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Folk Elements in Aleksei Balabanov’s Brat and Brat 2: A Morphological Analysis

Abstract

The article uses Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale (Морфолоƨuя сказкu, 1928) as a framework to illustrate the way in which Aleksei Balabanov masterfully creates a modern folk tale using classic motifs and structures in his 1997 film Brother (Браm, Russia) and its sequel Brother 2 (Браm 2, Russia, 2000). The paper argues that Brother and Brother 2 are post-Soviet retellings of classic tales of Russian folklore and that Danila is a modern hero, an unlikely saviour of the Russian nation and the Russian soul. Danila’s journey is formulaic, predictable and straightforward, yet nevertheless makes for a powerfully new take on concepts of Russian nationalism and heroism. The underworld to which our hero must journey is located in the heart of Russia’s ‘Peter’, and possession of the Russian nation and soul are the object of his quest in the volatile post-Soviet period.

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Slowly Moving Bodies: Signs of Pictorialism in Aki Kaurismäki’s Films

Abstract

Aki Kaurismäki is arguably the best-known Finnish filmmaker, owing largely to his feature films such as Crime and Punishment (Rikos ja rangaistus, Finland, 1983), Calamari Union (Finland, 1985), Shadows in Paradise (Varjoja paratiisissa, Finland, 1986), Hamlet Goes Business (Hamlet liikemaailmassa, Finland, 1987), Ariel (Finland, 1988), The Match Factory Girl (Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö, Finland, 1990), I Hired a Contract Killer (Finland/ Sweden, 1990), La vie de bohéme (Finland/France/ Sweden/Germany, 1992), Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Pidä huivista kiinni, Tatjana, Finland/Germany, 1994), Drifting Clouds (Kauas pilvet karkaavat, Finland, 1996), Juha (Finland, 1999), The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä, Finland, 2002), Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot, Finland, 2006) and Le Havre (Finland/France, 2011). A large body of his work has been made in Finland, but also in countries like France and Great Britain. Besides feature films, he has also made documentaries and short films, as well as musical films with the group Leningrad Cowboys. In a broader context, Kaurismäki has a unique place in Finnish and international film history, as well as in media and communication culture. Kaurismäki’s cultural context includes elements that have been turned into national and transnational symbols of social communication and narrative interaction by his stylisation. The director’s cinematic strategy investigates and makes choices evoking a social understanding of characters that has special communicative value. Kaurismäki’s films have been scrutinised for over thirty years.

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The Undercurrents of Estonian Broadcasting Regulation, 1992–2014

Abstract

This article explores the ways in which different external and internal factors (especially politics and economics) have encouraged or hindered the evolution of Estonian Public Broadcasting. This article argues that the Estonian government’s ‘idealisation’ of market forces that is supported by European Union (EU) media policy and driven by the common market ideology does not take into account the actual abilities of a small country’s media companies to provide a wide range of media services, and thereby limits the offerings of high-quality local content. The research methodology is based on an analysis of EU media policy documents, Estonian media legislation and broadcasters’ annual reports in the period from 1992 to 2014. The main finding of this article is that official Estonian media policy is largely shaped by the financial results of private media companies.

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Women’s Experimental Filmmaking in Poland in the 1970s and Early 1980s

Abstract

In my article I concentrate on works by three female artists - Natalia LL, Ewa Partum and Teresa Tyszkiewicz. Natalia LL and Ewa Partum started their careers inspired by conceptual tradition, later they extended their interests to feminist concepts, including the image of women, the position of women in a patriarchal society, and the woman as an object to be consumed. Teresa Tyszkiewicz began her artistic activity a decade later; thus, the reflexes of the conceptual trend are less visible in her films than in the works of LL and Partum. Her films can be described as symbolic, dedicated to corporeality and sensuality. Unlike LL and Partum, Tyszkiewicz did not consider her works to be connected to feminism or examples of women’s art.

