FLMS2250: Film Cultures



Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts



FLMS2250: Film Cultures
Tuesdays, 18:15 – 21:15

Dr. Mikel J. Koven
BB 133


This module explores the often invisible contexts of cinema – the festivals, the markets, the exhibitors & distributors. By looking at the context of contemporary cinema, students will learn how to study the context as text; reading the often ephemeral, taken for granted and everyday aspects of film-going. The differences between various viewing ‘platforms’ and media will also be addressed. This module will also have a focus on film festivals in general and include work experience opportunities through the organization and production of a film festival, held on campus, during the Reading Week.


Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the impact of film context on the understanding and appreciation of film;
  2. Articulate the cultural importance of film festivals, globally and locally.
  3. Understand the diversity of global film consumption patterns

Attendance Policy:

 It is expected that you will attend all taught sessions, in the same way that attendance is expected in the workplace. Indeed regular attendance has a significant impact on student engagement, understanding and successful completion of University courses. Furthermore non-attendance will significantly affect your ability successfully to complete a module and may jeopardise your ability to undertake re-assessment in the event of failing a module.

It is your responsibility as a student, just as it would be if you were an employee, to ensure that you are punctual and that your attendance has been recorded on the register each week.

Should you, for some unavoidable reason, be unable to attend a scheduled session (for example if you are ill) then you must send an email to ihcastudentabsence@worc.ac.uk . Please include in your email your name and student number, the module code and name, the date of the missed session, and your reason for missing it. You should make sure that you copy the module tutor into the email and also contact your module tutor to make arrangements to catch up on any work you have missed.

Notification must be received within 6 days of the date of the missed session.

Alternatively you can inform IHCA of your absence via the telephone. Please ring 01905 542015 (Shirley Adams) with the required details.

Students with two or more unexplained absences may be required to attend a tutorial/ interview with the module leader, course leader or head of division to discuss their progress.


Learning Contract:

On this module you are expected to be courteous and attentive to your fellow classmates and to the module tutor. You are also expected to undertake the required reading each week and to view the film or films under question. Failure to do either of these things will severely impede your success on the module.

The use of mobile phones will not be tolerated in classes, lectures or screenings. Please turn off all phones before the lesson starts.

Please feel free to email me (m.koven@worc.ac.uk) with any queries you have regarding the module, I will try to reply within 3 working days. My office hours will be posted on the door of my office (BB 133), however I am always open to seeing students at other times if you make an appointment.   


Books and Articles required:

Harbord, Janet (2002). Film Cultures. London: Sage

Koven, Mikel J. (1999). “You Don’t Have to be Filmish”: The Toronto Jewish Film Festival. Ethnologies 21.1: 115-132.

Koven, Mikel J. (2013). Film Festivals as Spaces of Meaning: Researching Festival Audiences as Producers of Meaning. From the Mind of Mikel [online]: https://fromthemindofmikel.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/film-festivals-as-spaces-of-meaning-researching-festival-audiences-as-producers-of-meaning/ [last accessed, 29 August, 2016].

Nichols, Bill. (1994). Discovering Form, Inferring Meaning: New Cinemas and the Film Festival Circuit. Film Quarterly 47.3: 16-30.

Turan, Kenneth (2002) Sundance to Sarajevo: Film Festivals and the World They Made. Berkeley: University of California Press

De Valck, Marijke (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinefphilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press

There is a substantial bibliography on Film Festivals to be found on the Film Festival Research Network’s webpage: http://www.filmfestivalresearch.org/index.php/ffrn-bibliography/

Module Calendar (please note, subject to change):

Module Calendar (please note, subject to change):

 26 Sept: Introduction

Reading: None

03 Oct: Why do we like what we like? An Introduction to Film Cultures

Reading: Harbord, Janet (2002). Film Cultures. London: Sage: 14-38.

10 Oct: Spaces of Exhibition

Reading: Harbord, Janet (2002). Film Cultures. London: Sage: 39-58

17 Oct: 42 Street Memories: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Notorious Street (Calum Waddell, 2015)

Reading: Harbord, Janet (2002). Film Cultures. London: Sage: 76-92.

24 Oct: Film Festivals

Reading: Harbord, Janet (2002). Film Cultures. London: Sage: 59-75.

