: supernatural horror, fantasy and science fiction. I have always been of the opinion that you can't make firm distinctions between the three." ~ China Mieville

A few 'City of God' goodies to assist you with you wider contextual studies

A very easy to access 'Brazil' fact file with some good stuff on the Favelas

City of God Exemplar Essay City of God Exemplar Essay Mummy Media An exemplar WJEC essay response to close focus film 'City of God'

Monday, 1 June 2009



Are any of your students interested in the media? Now is their chance to experience it first-hand!

I recently wrote to you about the Young Journalists' Academy (YJA) (previously called the spiked Journalism Summer School).

I hope that you will encourage your students to apply to the 2009 YJA summer school, which is completely free of charge and takes place in Canary Wharf on
1 - 8 August. It's a popular programme and places are limited - so students are advised to apply ASAP. The final deadline is Monday 15 June.

The programme is open to 16- to 18-year-old London state school pupils. It is ideal for any student who is interested in a career in the media. The aim of the summer school is to offer a route into the competitive field of journalism to young people.

For more information about the programme or to download our brochure, please visit An application form can also be found on this website - it can be filled out online or printed out and submitted by post. As part of the application, students are required to submit a short statement of interest and a short piece of writing.

Successful candidates will get a unique chance to meet some of Britain's most renowned journalists, to participate in media training workshops and to visit the headquarters of high profile media institutions.

If you or your students have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch - my contact details are below. Kind regards,

Nathalie Rothschild
Co-ordinator, YJA
Journalism Education Ltd
Signet House
49 - 51 Farringdon Road

Tel: 020 7430 2386

Young Journalists' Academy: Making the Newsmakers