Open access
Darkness on Screen: Subjectivity-Inducing Mechanisms in Contemporary Estonian Art Film

Abstract

The main purpose of the article is to bring more clarity to the concept of art film, shedding light on the mechanisms of subjective reception and evaluating the presence of subjectivity-inducing segments as the grounds for defining art film. The second aim is to take a fresh look at the littlediscussed Estonian art cinema, drawing on a framework of cognitive film studies in order to analyse its borders and characteristics. I will evaluate the use of darkness as a device for creating meaning, both independently of and combined with other visual or auditory devices. The dark screen, although not always a major factor in the creation of subjectivity, accompanies the core problem both directly and metaphorically: what happens to the viewer when external information is absent? I will look at the subjectivity- inducing devices in the films of two Estonian directors, Sulev Keedus and Veiko Õunpuu. For the theoretical background, I rely mostly on Torben Grodal’s idea about the subjective mode as a main characteristic of art film, and the disruption of character simulation as the basis for the film viewer’s subjectivity.

Open access
The Deterritorialised Muslim Convert in Post-Communist Eastern European Cinema

Abstract

This article analyses the Muslim convert as portrayed in three post-communist Eastern European films: Vladimir Khotinenko’s A Moslem (Мусульманин, Russia, 1996), Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing (Poland/Norway/ Ireland/Hungary/France, 2010), and Sulev Keedus’s Letters to Angel (Kirjad Inglile, Estonia, 2011). Although set in different periods, the films have their origins in Afghanistan and then move to European countries. The conversion to Islam happens in connection to, or as a consequence of, different military conflicts that the country has seen. The authors examine the consequences the characters have on their environment, using Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of deterritorialisation, understood as an opportunity to produce political and cultural change. Resettling from one religion and place into another means breaking up structures that need to be reassembled differently. However, these three films seem to desire deterritorialisation and resettlement for different reasons. In A Moslem, national structures need to be reset since foreign Western values have corrupted the post-communist Russian rural society. In Essential Killing, it is the Western military system of oppression that cannot uphold the convert and his values. Lastly, in Letters to Angel, the convert exposes the hollowness of post-communist capitalism. The Muslim converts in these films are subtle reminders that we can all reinvent ourselves.

Open access
Post-Soviet Trauma in the Nordic Imagination: Occupation and Sex Trafficking in Purge and Lilya 4-Ever

Abstract

The traumas of the twentieth century affected the development of trauma narrative in literature and cinema. Much of the trauma theory in different disciplines developed largely from the Holocaust literature as well as from gender-based violence. The criticism of many examples in contemporary trauma theory has been that they are applicable only to Western countries and do not take into account the difficult transitions between the non-Western and Western world. The countries that had gone through a brutal occupation of the Soviet Union also experienced the trauma of transformation, as whole societies turned into post-Soviet nations next to the developed Nordic/ Western states. This article will examine the representations of trauma in Sofi Oksanen’s fictional narrative Purge (Puhdistus, 2008) and Lukas Moodysson’s cinematic narrative Lilya 4-Ever (Lilja 4-ever, Sweden/Denmark, 2002) and off er an analysis of the trauma of transitions in the borderland between the post-Soviet and Nordic countries. Both Oksanen and Moodysson, as observers from the Nordic countries (Finland and Sweden respectively), have chosen to depict the post-Soviet trauma through a female body which is trapped in forced prostitution in Western Europe or Scandinavia and her emotions and reactions to her trauma. This article will argue that both authors contribute to the post-Cold War discourse that discusses the cultural borders between “East” and “West”, presenting a trauma of globalisation, drawing attention to unspoken subjects, but also contributing to the existing views of post- Soviet spaces as ruined and traumatising.

Open access
Small Market, Big Format: Idols in Estonia

Abstract

This article looks at the factors that have influenced the Estonian adaptation of the Idols format, Eesti otsib superstaari. Based on existing literature, as well as on interviews with representatives of the local TV industry, this article suggests that the most influential factor is the small size of the Estonian TV market. Most changes to the original format have been made for practical reasons and not due to cultural considerations. Hence, this article argues that it is mostly market and industry logistics that influence programme imports and local adaptations and not so much the cultural shareability of such programmes.

Open access