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Film and Social Change

Film can make us laugh. It can make us cry. It can make us care. Film can move us, but can it affect or even effect change? This module explores the potential of film to impact upon personal, social and political experiences and events. John Grierson called the filmmaker a ‘propagandist’; Third Cinema hailed him or her a ‘revolutionary’. More recently, Linda Williams, in re-defining all ‘film’ as melodrama, distinguished it as the medium of emotion.

We will be concerned with the convergence of these three, of ideology, resistance and feeling, within our developing understanding of how film might alter the attitudes or actions of its audience.

Case Studies include King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933); Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966); The Five Obstructions (Lars Von Trier and Jorgan Leth, 2003); I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016); Kony 2012 (Jason Russell, 2012).

Film and Social Change will look at how various film theories – such as spectatorship, post-colonial and ethical theory - refigure the agency of those watching, and how various film movements, filmmakers and film practices reanimate this agency for socio-political goals. Moving from mainstream paradigms to much lauded counter-narratives to more marginal propositions, new technologies and platforms will become increasingly significant as we track an alternative history of the power of film into the Digital Age.

Module Resources

Module Outline

Module leaders:

Dr Michele Aaron

Michele Aaron