Alumni nominated for Academy Award

Posted: January 22nd, 2013

Rebelle, written and directed by Concordia graduate Kim Nguyen, and produced by Communication Studies alumnus Pierre Even, has been nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards.

Nguyen, overwhelmed by the reception the film has received so far, said he trusted his instincts in shooting the film in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Scene from Rebelle
Scene from Rebelle | All images courtesy of Métropole Films Distribution

Pierre Even produced the 90-minute drama, which will square off against Austria’s Amour, Norway’s Kon-Tiki, Chile’s No and Denmark’s A Royal Affair.

Nguyen and Even worked alongside another Concordian, Nicolas Bolduc, who was the film’s cinematographer.

Rebelle is the third Canadian-made movie in a row to impress the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In 2011, Monsieur Lazhar was nominated, yet the award went to A Separation from Iran. In 2010, Incendies was nominated and lost to Denmark’s In a Better World.

André Turpin, BFA 89 and fellow Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema graduate, worked as cinematographer on the critically acclaimed Incendies.

Rachel Mwanza
Rachel Mwanza

RebelleWar Witch in English — is a poignant film with an exceptional lead performance by Rachel Mwanza, a newcomer discovered on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The film tells the story of Komona (Mwanza), a 12 year-old girl who is kidnapped by African rebels, forced at gunpoint to kill her parents and fight as a child soldier.

Due to her ability to see grey ghosts in the trees that warn her of approaching enemies, she is deemed a sorceress and bestowed the title of War Witch by the supreme leader of the rebels, Great Tiger.

Rebelle premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012, where Nguyen was the first Canadian director in 13 years to have a film selected for the main competition.

Mwanza earned the best actress Silver Bear award. She also won Best Actress prize for the movie at the Tribeca film festival in New York City in April, along with the Best Narrative Film prize.

Rebelle is Nguyen’s fourth feature film. He started it 10 years ago after reading about two Burmese twin brothers who, at age nine, led an army of rebels in a fight against the government.

His research, which included travelling to Burundi to interview child soldiers, led him to focus on conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Related links:
•    Official trailer for Rebelle
•    Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema

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“Useful Cinema” Wins Society for Cinema and Media Studies Honour

Posted: January 17th, 2013

Useful CinemaThe Society for Cinema and Media Studies has awarded Useful Cinema (Duke University Press, 2011) an honorable mention in its 2013 Best Edited Collection Award competition. Useful Cinema was edited by Charles Acland (CURC Communication Studies) and Haidee Wasson (Cinema Studies), and the volume grew out of an SSHRC-funded workshop held at Concordia University in 2006.

The book consists of fourteen essays that explore how mid-twentieth-century institutions, including libraries, museums, classrooms, and professional organizations, helped to make moving images an ordinary feature of American life. The SCMS awards committee praised the volume for helping to open up a new research domain and noted the consistently high quality of the historical research across the essays.

This is the first time an SCMS Best Edited Collection Award committee has recognized work from scholars at a Canadian university. The award ceremony will take place in Chicago in March.

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Comms Productions Featured on Canal Savoir

Posted: January 11th, 2013

communication studies workshopConcordia has renewed its partnership with Canal Savoir, an educational television station that broadcasts in English and French to more than 4 million homes across Canada. This month, the station will begin broadcasting film projects produced by students in Concordia’s Communication Studies, Journalism and Film Production departments.

Sylvie Godbout, Canal Savoir’s general manager, says she’s thrilled that Concordia has renewed its affiliation with the educational network, which broadcasts content produced by universities across the province.

“Concordia has a strength, which is its student productions, and we are able to provide the opportunity to showcase some of these student productions somewhere other than just in the classroom or over the internet,” she says.

Communication studies student Elise Høgberg says it’s exciting news for her and her fellow students. “I think it’s amazing. I’m really, really excited, and it’s an honour to have this opportunity,” she said.

Høgberg says the pressure to complete coursework means students rarely have the time or the resources to explore the possibility of getting their productions broadcast on television. “It’s really great for our CVs to have things broadcast.”

Technical instructor Michael Smart says Salzman's piece is "interesting because he’s talking about his parents, and how making this dish takes him back to his loving home.”
Technical instructor Michael Smart says Salzman’s piece is “interesting because he’s talking about his parents, and how making this dish takes him back to his loving home.”

Høgberg’s impressive stop-animation production What on Earth was That? will be featured during a half-hour show called Tell Me a Story, a compilation of videos produced by students in Associate Professor Rae Staseson’s third-year video class in the Department of Communication Studies.

Students in the same class also produced a series of self-portraits for a second half-hour show called My Story. Technical instructor Michael Smart, who assisted Staseson’s third-year video students with their productions, says he was impressed by the quality of what they produced.

“We had a group of very motivated and talented students,” he says, before describing one of the self-portraits that stood out for him. “The last piece on theMy Story show is called Pasc n’ Cheese. It’s just shots of the student, Pascal Salzman, making macaroni and cheese, which was his favourite dish as a kid. It’s interesting because he’s talking about his parents, and how making this dish takes him back to his loving home.”

