Visiting Associate Professor of Film/Video and World Cinema
Her films include the shorts Probe ( 1992), Frida Film (1993), Vorspiel (1994), Landing (1995), Market Forces (1996), Searching for Taid (1997) and Love Love Liebe (1998), The 3 screen installation, Sehe ich was was du nichts siehst? (Do I see something you don't?, 2002), for which she received the D-motion special prize for the city of Halle, Germany. For the feature documentary Dirt for Dinner (Dreckfresser) (2000), she won the Bavarian documentary film prize The Young Lion, the German Next-Generation-First-Steps Award for Best Documentary Film and First Prize at the Dubrovnik Documentary Film Festival in 2001.
The fiction feature Valley of the Innocent (Tal der Ahnungslosen, 2004) had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film festival in 2003 and went on to compete in the feature film competition at FESPACO 2005.
For her film The Education of Auma Obama Okpako received the 2012 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, the Festival Founders Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (both in 2012), and the Viewers Choice Award at the Africa International Film Festival (2011). Her most recent project, The Curse of Medea (Fluch der Medea), a docu-drama about the life of the late German writer Christa Wolf, was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014.
In this practical course, we will both make and study video installations. Our aim will be to get an introduction into the history of the art form. We will study some seminal works from Adrian Piper for her use of space, Isaac Julian for his proximity to film narrative, and Shirin Neshat for her use of two or more screens in conversation. During the semester, we will ask ourselves: Can the video installation free us from the straitjacket of narrative? What role does time play? What about space? Students will be expected to create a five to ten minute installation on between one and three screens, find the appropriate location for the work, and install it. The process should be documented in a workbook and a video or photo series made of the work when installed. The installation locations can be either/both physical and virtual.
This course is designed to give students the space to workshop their independent DIV III projects among fellow photographers and filmmakers, as well as facilitating the development of skills and language needed to contextualize and describe their work. Over the course of the semester we will emphasize method and process, asking questions like; what is my work trying to achieve? What are my influences? How can I best articulate these? Rigorous critique will help students resolve their work and hone their techniques of expression. This course will also include readings general to the class and specific to students' projects. We will also work on writing artist statements, project statements, and ersatz press releases, giving students practical written experience which will be critically useful when writing retrospectives and later in their professional careers when applying for grants and exhibitions.
This course will be a practical introduction to documentary filmmaking. We will examine the question of identity both in the sense of performed identities, as well as identity in the sense of signature and voice. Who is the storyteller? Why are we telling the story? Does a Documentary tell the truth? How are our identities invested in our chosen subject? In terms of technique, can we make ourselves as authors visible? If so, should we make our presence felt? These are some of the questions we will address during the course of the semester. Documenting with images can be done in so many ways; the key is to find what wants to be told and how to tell it with an authentic "own" voice. I will introduce you to some works that I think will stimulate and inspire.
We will approach film history in terms of the representation of slavery in film, both the technological innovation and the development of film language. While the 19th century is widely viewed as the century of the novel, the 20th was dominated by the rise of film as the force in public storytelling. What is the significance of the fact that The most widely read novel of the 19th and, in some ways, the most important film of the 20th century, are both about slavery? The 21st century ushers in an new era of technology with films like GRAVITY, the first film shot to a large extent by avatars, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, the first film to introduce a new language into mainstream cinema, and HER, the first film about an enslaved operating system. What is the relationship between slavery, post humanism and the cyborg? To what extent does film both reflect and define these concepts?
In this course I will introduce students to the practice of screenwriting. We will begin by examining the classical three and five act structures in the various traditional fiction genres. We will develop character, dialogue, story arc etc. However, we will go further and experiment with alternatives to narrative structures. We will create styles of "writing" with images and music that break the conventional standard of what Peter Watkins refers to as the "monoform". At the end of the semester we should have screenplays that we can present to the wider community either in the form of readings or as so-called "filmic" screenplays that we can screen.
Seven countries, seven films, seven filmmakers, one continent; Africa. The films will be our main text. We will read and analyze them. Most of the films deal with contemporary themes of post-colonial urban life but some like Mother's Day from Tsitsi Dangaremba are inspired by ancient myths. We will address the historical and political contexts in which the films were made. Finally we will look at the cinepolitical situation, the financing and distribution structures, as they pertain to the specific films. Like this we will win an introduction to Contemporary Africa Cinema. We will speak to the filmmakers and learn about their specific styles and their chosen emphasis. Films: 1. Viva Riva (2010) by Djo Tunda Wa Munga CONGO 2. Indochina: Traces of a Mother (2011) by Idrissou Mora-Kpai REPUBLIC DU BENIN 3. Gray Matter (2011) by Kivu Ruhorahoza RWANDA __ 4. Kare kare zvako: Mother's Day (2005) by Tsitsi Dangaremba ZIMBABWE 5. Man on Ground (2012) by Akin Omotoso SOUTH AFRICA __ 6. Une Feuille Dans Le Vent (2013) by Jean-Marie Teno CAMEROON 7. Soeur Oyo (2014) by Monique Mbkea Phoba CONGO (to be confirmed) or Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) by Biyi Bandele NIGERIA