Nichols, Bill. (1994). Discovering Form, Inferring Meaning: New Cinemas and the Film Festival Circuit. Film Quarterly 47.3: 16-30

Worcester Week

07 Nov: Sites of Passage

Reading: De Valck, Marijke (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinefphilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press: 13-44.

14 Nov: All the Love You Cannes (Gabriel Friedman, Lloyd Kaufman, Sean McGrath, 2002)

Reading: N/A

1 Nov: Guest Presentation by Rebekah Louise Smith (The Film Festival Doctor)

Reading: N/A

28 Nov: Studying Cannes as Industrial Festival

Reading: De Valck, Marijke (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinefphilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press: 85-122.

05 Dec: Guest Presentation by Adrian Smith

12 Dec: Student Presentations

Christmas Break

09 Jan: Conclusions


Additional readings:

Acland, C. R. (2000). Cinemagoing and the Rise of the Megaplex.Television & New Media 1.3: 355-382.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Richard Nice, trans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

Goldsmith, B. (1999). “The Comfort Lies in All the Things You Can Do”: The Australian Drive-in – Cinema of Distraction. Journal of Popular Culture 33.1: 153-164

Gray, J. (2010). Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York University Press.

Guins, R. (2009). Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Heffernan, K. (2002). Inner-City Exhibition and the Genre Film: Distributing “Night of the Living Dead” (1968). Cinema Journal 41.3: 59-77.

Jenkins, H. (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. London: Routledge.

Kliniger, B. (1989). Digressions at the Cinema: Reception and Mass Culture. Cinema Journal 28.4: 3-19.

Klinger, B. (2006). Beyond the Multiplex: Cinema, New Technologies and the Home. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Livingstone, S. (2004). The Challenge of Changing Audiences: Or, What is the Audience Researcher to do in the Age of the Internet? European Journal of Communication 19.1:75-86.

Parker, D. and M. Parker. (2004). Directors and DVD Commentary: The Specifics of Intention. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62.1: 13-22.

Sorlin, P. (1991). European Cinemas, European Societies: 1939-1990. London: Routledge.

Waller, G. A. (2003/04). Robert Southard and the History of Traveling Film Exhibition. Film Quarterly 57.2: 2-14.


Film Festival & Self-Reflexive Essay

Students are required to produce their own film festival, held on the St. John’s Campus, during the Worcester Week (30 Oct – 3 Nov).

A room will be booked for you between 12 noon until 10 pm each day of the Worcester Week, Monday to Friday.

In that space, during that time, you are required, as a class, to produce your own film festival.

  • You will need to decide what the theme of the festival will be.
  • You will need to decide what films you will show, and where you will source the copies.
  • You will need to know how the equipment in the room works, and how to problem solve should any arise.
  • You will need to advertise, market and ensure audience attendance at the festival, including staffing of the room while the festival is going on.

To do this, you will need to work both as a large team, while also breaking down into specific committees. Off the top of my head, I would suggest the committees you will need are

  • Scheduling, including sourcing copies
  • Marketing & advertising, ensuring you have an audience
  • Projection and staffing during the event.

I will be available for guidance and advice, but all the work has to be yours.

Upon completion of the festival, students are required to submit a 1000-word, self-reflexive essay on their work experience with this festival event. This analysis should include

  • what they actually did during the festival;
  • what skills they drew on during the work experience;
  • how the course prepared them for this work experience; and
  • what skills they need to develop if they had the opportunity to do this kind of job again.

Length: 1000-words

Due date: 10 November, at 15:00

Weighting: 20%


Group Presentation

Students are required to research and present, in small groups, a report on an international film festival. Among the aspects to address will be:

  • The Who, What, Where, When, How and Why of an international film festival
  • A History of the Festival
  • Key films & the politics (in the broadest sense of the word) of the festival

All students in a group will share the grade.


Length: 15 minutes

Due date: 12 Dec, during class

Weighting: 30%


Theoretical Essay

Students are required to develop their portion of their presentation into a formal essay using as much of the required readings as possible (and as relevant) in order to fully contextualize their research. It is expected that students will discuss their essays in advance with the module leader to ensure they are on the right path.


Length: 1500-words

Due date: 19 January, at 15:00

Weighting: 50%


*Assignments will be graded within three weeks of submission*



With the exception of the group presentation, all assignments should be electronically submitted via the student’s SOLE page. All assignments will be submitted to Turnitin by the module leader.

 For information regarding plagiarism, referencing, and general study skills please visit http://www.worc.ac.uk/studyskills