Concordia’s journalism department is contributing three half-hour shows produced in the fall. The two segments produced by students in the journalism diploma program’s Advanced Television Journalism follow the format of a news show covering local stories.

The half-hour show produced by undergraduate students in the Advanced Television Journalism class contains a series of in-depth feature stories. The students present the segments of the show using a unique conversational format.

Journalism students will produce two more one-hour documentaries, and at least one other half-hour show for Canal Savoir this winter.

Salzman and the finished product. | All images taken from Pasc n’ Cheese
Salzman and the finished product. | All images taken fromPasc n’ Cheese

Peter Downie, a lecturer and the director of the graduate program in the Department of Journalism, says the fact that the students know their projects are going to be broadcast across the country has an impact on how they approach their work. “It just adds something a little extra to the production, knowing it’s going to be seen publicly,” he says.

For the next round of productions for Canal Savoir, Downie says he may look at the possibility of producing a show featuring students’ photojournalism essays.

“This really gives us a chance to experiment with different techniques and different forms,” he says. “My own experience is that students are far more creative now, and their creativity comes alive if you give them a forum in which to exercise it.”

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New book by Dr. Krista Geneviève Lynes: Prismatic Media, Transnational Circuits: Feminism in a Globalized Present

Posted: January 8th, 2013

Dr. Krista Geneviève Lynes: Prismatic Media, Transnational Circuits: Feminism in a Globalized PresentWhat are the political and aesthetic dimensions of video art, documentary, and global cinema in contemporary image culture? In her first book, Krista Geneviève Lynes makes visible how sites of political struggle, exploitation, and armed conflict can be theorized and interpreted through a feminist politics of location, attentive to the frictions and flows within transnational circuits of exchange. Prismatic Media, Transnational Circuits traces how formal modes of experimentation provide prismatic visions of sites of political struggle – multiple, mediated points of view – and thus open space for complex and emancipatory relations among cultural producers, activists, and viewers in a globalized present.

“Krista Lynes’ Prismatic Media, Transnational Circuits unties the vexed knots joining experimental visual media and situated political struggles, including controversial feminist strategies for making women potent as subjects in local and trans-local worlds. Her knowledge of diverse practices and materials in specific historical ecologies across zones of sharp conflict is impressive. She makes keen theoretical arguments expressed with passion, clarity and power. Lynes examines how heterogeneous visual media produce the fraught visibility of women in law, culture, and politics. She shows how global audiences get constructed and operationalized through visual imaging at local sites of political struggle, especially where the abuse, exploitation, and agency of women are in play and at stake. The complexity and urgency of Lynes’ subject compel the reader. In short, this is a vivid, innovative, and important book.” – Donna Haraway, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

“The exposure of the mechanisms of power in dominant visual culture is executed in an exuberant and non-linear way and from a transnational perspective through an extensive use of optical metaphors such as “prismatic,” “refraction,” and “diffraction”. Lynes skillfully and confidently compounds semiotics and structuralism to feminism and complicates the binary visibility/invisibility by shedding more light on the emergence of complex vision in contemporary moving-image media and the existing different modes of representation in conflict zones.” – Suzana Milevska, visual culture theorist and curator, Skopje, Macedonia

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Researchers from Concordia and MIT undertake a large-scale study into player demographics

Posted: January 7th, 2013

From Gran Turismo to WWE SmackDown, sports-based video games represent a wide variety of pursuits. When it comes to the people who actually play those games, however, little is known. How do sports video game players fit their games into a larger sports-related context? And how does their playing of video games inform their media usage and general sports fandom?

Mia ConsalvoThat’s what Concordia University communication studies Associate Professor Mia Consalvo sought to discover when she embarked on a large-scale study of video game players, the results of which were recently published in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.

Along with Abe Stein and Konstantin Mitgutsch from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Consalvo, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design, conducted an online survey of 1,718 participants to pin down demographics, habits, attitudes and activities of sports video game players.

The researchers found that the majority of those who play sports video games are male (98.4 per cent), white (80 per cent) and in their mid-20s (average age of 26 years). In comparison with other representative video game player demographics, the field is less diverse and the average player is younger. Based on the data about the larger game-playing population, it seems that the sports gamers are drawn from a more traditional demographic of game players, at least when it comes to console and certain personal computer-based video games.

“Perhaps one of the biggest findings to emerge from this study is unsurprising, but finally documented,” notes Consalvo. “The overwhelming majority of sports gamers – 93.3 per cent – self-identify as sports fans. That identity pushes beyond the playing of sports-themed video games. Attending sporting events, watching them on television, participating in those activities themselves as well as following certain teams or sports were regular parts of their daily lives.” 

Consalvo says she hopes to gain more insight into why there is little diversity in the player demographics, and why female players are in a minority. “While this study provides new insights into who sports video game players are and what they play and why, we still lack knowledge on how these players relate their passion for video games to their sports fandom in general,” she says. She hopes to address these questions in her forthcoming book, co-authored with Stein and Mitsgutsch, titled Sports Videogames.

Update: Maria Consalvo was interviewed on March 4, 2013 on Global’s Morning News. You can find the video here.

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