What is realism? This is a question at the core of some of the key theoretical writings about cinema that have interrogated the function of this medium in the last century or so. Based on the mechanical reproduction of reality through the film apparatus, cinema seemingly has the ability to capture what is in front of the camera “as it is”. However, realism cannot be reduced to a mere mechanical function, something that has been further complicated through the introduction of digital technology in more recent decades.
During this day school, we will focus on realism as an aesthetic project that has characterised global cinemas across different regions and historical periods at moments of social change. Through the consideration of specific examples of narrative cinema, we will define and explore realism as an aesthetic style and highlight the close relationship between film forms and the broader social, political, economic and cultural contexts in which films have been produced, circulated and consumed. Realism thus becomes a fundamental way through which cinema has been able to negotiate and mediate social change, taking on political meanings, particularly in postcolonial contexts and in response to forms of neocolonialism.
The day will be divided into four sessions, each one focusing on a specific region and/or historical period. Yet, the global perspective adopted in this course will also emphasise the importance of transnational exchanges between filmmakers, industries and audiences in the understanding of realism. Each part of the day will also allow for interactive activities, such as the analysis of film clips and group discussion involving the audience.
No previous knowledge of Film Studies is required.
Image: Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola in a scene from Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves), Vittorio De Sica, 1948